Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you have no doubt heard about the recent scandal involving fast food chain Chick-Fil-A and its owner Dan Cathy. If not, get up to speed here. Now I had not planned on addressing this issue here, but the issue seems to have become muddled lately, and arguments seem to have gotten off-track. So, I’d like to take a moment and see if we can’t steer the conversation back onto its proper course.
1. This is not a free speech issue.
That Dan Cathy publicly stated his support for “traditional marriage” is not the issue. The real issue here is that Chick-Fil-A has donated millions of dollars to anti-gay groups over the years. I know that we now live in an era in which money constitutes speech and “corporations are people, my friend,” but the bottom line is that Chick-Fil-A has taken an active part in bankrolling institutions that seek to ensure that some Americans continue to be treated as second-class citizens because of their sexual orientation. This is much more heinous than any mere words that Dan Cathy has uttered and is certainly the crux of the matter.
To say that this is a free speech issue is absurd. Dan Cathy has every right to tell the truth about his opinions on gay marriage. But those boycotting also have every right to do so as well. The street runs both ways.
2. This is not about government regulation.
In the wake of some pretty stupid remarks from the mayors of Chicago and Boston concerning the possible banning of Chick-Fil-A in those cities, the narrative of government regulation of people’s beliefs has sprung up. This straw man argument has no basis in reality (as any legislation such legislation would be nearly impossible to pass) and distracts from the heart of the issue. Yes, the suggestion to ban the chain was moronic, but let’s not pretend that there was any real possibility of that happening or that this was the main concern of Chick-Fil-A supporters from square one.
3. So, what is it about?
As stated above, it is about the fact that Chick-Fil-A supports, not just with words, but with financial backing, organizations that seek to ensure that homosexuals remain second-class citizens under the law. That’s it. People who are boycotting Chick-Fil-A don’t hate Dan Cathy, Christians or those cute cows. They believe that all citizens should be treated equally under the law and are reacting to an entity that is trying to undermine that fair and equal treatment (most of them anyway, I’m sure there are some hate-filled loonies out there).
And Dan Cathy, Chick-Fil-A patrons and conservative Christians don’t hate homosexuals (again, barring the loonies). They are (for better or for worse) simply following their interpretation of their faith (with the exception of those who believe it is a free speech or government regulation issue, they are either misguided or delusional).
At the end of the day it boils down to a choice between inclusion and equality, or exclusion and discrimination. Everything else is smoke and mirrors.