I've been quiet on OS for two years, mostly because I've grown disillusioned with politics, and that's been my main subject matter heretofore. But the Chick-Fil-A controversy has me all a-twitter, and so I'm putting forth my opinion on the matter— surprising even to me— as well as a plan for reconciling that I think everyone could live with.
1. I don't like it that Chick-Fil-A mixes religion with business. Straight up. They are known far and wide for closing on Sundays, and sharing their Christian values with the public. I don't like it.
But I don't have to like it. It's not my business. This is America, we have a free-market economy, and they can do whatever they please.
2. I am a supporter of GLBT rights. A person's sexual orientation should not make a whit concerning their rights as a citizen. Meaning, they should be able to work, live and play however, wherever and with whomever they like, so long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others.
And I have my right to this opinion, just as Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy has a right to his opinion. As a private citizen. However...
3. Dan Cathy isn't really a private citizen. When you're the CEO of a national corporation, even if that corporation is privately held, you're still pretty much speaking for the company every time you open your mouth.
That may not be fair, but that's the way it is.
4. So, Dan Cathy's personal bête noire, gay marriage, has become official Chick-Fil-A corporate policy by extension. And the company has used its dollars to make it that way, donating millions to specifically anti-gay non-profits over the years.
So now it's a Chick-Fil-A thing, and not a Dan Cathy thing.
5. As a marketing and PR professional, I thought to myself, "God, what a nightmare. I'd hate to be their head of PR."
And then their head of PR, Don Perry, dropped dead of a coronary.
6. Although his head of PR's premature death from a heart attack isn't necessarily a sign that God isn't really on his side, it should be a sign to Dan Cathy that these high-profile anti-gay comments aren't doing him any good. I mean, Chick-Fil-A is getting plenty of ink right now, but being at the center of a national controversy over civil rights isn't exactly the best way to sell chicken, even if you've got just as many people supporting your position as loathing it.
So it begs the question, "Why can't Dan Cathy just keep his mouth shut on the matter?"
7. It's not that they're not trying to make that happen. Chick-Fil-A's corporate stance, officially, is that they don't want anything to do with the debate. They're trying to get a pass, and at the same time, distance themselves from the controversy. They even went so far as to solicit business from the gay community, stating “The Chick-Fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect— regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."
Well, it's to know I'm not going to have to prove I'm a heterosexual before I can get a chicken sandwich.
8. Just before his death, Don Perry issued a statement stating that "going forward, [Chick-Fil-A's] intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena." For the company, leaving the policy debate means "not proactively being engaged in the dialogue" on gay marriage, according to the statement.
Well, that's a mistake. Now let's see what happens when you leave it to the government and political arena.
9. Civic leaders in some of America's biggest cities, in an effort to score points with the powerful GLBT lobbies in their towns, jumped rather rabidly onto the anti-Chick-Fil-A bandwagon, stating they would refuse business licenses and turn down zoning requests from Chick-Fil-A franchisees looking to operate with their city limits.
Okay, here's where to me the whole thing goes pear-shaped. These well-meaning politicians— oddly enough, all liberals— have latched onto a private individual's statements and a private company's donations as a reason to not just demonize and vilify them, but indeed to refuse them to do business in their cities. The proposed bans in Boston, San Francisco and Chicago drew surprising criticism from leftist pundits, legal experts and the American Civil Liberties Union. And why wouldn't it? It's a clear violation of the First Amendment right to free speech and association. Chick-Fil-A's CEO can say whatever he wants. They can give their money to whomever they want. It's not a matter of public benefit. To paraphrase the excellent commentary in Mother Jones magazine, cities shouldn't hand out business licenses based on whether their leaders agree with the political views of the executives.
10. Then it escalated on the other side. Mike Huckabee and his right-wing followers organized a mass turnout in support of Chick-Fil-A. Sarah Palin went and had a sandwich. Rabid gays are talking about staging a "kiss-in," a most unsavory thought. Not that I'm against dudes making out, I'm for it, I just think about a group of nuns crashing a gay bar. How would the homos like that? Not a bit. The kiss-in is misguided and disrespectful of everyone. I wouldn't want to watch straight folks make out in a fast-food joint either.
Everyone is missing the point. This isn't about chicken, or your stance on gay marriage, or Chick-Fil-A's. It's about the fact that when you spend five bucks at Chick-Fil-A, some of that money could go to ship an effeminate kid off to a camp where they torment him in the hopes of making him un-gay. Good luck with that. The question is...
11. Why is homosexuality an issue for Chick-Fil-A? Did not the teachings of Christ give enough different ways to do good, love thy neighbor and help one's fellow man that might not involve discrimination against gays and lesbians?
Chick-Fil-A, you're a food company. How about battling hunger? How about childhood nutritional education? How about the importance of exercise after eating all those deliciously greasy sandwiches and waffle fries? How about breast cancer research? How about saving the wetlands? Clean water? Programs for gifted youth? Ungifted youth? Arts in schools? Urban renewal? Rural preservation? How about spending your money on any number of charities that have nothing to do with homosexuality or the prevention thereof? How about a completely neutral stance on the matter?
12. Chick-Fil-A should consider taking a proactive, rather than reactive neutral stance on the matter and put some teeth into its pledge to get out of the debate. It should say, publicly: "We won't support anti-gay groups anymore, or pro-gay groups either. We really are out of that debate." And stick by it.
That might make the gays think they had won, but what would be wrong with that? From a corporate standpoint, there would be an outpouring of "Thanks, Chick-Fil-A," from the GLBT community— or at least end the boycott— and sales would go up. It would also make Chick-Fil-A look tolerant and still civic-minded. The Right couldn't very well backlash and say "we won't patronize those pussies at Chick-Fil-A" when they make a pledge to give money to a different worthy organization. It's a win-win-win situation.
So naturally... it'll never happen.