This whole Chic-fil-A thing is getting out of hand. But I too have an opinion on it, and have written about it. You have the choice to read what I wrote or spend your time elsewhere. That is the power you have. Remember that.
But please don’t go.
From what I glean from the umpteen blogs, articles, releases and other media that have reported on the subject, Chic-fil-A (CFA), a well-known purveyor of (purportedly) mighty fine chicken sandwiches and champion of family values (in the biblical regard) will face many hurdles in their attempts to tap the Boston and Chicago markets. Mayor Thomas Menino and Alderman Proco Moreno, of Boston and Chicago respectively, have vowed not to allow CFA within their jurisdiction based on its transparent and conservative religious ties and ideals that go chiefly against equal rights for homosexuals.
Based on this information, I have to grit my teeth, swallow hard, and agree that what Menino and Moreno have committed to cannot be upheld. Slippery slopers have a point this time. If this were to pass, what’s to stop cities everywhere from barring entry or throwing businesses out based on differing ideologies between the company and the city’s leadership–as opposed to doing it the right way by citing economic, employment or aesthetic factors? Probably billions in tax revenue and millions of jobs, but the thought experiment is thorny.
For the same reason someone must not be discriminated against at the workplace for being gay, Chinese, Buddhist or a Dodger fan, what CFA espouses must not come into play on where they operate, within the boundaries of law. If you are going to take umbrage at something, look toward the hiring and selecting practices of potential franchisees, or the disallowing of gays into marriage retreats put together by their charitable organization. There you may have a case for discrimination but that is five gallons of gooey legal glop without a bucket to hold it.
Companies, like people, have identities and values. Some choose to wear it on their sleeve, like Google, Starbucks and CFA–much like an opinionated coworker or relative. But no one is obliged to buy or agree. In the case of CFA, or any mega corporation, they just happen to be a billion-dollar company with the clout to fund associations and organizations that are also aligned with their values, thereby polarizing their image a thousand-fold compared to what the average person can do, which is usually limited to finger wagging, eye rolling and pouting.
Eric Zorn says it best in explaining that another CFA in Chicago “would simply double the number of Chick-fil-A restaurants in the city for me to boycott.” Just like if a coworker invited you to a party but you know that his house is bright green and ugly and that fact alone will dissuade you from going, simply don’t go. But don’t tell him to repaint his house.
Don’t get me wrong, I commend both Menino and Moreno for taking a stand for what they (and I) believe and expressing the views of their respective constituencies, but agreement is not grounds for an issue to be exempt from the First Amendment. If the tables were turned, and a conservative city with a conservative mayor were openly and vehemently banning a company for their pro-LGBT beliefs, you better believe that I would be on this same side of the argument, but I just wouldn’t feel so conflicted.
It is silly to me that there is even a debate over giving homosexuals equal rights. As silly as thinking that at one time women could not vote in this country or African Americans had to use separate drinking fountains. But the struggle remains and I will not knowingly support CFA whether they operate in their home state of Atlanta or any other state or country.
I am hopeful that the future will prove just and give homosexuals equal status as enjoys every other human being. I am hopeful that we will look back at this fiasco and laugh at Chic-fil-A as we now laugh at Woolworth’s. Until then, I shall continue to support equal rights even if that only means not patronizing some businesses. That is my power.
Please tell me I have it all wrong. I would love to hear a good argument contradicting what I just said. No, seriously, please speak up.
[image courtesy of http://alittlereality.blogspot.nl/2011/11/chick-fil.html%5D