The Chick-Fil-A Debate

Over the past several weeks, a controversy has erupted over the comments Dan Cathy, president and COO of Chick-Fil-A, made in regards to the company’s Christian values. Among other things, Cathy stated,

We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business . . . We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.

The uproar that followed has been incredible. Conservative activists lauded Cathy and staged Chick-Fil-A appreciation days. Many pro-gay marriage supporters organized their own protest days. Some gay Americans and supporters of gay marriage have proclaimed that they will not eat at Chick-Fil-A anymore. Even mayors of some major cities have expressed opinions that Chick-Fil-A would not be welcome in their cities.

I have been disappointed in seeing how this situation has been blown completely out of proportion and degraded to hateful words being said on both sides of the issue. I want to analyze quickly the ramifications of the recent actions by those trying to boycott Chick-Fil-A and deny them business. I believe that regardless on your position on the issue of marriage, common sense tells us that the actions have been inappropriate.

Many pro-gay marriage supporters have decided to boycott Chick-Fil-A completely because they don’t want to support a “hateful company”. (See Adam Smith of Vante and his deplorable actions toward a  Chick-Fil-A worker). I want to make it very clear that doing so is completely within the right of individuals who are upset by Dan Cathy’s remarks (just as it was completely within his rights to express his personal views). However, imagine a world in which everyone stopped doing business with people they disagreed with. Over time, traditional marriage supporters would only do business with other traditional marriage supporters, gay marriage supporters would associate with only other gay marriage supporters. The possible ramifications are much more extensive than simply politics. What Chick-Fil-A boycotters are doing is creating a dangerous precedent for the way to handle situations in which two parties disagree. Instead of creating a healthy dialogue, boycotters have radicalized the climate for political conversation. Civility is being taken out of the political environment and we have been degraded to outlandish solutions for minor problems.

I also find it very interesting how one-sided the argument is in the media. Dan Cathy expresses his views on marriage and is martyred for doing so. This has made national news for weeks now. However, the media and many others have completely ignored similar news that came out at the same time that CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife pledged $2.5 million to the cause of gay marriage in Washington. For some reason, I don’t see thousands of heterosexuals claiming to boycott Jeff and I think most common sense individuals recognized the actions by Bezos at face value. He was expressing his opinion, and he has the funds to support that opinion with millions of dollars. That is exactly what Dan Cathy has tried to do with Chick-Fil-A. Thus, I think that we need to make sure that when we receive information, especially via the media, that we understand the whole picture.

I am grateful that we live in a country where so many different views can be appreciated and expressed. I think, however, that we need to make sure that we express our views in a constructive, not destructive, manner. Hopefully, we can make our decision to go to Chick-Fil-A on how good the chicken sandwich is (I love it!) and not on what the COO believes should be the definition of marriage. Instead, let’s have a constructive debate and dialogue in the political arena about such issues.

Here are a couple of links to places I got my information as well as a good article written in the Huffington Post by a gay man.