Yes, this post is about the controversy swirling around Chick-Fil-A and the statement made by company president Dan Cathy about gay marriage:
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, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
As a supporter of gay marriage, the logical next step would be for me to declare Chick-Fil-A verboten, right? To swear off that yummy breaded sandwich on whole wheat in which the spice in the breading, the tang of the ketchup I add and the sour crunch of the pickle make beautiful music in my mouth, making me forget that I am not, in fact, a judge on Iron Chef feasting on clouds?
When the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) reaffirmed last week their ban on gay members, I immediately decided that Daniel would not join the Boy Scouts when he was old enough because I would not let him participate in a group that proudly and openly discriminated against a group of people. However, when I thought about Chick-Fil-A and the company’s stance, I felt conflicted. And I felt ridiculous about feeling conflicted because we’re talking about a fast food restaurant! Surely it should be easier for me to decide not to give them my business than an influential group that has done so much good for boys like the BSA. I even had a chat with a coworker about the conflict we both shared and joked that if it were Bojangles, McDonalds or any other fast food restaurant, it would be easy to boycott them.
Ridiculous or not, I feel pressure to make the right decision and be able to justify it because I want to set a good example for my son. I want to ensure that decisions I make and actions I take are deliberate and consistent. I also don’t want to be a hypocrite because I really despise them. Is this – gulp – a teachable moment?
This morning I read an article in the Atlantic titled “In Defense of Eating at Chick-Fil-A.” I tweeted it out, and it received more retweets than anything I had ever tweeted before. Flattering. It would be more flattering if it were for something *I* had written but never mind. In the article Merritt questions whether it is right to base our commerce on politics that are not part of the product we are buying or refuse to do business with a company based on its beliefs. In other words, does Chick-Fil-A the company’s belief that marriage is one-man/one-woman impact their ability to make a yummy chicken sandwich and mean that as a supporter of gay marriage, I must no longer eat there?
When I say it like that, it seems a little silly to boycott Chick-Fil-A. If I started looking into the politics of every company that makes a product I buy, shopping would become vastly more difficult and complicated. Take Walmart for example. For every allegation of killing small businesses and discriminating against women that makes me go “ew,” I appreciate that Walmart is using its might for good by requiring its supply chain to meet green standards. I support manufacturing and items Made in the USA, so I should probably stop shopping at Ann Taylor or unfortunately any major store or I could accept that the benefit to me of some items being made overseas is greater affordability and the option to own more than one dress or pair of pants. I know that boycotts can work, and we have the option to vote with our wallets, but at the end of the day, I’m doing a lot of hand-wringing over a chicken sandwich.
Maybe I should look at it as which organization has the potential to do the most harm by its position. Looking at the situation that way, I would conclude it is the BSA. They are overtly excluding homosexuals and have the ability to influence young minds by the nature of who they are. I don’t want my son internalizing that homosexuals are bad or wrong because they cannot join the BSA. On the other hand, while Chick-Fil-A supports conservative charities and is anti-gay marriage, they still serve and presumably employ anyone regardless of sexual orientation. Maybe a chicken sandwich really is just a chicken sandwich in this case.
Edited to add: here are a few other points of view on the issue:
- GEM Debate: the Chick-FIL-A Firestorm, what’s the Beef?
- I’m a Liberal, Gay-Loving Person Who Works at Chick-FIL-A
What are your thoughts on BSA and Chick-Fil-A? How do you decide whether to boycott an organization?