The other day a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was boycotting our local Chick-fil-A based on her disagreement with their corporate moral and ethical policies. Since I was out of the loop, I naturally had to go Google Chick-fil-A and see what recent events prompted this strong sentiment from my friend. Argh. I had no idea that CEO Dan Cathy decided to publicly state his views – and thereby tie them to his company – condemning same-sex marriage.
Truly this was a bonehead move by Cathy. Since many national companies the restaurant partners with for enhancing its own sales (like the Jim Henson Co.), have clearly stated that their policy is to support gay marriage, Cathy set his company up for the inevitable backlash of these highly visible companies. Mike Huckabee entered the argument in support of Chick-fil-A by posting on his Facebook page, “Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we're considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant.” What Governor Huckabee fails to realize (or publicly acknowledge) is that those corporations and groups who speak out against same-sex marriage are called homophobic because they ARE homophobic. Why else would you feel the need to spout off viewpoints about something that does not affect you? Why would you care if people of the same sex decide to make a lifelong commitment to each other in the form of a licensed marriage? How does it affect your own marriage? How does it affect your personal life in any way? In my opinion, the ONLY reason someone would deny another couple the opportunity to declare their love for each other is if they are somehow offended by the act. Just because you think God doesn’t want it that way does not make you a godly or righteous person, nor does it give you the authority to determine who should or should not get married. So, yes, if you are openly opposed to gay marriage, you are at least a bigot, and quite probably a homophobe.
But, back to the real issue at stake here. What Governor Huckabee stated about liberal corporations showing support for same sex marriage without media criticism is true. But there are a couple of differences between what those companies have done and what Dan Cathy did by speaking on behalf of Chick-fil-A. One, the corporations who have publicly stated their support for gay marriage have done so out of respect for the rights of their employees. They have stated their corporate policy in an effort to facilitate change for some of the people they rely on to carry out their day-to-day operations in order that their companies succeed. Conversely, Chick-fil-A’s statement against same-sex marriage does nothing to improve the lives of any of its employees, or its franchise owners. In fact, it hurts these owners and the citizens of the communities in which these franchises conduct their business. When a company openly states that it will block, or at the very least, disagree with, efforts of local lawmakers to ensure equal rights for all citizens, the company runs the risk of counterattacks from those who are seeking these rights. While it is one thing for proponents of same-sex marriage to boycott a national entity like Disney, it is an altogether different story when people decide to boycott a locally-owned business. An international conglomerate like Disney can well afford to take a public stance in regards to social questions because they do not rely on local entrepreneurs to sustain their business. They are in a financial position where they can afford to take “risks” with their public image in an effort to promote issues that are important to their employees. Conversely, my local Chick-fil-A franchise owner must rely solely on his sales here in Joplin in order to pay his bills, which include his franchise fees that he must pay to the corporation. Additionally, my local government relies on sales tax revenue collected from this same franchise to help fund many of its programs and services offered to those of us who live, work, and play in our city. So, it is not in my best interest to boycott my local Chick-fil-A over my disagreement with its CEO about gay marriage.
How, then, do we make our displeasure with the company’s social stance known in a productive, effective manner? We write. We write letters of support to the Jim Henson Co. thanking them for taking a stand and refusing to work with Chick-fil-A on its new children’s toys (and for donating the proceeds received from the corporation thus far to GLAAD). We go to Governor Huckabee’s Facebook page and explain that we disagree with his belief that God only wants straight people to marry (or that God only loves straight people). We write letters to Chick-fil-A CEO Danny Cathy reminding him that most state supreme courts have ruled that bans on gay marriage are a direct violation of citizens’ civil rights. We write blog posts like this one stating our position on the matter and calling for a reversal in policy by the company. And maybe we limit our consumption of Chick-fil-A each week. After all, how much fried chicken and Chick-fil-A sauce should we consume each week, anyway?
Thanks so much for reading!
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