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Walt Hawkins Headshot

Don't Have a Cow Over Chick-fil-A

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A few years ago, I was crushed when it was revealed that the owners of the wildly popular fast food franchise, Chick-fil-A, regularly funnel millions of dollars in profits into anti-gay organizations like Focus on the Family. After all, while growing up in the South, I purchased and consumed more than my share of Chick-fil-A sandwiches. I thought they were delicious. I imagine they still are. It's been a while since I've had one. I cannot, in good conscience, knowingly support a business when there is even a ghost of a chance that my money will be used to promote an ideology that is so anti-me.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, in a recent radio interview, Chick-fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy, when asked about marriage equality, stated, "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,' and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about." This understandably drew immediate ire from the gay and lesbian community and its supporters, including some politicians who discouraged Chick-fil-A from opening restaurants in certain cities. Openly lesbian New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn responded with a petition that was circulated on Twitter, Facebook and the Council's website, in which she demanded an apology from Dan Cathy. Quinn also sent a letter to New York University President John Sexton imploring him to banish the campus's Chick-fil-A restaurant, which, to the best of my knowledge, is the only one in New York City.

I certainly understand Speaker Quinn's dismay over Dan Cathy's utterly ridiculous statement. But, seriously, demanding an apology? For what, exactly? Having an opinion that differs from hers? And to request that NYU remove the Chick-fil-A restaurant on their campus because, as Quinn puts it, "NYC is a place where we celebrate diversity," seems more than a little contradictory to me. When claiming to celebrate diversity, should we really be able to pick and choose what types of diversity we embrace? Shouldn't dissimilarities among religious and political philosophies be included in that celebration?

As far as I know, Chick-fil-A has never refused to serve anyone based on a perceived sexual orientation. If Dan Cathy were as savvy a businessman as I assume he considers himself to be, he probably would have kept his opinion to himself and continued to quietly bankroll organized bigotry while raking in the dough. He instead opted to put his cards on the table, thereby inviting a shitstorm of controversy. Realistically, while this may forever be a stain on Chick-fil-A's reputation, I doubt that it will cause any significant loss of profits. I imagine that whatever (hopefully almost nonexistent) patronage they had managed to retain from the gay community will be completely obliterated. I'm really happy that Dan Cathy went on record with his irrational feelings toward marriage equality. In this great nation, Cathy has every right to say whatever he wants, about whomever he wants. I wish more business operators would be as forthcoming. It's important for us to recognize who and what we are up against.

I take great solace in the knowledge that those of Dan Cathy's ilk, who mistakenly believe that fairness invokes God's judgment, are consistently being proven wrong. The reality is that Cathy's hypersensitive and vengeful God has yet to go all Sodom and Gomorrah on the states and countries that currently recognize marriage equality and He probably never will. We all seem to be doing just fine. As this trend continues, perhaps the whole notion of God's wrath will be exposed for the fallacy that it is and we can move forward. Sadly, there will always be people like Dan Cathy who will gladly throw their money at the charlatans who are more than willing to tell them what they want to hear. Unlike Speaker Christine Quinn, I neither require nor want any sort of coerced, half-assed apology from the likes of Cathy or any other person who makes such remarks, for that matter. It would be wonderful, however, if Mr. Cathy would eschew his "prideful, arrogant attitude" and join the rest of us in the real world. I'd love to, one day, be able to enjoy another Chick-fil-A sandwich.