Give it to me straight: Chickengate 2012
Just like Chick-fil-A, we get to decide where and how we spend our money. Let’s start by opening our eyes before we open our wallets: improve our local economy, and support businesses that have the right ideas when it comes to what “equal rights” really means.
I’m going to pretend you live under a rock for a minute and briefly recap this whole Chick-fil-A thing. Recently, the COO, Dan Cathy, was quoted as stating:
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…. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that…. We intend to stay the course…. 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.
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.” I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.
These quotes are made even more disturbing when they are accompanied by large monetary donations to anti-gay organizations such as the Marriage & Family Foundation and the Family Research Council. Money that goes to preventing marriage equality in the United States, and continues to work toward denying the rights of domestic partners to their loved one’s health insurance and, in some states, the right to be at their side in the hospital.
Caught up? Are we on the same page? Excellent. Let’s move on.
There’s been a lot of hoopla in the Facebook and Twitter worlds since the reports came out that Chick-fil-A was open about their anti-homosexual practices. Mike Huckabee drummed up support for a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” on August 1st, which resulted in a record sales day for the company. On the other hand, the Jim Henson company pulled their support and denied the restaurant the rights to give Muppets-themed toys to children in their kid-sized meals. Pundits and journalists and bloggers have been screaming at each other IN ALL CAPS about the First Amendment and whether or not Dan Cathy has the right to spend his business’s profits on donations to organizations that are on the wrong side of history.
It’s not about chicken.
It’s not about the First Amendment.
It’s about decisions.
First, let’s talk about Chick-fil-A’s decisions. They decided to run their company based on their personal belief system. While that’s not exactly the model they teach in business school, it’s worked for them as they are still enjoying profits after a number of decades and according to those who have actually eaten there, their sandwiches can be quite addictive. Then, they decided to donate some of their profits to organizations that are in line with their personal beliefs. And those organizations decided to use that money to continue to foster inequality throughout the nation. If you’re reading this blog, odds are you think these are bad decisions, and I agree with you. But they’re not illegal, they’re not violating the First Amendment.
Let’s talk about the First Amendment. The Constitution of the United States says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This means that Congress can’t tell Chick-fil-A to stop doing this. That means that Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston, however badass he is for stepping up and saying in a letter —
I personally stood on City Hall Plaza to greet same sex couples coming here to be married. It would be an insult to them and to our city’s long history of expanding freedom to have a Chick-fil-A across from that spot.
— cannot actively use his powers as mayor to keep the business out of Boston’s city limits (provided the restaurant follows all codes, zoning laws, etc.). But we, as a people, can.
We can do it by not giving them our money. We can do it by encouraging others to not give them money.
So let’s, for a minute, talk about our decisions.
I am a straight woman. In less than two months, I’m marrying the love of my life. And every day that gets closer to my wedding day, I am burning with guilt because most of my friends can’t do the same thing. It’s sickening to think that in this day and age we are still arguing about this.
But we are winning. The fight is long, and arduous, and heart-breaking. But we are getting there. Every single day, a mind is opened, a heart is changed, a company adjusts its policies to include same-sex benefits for its employees, or designs and offers same-sex wedding registries in its stores (I’m talking about you, Target).
The questions you should be asking yourself — regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity — how can I help? What can I do? You can start by shopping smarter. The Human Rights Campaign has an iPhone app that you can download – for free — that will give you the grade of literally hundreds of businesses, according to their efforts toward complete equality for its employees. If you don’t have an iPhone, you can get the same ratings on their website (www.hrc.org/buyersguide/index.php).
Just like Chick-fil-A, we get to decide where and how we spend our money. I’m not talking about just boycotting a brand because it’s trendy, or because that’s what is popular on Facebook now. I’m talking about boycotting a brand because, for me, it’s the only way I can sleep at night. My future husband and I were ordering pizza the other night, and I told him we couldn’t have a certain brand because they didn’t offer discrimination protection for its GLBTQ employees. He nodded once, agreed, and we ate pizza from a local favorite. Improving our local economy, and supporting businesses that have the right ideas when it comes to what “equal rights” really means.
Let’s start by opening our eyes before we open our wallets. Shop local, shop smart, shop for equality. Every dollar we can keep out of the hands of those who would see equal rights fail is a dollar for freedom, true freedom, in this country.
Isn’t it about time?