Chris Marston: The politics of Chick-fil-A
I am a straight male. I am married to my lovely wife Cathy and have a beautiful 10-year old daughter named Katie. Many of you already know that. I have not eaten at Chick-Fil-A in over 6 months. It is not that I do not like chicken. It is not that I have to drive over 30 minutes to get to the closest franchise. It is not because I disagree with their corporately shared religious and social beliefs. It is simply because that Chick-Fil-A does not show up on my radar when I think about what I want to eat when I or my family is hungry.
The funny thing about it is that when we do go out, I find myself eating chicken or fish when we do go out to eat. I have no aversion to beef or pork, but I choose chicken and fish more often than not. In fact, it is rare that I eat a fast food hamburger.
That being said, I am reminded of my business partners and friends in Staunton – one of which recently blogged about his opinion of Chick-Fil-A stance on homosexuality. He posted (about 36 hours before the big social media uproar blew up I might add) that although he and his wife frequented the franchise near him several times a week, that he had had his last chicken sandwich from there. He disagreed with the stance that they took against being gay.
Now he did not wave a flag and lead a charge to boycott. He did not ask others to join in his chicken abstinence. He did not sell his ovarian related stocks. He printed his opinion and shared it with the world and let the world decide which side of the fence to stand on.
That is what we do in America. He was free to do what he did as entitled to his personal freedoms. So was the leadership of Chick-Fil-A. There was no corporate decision to raise the “gaydar” meter in Chick-Filet-A. They have not asked you to show your card as a “straight” person in order to get served there. And (with all due respect to my African-American friends and those of color around the world) there was no sign saying that GAYS NOT SERVED HERE.
They took a stance. It was well known the religious beliefs and values that Chick-Filet-A had prior to this uproar. They are not open on Sunday for instance. The fact that they have moral beliefs and feel strongly about them is awesome. It is a testament to the America that I am proud to live in.
As I said before, I am straight. I have gay friends. I have close friends that are gay. I have no social prejudice towards them whatsoever. I have close family members who disagree with homosexuality for moral, religious even social reasons. That is fine. I don’t disown my family for their opinions. I don’t disavow my friendships either. I tolerate both sides of the argument because of who I am.
There are several aspects of life that you cannot control. Health. Employment. Finances. Being a member of the middle class makes these things important, especially during these recent times of economic uncertainty. They are the topics of political fervor. However, just like the frailty of life itself, none of these are to be taken for granted as these and many more can be taken in the blink of an eye.
Abortion. Homosexuality. Social Security. Medicare/Medicaid. Gun Rights. Being a member of the human race makes these things important. Whichever side of the fence you may stand. It is important to pick a side. It is a sad thing that these issues decide who is and who is not on the Supreme Court. However, it is an evil that must exist if we are to have the ability to freely choose what makes each of us individuals.
Chris Graham did not choose to end his personal business with Chick-Fil-A because they wronged him personally. He expressed his displeasure with the social beliefs of a company being (forgive the term) “preached” to America’s gay community. He had a right to do so. Insomuch, Chick-Fil-A had the right to take the stand in the first place.
Many were upset to find out that Chick-Fil-A donates large amounts of money to groups and political candidates who take a stance similar to theirs on the issue of “gay rights.” And Phillip Morris, Exxon, pharmaceutical companies and other Wall Street heavyweights don’t do the same? Of course not. It is an extension of the freedom shared by everyone in this great country.
They are not, however, in any way lining up homosexuals and leading them to the gas chamber. No social agenda is being put into place; just a declaration of belief – and implementation of the right to speak out.
Again, Chick-Fil-A is not excluding homosexuals the right to eat in their establishment. If anything, they (again excuse the terminology) “came out of the closet,” although many already knew of their social distain of being gay.
So is the issue worth comparing to the U.S. Civil Rights struggle or the holocaust of all things? Probably not. The point is, however, that being gay or straight is a matter of personal choice – a freedom that has not always existed at least openly. Acceptance of that choice is again one which is a similar freedom that we each share, regardless of which side of the fence we find ourselves on.
Personally, as already stated, I have no problem with those that choose to live their lifestyle in that way. I am not a religious zealot by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is my belief that my personal walk with my God, is just that – personal. In my opinion (my sincerest apologies to all of my writing teachers), as long as I serve no other gods, worship no idols, don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, remember the Sabbath, honor my mom and dad, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, don’t bear false witness and don’t covet my neighbor – I follow the rules set out for me to live my life.
Corporate leaders of Chick-Fil-A did not break any of the 10 Commandments. They expressed their opinion. Chris Graham did not break any of the 10 Commandments either. He expressed his opinion. Millions of others have done so also. They have and continue to express their opinions.
Who should care if Chris Graham or anyone does not eat at Chick-Fil-A anymore? Who really cares what Chick-Fil-A or any entity, corporate or personal, does with their money? It is an extension of their right to have an opinion and right to be different. It is an entitlement of Americans. It is a choice. It is a belief. It is an extension of one’s personal spiritual/religious/moral walk.
It should not a pedestal to make a political statement. It should not be the vehicle in which a person is outed for their personal beliefs. It should not deter people from making decisions about causes that they feel strongly for or against.
Not everybody will ever share the same beliefs as everybody else. That is what makes life in the United States of America great. It is called life. It is what makes life fun and worth living.
As for me, I will probably continue to “eat more chicken” when I go out to eat. But today, I think I will eat a cheeseburger. It has been a long time coming.
Chris Marston is the editor of www.LurayPageFreePress.com.