Column: Want gay fries with that?

An Angus Reid poll from March of this year suggest 48 per cent of Americans are still opposed to gay marriage

Why did the chicken cross the road? To escape the clutches of a homophobic fast food restaurant.

Crap, I screwed up the punchline. It’s supposed to be: to escape the clutches of a fast food restaurant that supports traditional family values.

A few weeks back, Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-fil-A (an American chicken chain), was asked by a small Baptist newspaper whether he supports same-sex marriage.

He indirectly answered the question, saying, “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. 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 principle.”

Well Cathy was right about his views being unpopular.

Since then, a nationwide boycott of Chick-fil-A was launched and supported by an overwhelming number of Americans who defend gay marriage.

Cathy, the businessman, was martyred because of his personal views, which don’t seem to be related to his business practices. His restaurants still hire homosexuals and serve fried chicken to gay customers, if they so choose to work or eat there.

And though I disagree wholeheartedly with Cathy’s stance on gay marriage, he’s absolutely right that he can openly share his values and operate on biblical principle, if he so chooses.

And he’s not alone.

An Angus Reid poll from March of this year suggest 48 per cent of Americans are still opposed to gay marriage. That means Cathy’s not alone by any means. Statistically speaking, some 48 per cent of the owners of the businesses at which you shop share a similar view.

But 48 per cent is now a minority. And that minority is shrinking.

It seems Canada is more progressive, at 36 per cent opposition. But that’s still a high number.

And it’s likely – though I don’t want to generalize – that the majority of those who don’t support same-sex marriage probably operate, like Cathy, on biblical principles, or other religious scriptures.

To boycott a company whose president doesn’t share the same religious views as you is silly. To boycott a company whose president doesn’t share the same political views as you is ridiculous. But to boycott a company whose president openly supports a form of inequality is reasonable.

And it’s unfortunate the Chick-fil-A employees who don’t agree with Cathy’s stance – even those who do – are being branded and chastised for being affiliated with a homophobic company, but Cathy must’ve known the impact a public statement on this issue would have.

Not only that, apparently the company annually donates millions of dollars to organizations and groups that actively and openly oppose same-sex marriage.

That’s where I draw the line. Chick-fil-A doesn’t operate in Canada, so I can’t boycott it for reasons other than its unhealthy, deep-fried menu options.

It’s one thing for a businessman to come forward and state his stance on an issue – I may disagree with you, for reasons of equality or religion, but your views are your own. I wouldn’t boycott you for that.

However, it’s another thing entirely to use your company’s profits to finance groups whose sole objective is to deny equal rights to a portion of the population that includes some of your employees and customers. That’s boycott-worthy.

I realistically don’t expect to change anyone’s stance on gay marriage with this column. Your views, like mine, are founded in each of our upbringings and our understandings of our social and political environments.

But I, like many, should thank Cathy for coming out and publicly stating his position on such a divisive issue – even if it makes no sense for a businessman to wade into the discussion.

At least there’s an awareness now of where money goes once it’s exchanged for Chick-fil-A Chick-n-Strips; I wouldn’t want to knowingly have my money finance discriminatory ventures.

Maybe more business owners should be as open.


Kyle Slavin is a reporter with the Saanich News.



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