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Will the real issues surrounding Chick-fil-A get lost in the controversy?

A reporter called me today for an interview about the “Chick-fil-A Controversy” and I won’t be surprised if some of my comments are shocking to some folks. I suppose it will depend upon what ends up in the article? Listening to him and his questions however brought something into sharp focus for me. There is real confusion as to just what is the issue at stake with Chick-fil-A. Now, we have this tug-of-war type struggle for or against a fast food business chain, and in that battle, I’m afraid the important stuff will get lost. So, here is what I find important to the issue:

  • The Chick-fil-A struggle is not about religious liberty! Folks on both sides of this issue are making this out as if it were about Religion and religious belief. Truly, there is a connection to “Biblical Teachings”… that is Cathy’s own words to describe how he runs his business. But that isn’t the same as religious liberty. The constitution protects an individual’s religious liberty or freedom. In other words, Cathy is allowed and his beliefs protected, no matter what they are. If he personally wants to believe that homosexuality is a sin, that is his protected right. But no where is a for profit business protected this way! Does not exist in the US Constitution. The issue here is about what practices will consumers accept or not accept from a business, and how will that consumer population express their support or lack of it.
  • The Chick-fil-A controversy is not only about Marriage Equality, it is anti-gay every bit as much as it is anti-same-sex marriage. I say this because while marriage seems to be the center of it all. Cathy, by his own words, says his business operates on Biblical teachings. He uses the fact that they close on Sunday and all of their executives are married to their first wives as examples. Well, guess what?  There is no literal definition of marriage in the Hebrew Scriptures that precludes same-sex marriage, and there are scriptures that seem to be critical of homosexuality. So this isn’t really about marriage. This is about accepting gay, lesbian, bi, and trans persons are fully equal and valued members of the whole of our society. No matter how much the religious bigots try and pretend that marriage is Biblically defined as one-man-one woman, there is no such scripture out there. Like many things in the Bible, to arrive at that idea, requires an interpretation of many scriptures, and there are also multiple interpretations.
  • The Chick-fil-A controversy should be about Fairness. The question shouldn’t be if a CEO can have one religious idea or another, but rather, how do we as consumers feel about a business who doesn’t treat everyone fairly.
  • The Chick-fil-A controversy is in the private sector- in the business arena, not in the political arena. This means, that “our rights” as LGBTQ folks are not really relevant on some level. The real question is what will the marketplace accept? and it appears that the marketplace doesn’t really like businesses which have discrimination as a part of their core business practices. Public support (consumer’s) support for Chick-fil-A has been going down, down, and even further down. However, businesses like Starbucks who are embracing diversity, fairness, and equality are showing positive impact on their business.
  • Chick-fil-A is talking out of both sides of it’s beak in an attempt to spin the story. They can claim that they treat all customers fairly and with respect, and that is a good thing. It implies that they are not anti-gay. But how about employees? If Chick-fil-A really wants to be seen as inclusive, let’s see them mandate a non-discrimination policy based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, across all stores within the whole business. As it stands that perpetuate discriminating practices, why trying to put forward an respectful image. That’s a type of hypocrisy.
  • Politicians should get off their soap boxes and actually be leaders!  A  number of folks have pointed out that cities can not keep businesses out based on something like the CEO’s comments. and real politicians ought to quit the posturing and be real leaders for Equality. Rather than threatening to do things they can’t, why aren’t they busy working to get non-discrimination protections in housing, employment and public accommodations everywhere?  ENDA anyone? State-wide protections? In this regard, the politicians are every bit as much of the problem rather than being ay of the solution.

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