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Why I’d Eat at Chick-fil-A

| July 31, 2012

Dan Cathy meets Joan Miro.

By Bill Cotterell

If I were a fan of its chicken-and-pickle sandwich, I’d eat again at Chick-fil-A, just to send a message to the sanctimonious, self-congratulatory organizers of a boycott campaign that is targeting the business.

Big city mayors and city councils have angrily announced that Chick-fil-A is unwelcome in their towns because CEO Dan Cathy believes marriage should remain a heterosexual institution. His company has made large financial contributions to fight ordinances favored by gay activists.

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Personally, I disagree with Cathy. Government should no more refuse to recognize same-sex unions than it should make heterosexuality a requisite for a building permit, fishing license or utilities hook-up. I don’t care if couples want to call their arrangements a marriage, a civil union or a commitment ceremony. They’re not hurting anybody.

But I also hope that years from now, I won’t be hauled before a congressional committee or investigated by the FBI for writing that paragraph. I hope no one will hurt me economically because of things I’ve said or candidates I’ve supported. Reporters don’t make campaign contributions but, like Cathy, I have a legal right to do so if journalism ethics permitted it.

There’s a burgeoning boycott of Chick-fil-A because of the political views of its ownership. Its 1,600 stores are not open on Sundays and employees are offered certain lifestyle advice. Some employees have sued, claiming policies infringed on their rights, but that happens in any big business.

Florida Voices columnist Steve Kurlander last week wrote in support of the boycott, accusing Chick-fil-A of “hatred” and “bigotry” for opposing the “right” of gay couples to marry. But Cathy did not express hatred or bigotry, he just stated his own views on a major public-policy issue. Nor has it been established that marriage rises to the level of a constitutional right.

Voters in 32 states, including Florida, have defined marriage the old-fashioned way. Some six states, plus the District of Columbia, recognize same-sex unions, by law or court decree. These actions are subject to reversal by future generations, but it cannot be sensibly argued that same-sex marriage exists as a “right” right now.

Merely asserting a right to something does not make it a right. That takes congressional action, or a court ruling, which has not yet happened nationwide.

That means this isn’t about marriage. It’s about free speech and political participation.


Advocates of the boycott like to ask, “If the Ku Klux Klan wanted a restaurant, should the mayor allow it?” The short answer is, yes. A KKK business wouldn’t last long, since the first rule of selling chicken sandwiches is that you have to be smarter than the chicken. But it’s not the government’s place to make sure a business owner agrees marriage should be a right for homosexuals. Even President Obama didn’t take such a stand, until a couple of months ago.

We’ve seen such governmental bigotry before. About 60 years ago, the House Un-American Activities Committee and Sen. Joe McCarthy’s oversight committee grilled Hollywood actors, writers, directors and political activists about petitions they had signed, and marches they were in, during the Depression or World War II. And television networks blacklisted some who had been sympathetic to Moscow.

Many were starry-eyed liberals playing at politics. But many really were “card-carrying Communists,” the popular sneer of the day.

So what? They had a First Amendment right to be.

Today, college students are demanding that Chick-fil-A be kicked off campuses. Mayors or city commissioners in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington have told the company not to set up shop. Boycott organizers have urged advertisers to shun the New Year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. There will be pressure on the networks not to carry the game.

Today’s Chick-fil-A protestors have a right to their self-conscious political correctness. But once they stifle Dan Cathy’s right to speak, they’d better hope the prevailing political wind never blows back on themselves.

Bill Cotterell is a retired senior writer for the Tallahassee Democrat. He can be contacted here.

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34 Responses for “Why I’d Eat at Chick-fil-A”

  1. JL says:

    I agree that everyone should have a right to free speech as long as it does not threaten or slander another. Chic-fill-A has a right to their opinion. And people have the right to protest by not going to their establishment. However, the Government does need to get involved to some aspect. They should not interfere with business because they disagree with their views. However, it is up to Government to say whether same sex marriage is a legal union or not.
    I hope the day will come when same-sex marriages are considered a legal union throughout all the country. It doesn’t matter what your biblical beliefs are. This is a matter of a legal contract. So what if two people of the same sex want to commit to each other. Who are we to say NO, you can’t! It’s obsurd! If they are in love, let it be! They’re not asking to carry a weapon, they’re not asking to be allowed to hurt someone. They just want to be considered married in the eyes of the law. We have bigger things to worry about than whether or not 2 women or 2 men want to commit in a relationship.

    I will choose not to spend my money at a Chik-fil-a because I disagree with the owner spending his money trying to keep the institution of same-sex from becoming a law. Not because I disagree with his beliefs (which I DO). But I will not give him $.05 of MY money so he can use it to stop this legislation. That’s where the differenc lies. And kudos to the college kids for fighting for something they believe in. No matter what it is. It’s time people speak up for their beliefs instead of remaining quiet because it is not politically correct.

  2. Samuel Smith says:

    I agree, I think the political action taking place is ridiculous and is being done by politicians to get attention for themselves, and that’s it. They should be allowed to donate to whoever they want to, the Klan included.

    With that said, between their political activism and the smugness of the defense of their position I plan on voting with my money and eating elsewhere.

  3. Nancy N. says:

    Boycotts aren’t about the first amendment! You’re right – Cathy has the right to SAY whatever he wants. But Chick-Fil-A is taking the profits from its business and donating it to campaigns against gay rights. Therefore, if you spend your money at Chick-Fil-A, you are indirectly funding opposition to gay rights. Boycotts are about saying “I don’t want the money I spend going to fund the fight against gay rights.” Consumers have every right to make decisions that they don’t want to spend their money at businesses that will use it to fund causes that are in direct opposition to their own moral beliefs.

    Why isn’t it “just a first amendment issue” when conservatives threaten (or actually do) boycott liberal businesses for that same reason? You can’t have your chicken and eat it too.

  4. question says:

    Mayors denying Chick-fil-A the business an opportunity to locate in their cities: Wrong.

    • Liana G says:

      Agreed. Let Chick-fil-A open their business and then let the citizens reject their products. This equals fail business.

      I am not a fan of fastfood but as a mom of 4, when we needed to, this was our pick because their chicken strips are not mechanically separated mysterious mush, they serve fresh squeeze lemonade, and their coffee is good and comes with flavored creamers. In addition, the staff is always friendly and the establishment very clean and beckoning. So with this impression in mind we contemplated opening a Chick-fil-A in PC since there was/is none there. This was several years ago when we decided to move back to PC after living a little over a year in GA. The housing market was in free fall and our house had been on the market for over a year without any reasonable offers made. However, our irreligiousity worked against us. Blessing in disguise? Sorry Chick-fil-A. You just lost a sporadic customer.

    • Witchy Mamma says:

      Actually, the mayor did not deny the Chic-fil-a the ability to build or operate a store in Boston. You’re right. He can’t do that. However, he can show his displeasure at having such a business operating within his city. Again… this is the mayor’s First Amendment Right to do so.

  5. Magnolia says:

    There is no more free speech in this country. If you say something somebody doesn’t like, you’re a racist or a homophobe or they cancel your twitter account.

    I think most of us would agree we were doing better before the government got into all this, politicizing even gay marriage. Politicians shouldn’t be in the business of deciding which businesses succeed or fail anymore than jobless college students. No wonder we’re failing. Everybody is too busy minding everybody else’s business.

    • Nancy N. says:

      Oh there’s plenty of free speech in this country – but if you say something unpopular or hateful, you can’t expect that there won’t be consequences for it. But you still have the right to say it, which is what free speech is all about – and then pay the price from the community around you for making your statement.

      Free speech means the government can’t restrict your speech. It doesn’t mean I can’t disagree and tell you you’re a jerk for saying what you said.

      I think we are more quick to call people prejudiced these days because most of us are more aware of how discrimination and hatred can manifest in subtle ways. We recognize its ugliness hiding in places that a generation or so would not have been questioned. The thing is that not everyone understands that. A lot of people who are anti-gay marriage will tell you that they honestly don’t think they are prejudiced against gays. They simply do not understand that when you categorically give one group of people more rights than another, that is discrimination and prejudice in action. No matter how you frame or sugar coat it.

  6. Outsider says:

    “Merely asserting a right to something does not make it a right. That takes congressional action, or a court ruling, which has not yet happened nationwide.”

    Ah, the liberal view of rights: do we really need congressional action or a court ruling to grant us life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? We can’t pursue happiness until the government says we can??? I’ll stick with the idea that rights are God-given, and the government can only protect or take away those rights. Rahm Emanuel’s attempt to keep Chic-Fil-A out of Chicago is a perfect example of the latter. I’ve met Ray Cathy, and I’ve eaten at his restaurants many times, and will make it a point to eat there more often. Yes, I agree that marriage is between a man and a woman, and if you don’t like that, tough crappola. It’s my right to have opinions.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Ah, a very minor story with Legs only because both the left and the right each see a perfect opportunity to do the Church Lady Superiority Strut to point the Finger of Unreasonableness at the hard headed stupidity of the buffoons on the other side of the aisle. And for the first time in my memory, they are both right. And by right I mean they are both behaving like idiots.

      I have been to Chic Fil-A back when I thought it was just a fast food joint and not a Cause. But it was better. Clean as a pin, food too good for the genre. A God Damned Maitre d’ who welcomed you in the door, sat you at your table and stopped by to ask if you needed anything! And if you did, he actually went and got it! Ketchup, napkins, whatever! And then I heard they paid a living wage, paid for or at least subsidized their employees insurance, in other words paid Benefits for working at a fast food joint! Wow! How Progressive!

      I also heard that the employees were mostly hired from the local fundamentalist Christian churches as was the policy of the owner Ray Cathy seeing as they matched his beliefs. OK, it’s his joint, and it seems to be working to improve my fast food experience. Compared to Ray’s place, a trip to Mickey D’s is like trying to get a visa at the old East German embassy, and so as long as they don’t try to convert me at the register, I can live with that.

      But then ol’ Ray went out of his way to speak out and bash the very thought of Gay Marriage. And even though you have no idea how little I care about where two adult men like to play Hide the Pee-Pee, even I felt that ol’ Ray was telling me I had to make a choice. So I will. And since I don’ t ever recall a Chic Fil-A alone on a desert highway forty miles to the next watering hole, I’m thinking I will go across the intersection to one of the other six outlets for my Corporate Cusine needs, even if it means eating East German.

      And like my Conservative friend Outsider points out above we do have our own values and points of view. You know what they say about opinions, they are different but the same! No that’s not it. They all are rough around the edges and most stink! Naa.. All of them only exist to pass out tough crappola, except for the Gay ones! Noooo… C’mon I know this one. OH YEA! They’re like assholes!! We all have one, and yours isn’t one that I would possibly value, so keep it to yourself! THAT’S IT!

      In conclusion I would like to say this is not about Scripture, it;s not about Constitutional Rights, in the end it;s just about a fucking chicken sandwich, so let’s all get s grip people, shall we?

  7. BW says:

    I too believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. The very word marriage to me means a sacred union of a man and woman before God and the commitment to bring new life into the world.

    Does that mean I hate homosexuals? No, I do not. Do I think they should be allowed to have a union recognized by the state under civil law? Yes, I do. Do I think that someone should not be discriminated against because of their preference? No, they should not.

    The problem is that the debate is actually going too far and the goals have become lost. If you want the state to recognize same-sex unions that is fine, but you can not expect others to throw away their values and opinions. You can not expect religious groups to change their doctrine or values. A civil law does not always make something morally right. You can not expect to not have others force their opinions on you if you yourself want to force your opinions on others.

    In terms of Chik-Fil-a . . . a huge round of applause to this company. They have a strong sense of values and stick to them. They sacrifice huge amounts of revenue and profits by not opening on Sundays. “Have blessed day” is commonly said. Something else is very interesting in their restaurants . . . the staff is always pleasant, the environment is immaculate, and the food is pretty good. Their competitors don’t come close. So who’s got it right?

    • Nancy N. says:

      See, here’s the problem…This is really a semantic debate more than a more one, because the term “marriage” means different things in different contexts and to different people. To you, in the context of your religious beliefs, it means something sacred governed by the laws of your church. BUT the government assigns a different meaning to the word marriage – to the government the term “marriage” means nothing but a legal contract between two people that assigns them a certain status and benefits under the law. It’s no different than an adoption or a sale of a house. It has no moral value – it’s a transaction in the eyes of the government. Your religious beliefs see marriage as something that is “blessed by God” and sealed by your priest or minister. The state of Florida , however, only needs a notary public to sign the marriage license to make it legal. (yes, really – in Florida a Notary Public can perform marriages – I was married by one)

      So the problem here is that we have two different institutions – the church and the government – using the same word to describe two very different things. Perhaps we need to solve this by starting to make more of a distinction like the British make – civil marriage and religious marriage – in our society.

    • Witchy Mamma says:

      So if a marriage was officiated by Pagan Clergy and in a truck stop bathroom is it any less official or legal than one conducted in a church by a priest. No. They are both equally legal and official. Why? Because we filed paperwork with the GOVERNMENT! Not with a church. The argument that this is a covenant between One Man One Woman and The Lord does not hold water, because it does not apply to every marriage in the country. If you want your marriage recognized by the church great. I don’t. I don’t need your God in my affairs.

  8. Elaygee says:

    Sorry but yes, you do hate Gay people if you use your fantasy bible book to discriminate against them. If your religions dictates discrimination, its still discrimination and has no place in civil law.

  9. Karma says:

    Waited in line a half hour today for lunch at the chick -fil-A. The people in line never complained about the wait and the food was good. Maybe it was just their Christian Values, not Chicago Values.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      “I’ll get all my papers and smile at the sky
      For I know that the hypnotized never lie, Do ya?”

      The Who, Won’t Get Fooled Again

  10. JL says:

    It is unfortunate if some of you believe that God would not honor a gay marriage. God made them, us, me, you. We are ALL God’s children. We may not like each other all of the time. But we are all made from the same cloth.
    My God loves all his children. Black, white, asian, Mexican, Canadian, gay, straight, those with 12 toes, those with no arms, the deaf, the blind. I think you get my drift.
    Now it’s time to tell the government, it’s no big deal to allow two people of the same sex to be married.

  11. Chuck says:

    Last I knew most religions were against gay marriage. Are they going to tell all the churches they aren’t welcome? If you take a stance it should be applied equally.

  12. goalie says:

    last time i checked Cathy only said he believed in the biblical sense of marriage, he didn’t sit there and bask gays over and over again. His restaurants don’t discriminate when you go in. It doesn’t say we won’t serve gays.

    As for what Chik-fil-a does with their money is their choice. They can give to whoever they want. Just like any business owner has a right to give their money to anyone, such as politicians who I don’t agree with but they do.

    Everyone needs to get over chik-fil-a. If you don’t want to eat there don’t or do, move on.
    We live in a society now that if you don’t agree with gay marriage your a horrible human being, if you do then you are going against God. We all have our right to our own point of view until it becomes something that is against the law.

    • Nancy N. says:

      See, the thing is, this shouldn’t be an appropriate choice. Some people are waking up to the fact that this is a civil rights issue. Others are trying to hold onto their prejudices by hiding behind the bible. Substitute “black” for “gay” in this discussion and what do you get? In fact, let’s look at two similar news stories this week and see exactly what you get…

      Dan Cathy says that gay marriage should not be allowed. He is condemned by many, and his supporters scream “free speech” and “religious freedom” and that it’s a matter of opinion that he should be allowed his own views.

      On the other hand, a Baptist Church in Mississippi tells an African-American couple that they cannot marry (in their church) and there is universal outrage. No one defends the church on the basis of “free speech” or “religious freedom” or that it’s just a matter of opinion that they feel that way.

      So why is it OK to discriminate against one group but not the other in these two similar situations? And before you start in on “the bible condemns homosexuality” as the justification – the bible also says it is fine to own slaves but we’ve somehow decided it’s best to ignore that part of the bible in favor of a more humane interpretation of life. So why not on this too?

  13. Samuel Smith says:

    I’d totally eat Chik-fil-A if my money went to putting in “gays only” and “straights only” water fountains. Maybe even some seats out back where the homosexuals can eat their food so the straight people can eat in privacy without having to look at someone gay

  14. jespo says:

    The irony of this whole holy poultry crusade is that the domestication of chickens began 8 thousand years ago in Asia for the purpose of cock-fighting…2 thousand years before christians believe the world was even created. Never ones to pass on the opportunity to make utter fools of themselves they’re still raising their books to the heavens and are now praising themselves for their beliefs and their position on cocks….how to serve cock, when to serve cock, who is the appropriate customer of cock, and so on and so forth because it’s an all important matter for the christians at Chick fil A and they just can’t wait to get their fill of it everyday. They have so much of it that they want to fill you with it too, just not on Sundays. Thats a no-no. Not suprisingly, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman just LOVE to fill themselves up with it then let the whole world know.

    Family values. This from a Canaanite god of war who drowned all but 8 of his children because he created them wrong then commanded them to be right. Family values. This from a religion started by a mercenary named Abram who marries his half sister Sarai and had sex with her young servant girl just to have a kid, then kicked the girl and his son out of the house after his sister/wife got pregnant with god’s help. Family values. This from a religion whose book’s second half starts with the rape of a 12-14yo Galilean girl named Mary, already betrothed to a man, by god so he could impregante her with himself so he could be born only to later have himself killed so he could rise from the dead to show us how great he is. This is the religion of Family values????

    This is America and you have the right to your beliefs, as ridiculous as they may be. Just know that I don’t have an obligation to respect your beliefs and I don’t; I simply tolerate your limitations as human beings. If you own a business and you donate your proceeds to organizations that make it their purpose to thwart civil or human rights we reserve the right to boycott your business. Christians are the last people on Earth who have the right to complain that they’re being treated differently when your entire religion is about seperating one from another…good from bad, man from woman, freeman from slave, saved from damned, childhood from innocence so don’t complain when you’re the outcast pariah when you used to burn yours….

  15. Dorothea says:

    Chik-fil-A has 17 discrimination lawsuits against it. They didn’t happen the morning after Dan Cathy made his statement, but have been ongoing for years. Nor did the efforts to keep Chik-fil-A out of cities like Chicago happen suddenly after Cathy made his statement. Whether discriminatory practices are cause to keep a business from building in a given city is right or wrong is another argument. But it’s not as simple as Dan Cathy made a statement and everybody suddenly decided to boycott or patronize Chik-fil-A. Cathy’s statement only brought the company’s discriminatory practices to the attention of the entire country. If you support employment discrimination keep chompin’ away at Chik-fil-A’s chicken.

  16. NortonSmitty says:

    Well, I knew it was only a matter of time before YUM! Brands KFC would try to tale advantage of this Nationwide controversy! http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/e86050c415/kfc-loves-gays-with-john-goodman?playlist=featured_videos

  17. jespo says:

    And by the way….everyone talking about the level of customer service at Chick fil A has failed to understand how sickeningly they’ve been played as ignorant, servile, and useless as human beings and is truly testament to how grossly unacceptable we are as a society to accept the level of service at a fast food chicken joint as more relevant than the attitude and civil acceptance of human nature. I’ll give ketchup to those who want just the chicken…to those who wish a simple meal, human experience, and American culture…I give my heart in the cooking…

  18. Karma says:

    Funny how God blesses people who do the right thing. Chick-fil-A could have spent tens of millions of dollars advertising their product and never got the same results. Let’s see how the big “Kiss In” works on Friday. Bet it will be a big flop.

  19. Meh says:

    I eat chick fil a because it’s delicious…I could care less what the owners think about gay marriage lol.

    I think people as a whole need to chill out a bit….

    • Deep South says:

      I totally agree. I eat at chick- Fil-A because I love their chicken. When I walk into a Chick-Fil-A I’m not thinkin about a person’s race, or belief. Let me spend my hard earn money where I please. Y’all need to lightin up a little, and quick gettin all riled up over nothin.

  20. PJ says:

    Say what you want they have great chicken so I’ll eat there. I have no opinion on the gay thing and treat people as to who they are and what they are “good or bad.”

    I don’t care about one persons opinon even though the CEO of the company has an opinion that sparks an issue. He is just the boss at chick-fil-a.

    No matter how big the ego that is where his opinion really means anything for his employees.

    He likely rather make cows extinct too if he had a choice is all I’m sayin……………………….

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