Once again, the U.S.finds itself in the midst of a polarizing debate over a contentious social issue; gay marriage and Chick-fil-A (CFA). I don’t need to waste space rehashing the particulars of how we got here in the CFA debate. However, I will take up a little space laying down what I think is an important issue being lost in the debate: the inability of people who hate to be brave about it.
To be certain, I don’t believe in what some big-city mayors and aldermen are doing to CFA by restricting the chain from opening restaurants. And, I do believe that the First Amendment protects the rights of CFA, the Ku Klux Klan, Westboro Baptist, and others to say anything they want, no matter how nasty it may be. I also support the ACLU which, while it does not agree with CFA’s stance in this issue, supports the right of the chain to say what it believes in.
However, there are other important issues in play here. Let’s take the Klan for a minute. It is one of the most loathsome organizations on the planet. Yet, to give its members credit, they are open in their hatred of Jews, blacks, homosexuals and others. They are easy to spot and when they mobilize to raise their voices the vast majority of us who oppose everything they believe in can make sure we raise our voices even louder. We know where they stand. We know what they believe. There is no gray area with the Klan. No subtlety. No nuance.
CFA, on the other hand, has used subtlety and nuance to frame its opposition to gay marriage as “support” of traditional marriage, misleading many who believe the chain is now being unfairly persecuted for its beliefs. As I’ve watched the debate play out in print, online and in social media, I’ve wondered how many people standing in line to eat at CFA realize that the chain actively supports Exodus International, which advocates that you can be “cured” of homosexuality, as though it’s some kind of disease.
Or, that CFA supports the Family Research Council, which fights vigorously against civil rights for the LGBT community. So, by spending their dollars at CFA, people are, by association, actively supporting those other groups. While they may claim to be “supporting traditional marriage” by supporting CFA, they are also supporting groups that advocate hatred of others, plain and simple.
Is supporting CFA really about “supporting traditional marriage” or is it just a smokescreen to deny civil rights and equality to gay people? If you’ve been standing in line for its chicken lately, or making anonymous comments on blogs supporting CFA, what are you really supporting?
Do you know anyone whose “traditional marriage” is threatened by the possibility that two gay people may get married? I certainly don’t. Given the divorce rate in this country, it might be wiser for people to spend a little more time working on their own marriage and a little less time fighting against two committed adults who want to get married.
Let’s be clear. I will defend to the end CFA’s First Amendment right to say what it believes in, no matter how vile I may find that belief. But why their subtlety? Why the nuance? Why doesn’t CFA, and others who are against gay marriage or gay people in general, just come right out and say that? Why their cowardice?
Don’t use religion as a backstop. Don’t use the Bible as justification. Use plain language. Just be brave and say, “We hate gay people. We don’t like how they live. We don’t like what they do. And, we don’t want them to be able to get married.” Why don’t they have the guts to stand up for what they believe in, instead of cowering behind the argument that they are “supporting traditional marriage?”
They can say it and we can decide if we want to buy their chicken. And, if they do find the guts to say it, I will assert that we have a right— no, a responsibility—as citizens in a society to say, with an even louder voice, that hatred of others has no place here.
I’ve never spent a dollar at Chick-fil-A and I certainly never will. I support the LGBT community. I support gay marriage. I will fight for equal rights for all citizens in our society and I will teach my children to do the same. And, my name’s on the top of this column.
No subtlety there. And, certainly, no nuance.