Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day has been in full swing today, and supporters of Dan Cathy and the company have come out of the woodwork to fill their bellies. Ever since Boston and Chicago city leaders declared that they'd do whatever they could to keep the chain from opening any more restaurants in certain areas (in Boston, it was the Freedom Trail), Christian conservatives became enraged at this seeming attack on Cathy's right to free speech.
In North Texas, not far from Dallas, parking lots were crammed full, and some customers even had to park away from the restaurant. It isn't surprising that at one location, the CFA is located in the strip mall where a large evangelical church serves as the anchor, and another branch is located in the same shopping center as a Sam's Club. Inside all three local eateries, no tables were available, and it was standing room only.
A woman who brought her three children to feast on nuggets and ice cream told Gather News that she was there to support free speech and that "around these parts, God's law remains intact." She went on to express concern that liberals were being hypocritical about Cathy's freedom of speech because they were condemning him for stating his beliefs.
This is not a freedom of speech issue. It is a civil rights issue, and Dan Cathy injected himself into this by answering a question about gay marriage. When the head of a company puts that out there, he needs to be prepared for whatever amount of backlash comes his way.
Chalk one up for the religious zealots who show their freedom of speech by stuffing their faces with chicken nuggets and waffle fries. While today and the next few days might be great for business, just as many people who were once loyal customers will no longer be eating there. Many of these formerly loyal customers are the very people affected by company's policy: the LGBT community.
Cathy and Co. donate millions of dollars to the Family Research Council, the organization that claims all gays are pedophiles. The company also donates heavily to Exodus International, an organization dedicated to "praying away the gay." Both of these organizations actively demonize homosexuality by spreading lies and religious propaganda against anyone who isn't totally and completely straight.
The ironic part of this is that for years it's been a well-known secret that CFA is a family owned company run by Christian conservatives. One would know this by their policy of giving their employees Sunday off so they can attend church and spend time with their families. In response, some folks are bemused at the sudden outrage in the LGBT community and their supporters after it came out that CFA's president said on a radio program that he believes gay marriage is against God's law.
Even people who support LGBT causes say Boston and Chicago went too far and crossed a line by saying the company is no longer welcome in their towns. That being said, however, the fact remains: Chick-fil-A promotes discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons by giving millions of dollars in donations to anti-gay groups.
While the company is getting supportive tweets, there have been a good amount of people expressing dismay at the company and its supporters, with just as many people who say they don't care one way or another, as long as the food is good. One person even raised an interesting question: Would folks be showing their support if Dan Cathy came out against interracial marriage?
In this day and age, it's amazing that the United States is still in the middle of this heated debate. Equality is equality, regardless of race, gender preference, or religious creed.
This isn't the only firestorm CFA is enduring. Brenda Honeycutt, a Duluth, Georgia, woman, is suing the company for gender discrimination. She claims that she was fired by the branch's owner/operator so she could be a "stay-at-home mom." Honeycutt's lawsuit alleges that Jeff Howard, the owner of the branch, held meetings without her and then after he fired her without cause, replaced her with a male.
Her reviews put her in the satisfactory/above satisfactory range. It would have been understandable if she'd been a problem employee, but she wasn't.
While on paper, the company's getting beaten up by both straight women and the LGBT. However, in the South, "traditional" values reign supreme...unfortunately.