Hunger Games: What's The Big Fuss About Chic-Fil-A?
What does a chicken sandwhich have to do with gay marriage?
“I don’t care I’m hungry.”
That blunt statement from 31-year old "Randy" of East Point, Ga., as he walked out of a nearby Chic-Fil-A restaurant, just about sums up the overall sentiment of the current controversy the fast food chicken chain finds itself in. People are hungry.
Randy, who declined to give his last name, says he’s been eating Chic-Fil-A since he played Little League Baseball. The local franchisee supplied after game meals for his team. He and many others in the Atlanta share similar memories of the proudly faith-based company that is just as known for its addictive lemonade as it is for its unbending Christian-practices, which includes being closed on Sundays.
So when Chic-Fil-A COO Dan Cathy made statements in an interview last week saying that he was “guilty as charged” when it came to his pro-traditional marriage stance, not many in Atlanta, or in the South where Chic-FIl-A is a staple, were surprised.
It’s not rare to walk into a Chic-Fil-A restaurant and see walls plastered with messages promoting everything from helping others to chastity. It’s a common thing to see local churches partner up with franchises to give young kids in their congregations summer jobs.
But, to the rest of the country, where Chic-Fil-A is only vaguely known as the place with the cows who can’t spell, Cathy’s statements came off as bigoted and out of line.
In case you’ve yet to see what he actually said, here is his “anti-gay” statement:
“As an organization we can operate on biblical principles. So that is what we claim to be. [We are] based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have. And He has blessed us."
“We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
"We operate as a family business ... our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that...
"We intend to stay the course...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 principles."
In another interview Cathy said that he was praying for “God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
Some may argue that Cathy’s statements sound more “pro-tradition” than they do flat out “anti-gay.” Nonetheless that hasn’t stopped liberal and pro-gay media outlets and supporters from taking a bite out of it. Making themselves seem hungry for headlines, much like our friend Randy is for a chicken sandwich combo.
Since Cathy’s statements hit the web, supports of marriage equality have pledged to boycott until Chick-Fil-A retracts their statements. Taking it one step further, the Jim Henson company has pulled out of their partnership with the company. Henson's company made Muppets toys for Chic-Fil-A’s Kid’s Meals. Mayors and leaders in Boston and Chicago have made it known that Chic-Fil-A franchises are no longer welcome in their cities.
Protesters have even launched BoycottChickFila.com.
Not to be left out, Republican and blatantly anti-gay Republicans are joining in this game of chicken. Former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee showed his support by declaring August 1st “National Chic-Fil-A Day,” encouraging anybody and everybody who is against gay marriage to go buy something at Chic-Fil-A.
Former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum added grease to the frying pan when he tweeted that Chic-Fil-A’s food is “awesome” that he will be going there on the first of the month.
In a classic game of 1-up, a gay rights group has asked that people celebrate "National Same Sex Kiss Day" on August 3, preferably in front of or inside your nearest Chic-Fil-A.
To be clear, Cathy is a CEO who just so happened to speak about his values to a Christian newspaper. There's no telling what the CEOs of Zaxby's, Popeye's, Church's or KFC thinks about gay marriage. And the public is unlikely to find out, as their food has nothing to do with their religious beliefs.
In an NBC News poll, taken after President Obama said he supports gay marriage, 62 percent of the people surveyed said they don't care and his stance wouldn't effect their vote. If the same translates to fast food consumers, it's sfae to assume few Americans are concerned with Cathy's stance on marriage equality.
With everybody but Cathy having something to say on the matter now, most people don't even know what the fuss is about now. Are you anti-gay if you continue eating Chic-Fil-A sandwiches? Are you pro-gay marriage if you don't? What about the people who have never even eaten Chic-Fil-A? Are they automatically pro-marriage equality, since they've yet to taste the glory of Chic-Fil-A's lemonade?
So far, there’s no clear indication if any of this back and forth has had any effect on Chic-Fil-A’s business.
“Nope, people are still coming here everyday,” says a cashier who works at an Atlanta-area Chic-Fil-A, who asked that her name be withheld. “I don’t think that many people care or even heard about any of this stuff yet.”
If you want any proof, check out this photo of a packed out Chic-Fil-A on Atlanta’s West Side during lunch time. It’s hard to tell, but the parking lot is packed and the drive-thru traffic is one car away from being in the street.
Perhaps everybody is “anti-gay,” or just hungry.