Campaign against Chick-fil-A doesn't fly

Commentary: There is no evidence that the company has discriminated against gays.

By Jonathan Berr Jul 26, 2012 3:46PM

Chick-fil-A's views on gay marriage are neither new nor surprising, and the rush to vilify the chicken restaurant chain has got one serious flaw: There is no evidence that the company has ever mistreated lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender employees or customers.


That's the view of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LBGT civil-rights organization, and the NOH8 Campaign, which is organizing a boycott of the Atlanta company because its charitable arm "contributes to organizations directly working to defeat marriage equality and even groups attempting to convert gay people to heterosexual lifestyles." The chain, however, may not be the first choice for LBGT members to dine or work.
 
"What I can tell you is that, by all accounts, Chick-fil-A is not a work environment that would be welcoming to LGBT people; or respect their need to provide for their families," HRC spokesman Dan Rafter told MSN in an email.
 
Chick-fil-A has earned the ire of the liberal blogosphere after President Dan Cathy was quoted in a newspaper affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention that he was "guilty as charged" for supporting "the biblical definition of the family." Though Cathy didn't elaborate what he meant, the Family Research Council, another opponent of gay rights, bluntly points out on its website that "The Bible defines 'family' in a narrow sense as the union of one man and one woman in matrimony which is normally blessed with one or several natural or adopted children."
 
The critics who are surprised by Cathy's comments haven't been paying attention to the company his father founded more than 40 years ago. The company openly speaks of bringing "glory to God" and famously shuts its more than 1,600 locations on Sundays because the company believes it helps attract employees who want to be part of an organization with a "values-based vision."  Chick-fil-A hands out children's books with biblical themes and features stories of heterosexual couples who met at the chain on its website, including one woman who said "thanks Mr. Cathy for following God because who knows, without Chick-fil-A, how would I have met my husband?"
 
Though Cathy's views on gays contradict the views of many Americans, they are not unique. About 50% of Americans are against same-sex marriage, according to Gallup. Cathy has every right to make them in a free society, just as Kraft, Walt Disney and countless other companies have the right to express views favoring the LBGT community. A company statement indicated that the company does not discriminate and there is no reason to suggest that it does. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino's vow to keep Chick-fil-A out of the city because of its anti-gay views is ludicrous. Other critics, including TV actor Ed Helms and the Jim Henson Co. are painting the Chick-fil-A with too broad a brush.
 
Take its charitable work. On its website, NOH8 notes that Chick-fil-A gave $1.7 million to anti-gay groups in 2009 through its WinShape Foundation.  The fight against gay marriage is clearly not a huge priority givem WinShape has more than $60 million in assets, according to WinShape's latest 990 form filed with the IRS. Besides, Forbes estimates that Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy's fortune at $1.3 billion.  If the Cathy family really wanted to wage a huge public fight against gay marriage, it could easily afford it. As Jonathan Merritt recently wrote in The Atlantic, the chain does quote a bit of good including giving free meals to police officers in Aurora, Colo., site of the recent mass murder at a movie theater. "It funds a large foster care program, several schools of a higher learning, and a children's camp. It has provided thousands of scholarships for Chick-fil-A employees to attend college and grow past the service sector where they got their workplace start," he writes.

Judging businesses on their politics is a tricky business.
 
For instance, should liberals not watch "The Simpsons" because the Fox TV network is part of the same corporate parent, News Corp., that owns the hyper-conservative Fox News Channel? Maybe conservatives shouldn't use Google since the search engine giant's top managers favor Democrats. By that logic, they ought to ignore the views of Obama supporter Warren Buffett. When gassing up your car is it better to go with global warming critics Exxon Mobil or Citgo, which answers to Venezuelan strongman and sworn enemy of the U.S. Hugo Chavez?  Looking for furniture? Forget Ikea, whose founder Ingvar Kamprad was "active recruiter" for a pro-Nazi group in Sweden.
 
If consumers subject businesses to political litmus tests, the question arises of where it starts and where it stops.  If consumers care that Chick-fil-A doesn't support gay rights, should they ask about the views of their accountants or dry cleaners? Most consumers have neither the time nor the energy to subject the businesses they patronize to ideological litmus tests.

Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter@jdberr.
45Comments
Aug 2, 2012 5:42PM
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Anything to divert the attention away from Obama and Mitt, is fair play.

 

How about some pet food company refusing to sell to gay cats or dogs next week? that should work.

Aug 2, 2012 5:07PM
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Let's keep the two topics clear:

1. A customer boycott of Chick-fil-A.

2. A politician withholding permits for Chick-fil-A.

 

There is nothing wrong with a boycott.  Shop anywhere you want and don't shop anywhere you don't.

 

Discriminating permits based on the beliefs of a company's owner is evil and illegal.

 

I mildly disagree with Cathy's stand on non-heterosexual marriage, but I'm outraged by public officials using the government to harass an organization based on a disagreement with the opinion of someone in that corporation.  Because of the latter, I had my first meal at Chick-fil-A last night.

 

 

Aug 2, 2012 11:04AM
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"If consumers care that Chick-fil-A doesn't support gay rights, should they ask about the views of their accountants or dry cleaners?"  Most accountants, dry cleaners, etc. would be smart enough to keep their personal views about such things to themselves, negating the need for a consumer to have that knowledge.
Aug 1, 2012 9:53PM
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I like how gays hate to be judged yet judge those with different beliefs. Who cares if chick fil' a doesnt agree with same sex marriage. They can believe in whatever they want. Not everyone is for gay marriage and not everyone is against gay marriage. Thats just the way it is. Gays rage when people try and shove their conservative beliefs down their throats yet they do the exact same thing by telling people they're wrong and have no place here. Well gays. Last time I checked... this was the United States of America. Meaning... we dont have to support gay marriage if we dont want to. We can have moral values and be conservatives. Deal with it. Kthnxbi! <3
Aug 1, 2012 4:37PM
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While I respect the right of same sex couples to live in any envirionment they might choose, they should realize that choosing an alternative lifestyle relinquishes the "right" to what we call a traditional marriage; that between one man and one woman.  They can consider themselves married and should be able to divvy up assets equitable to couples that are traditionally married.  When you opt to live outside mainstream, you should realize that there are things that you are going to relinquish.  Hell, I wish there weren't any rules at all that we should be required to live by, but that isn't the reality of the situation.  We can't pick and choose.  That's my opinion and I don't care that there are people who disagree with me.
Aug 1, 2012 3:54PM
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Don't piss off a homo!  You might get glitterbombed!!!

 

Or worse,  they might tell you that you shoes don't match the rest of your outfit! 

Aug 1, 2012 12:36PM
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Seems to me that liberals in general tend to be all in favor of freedom of choice and speech as long as the choice/speech agrees with them, but as soon as someone voices a different opinion, they want to shut them up and put them out of business.

Freedom isn't a part-time thing.

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No self respecting GLBT person would ever be caught dead in a chick fil A! With that said, just as the CEO has a right to express his biogtry so too does the consumer have a right to boycot his crappy restaurants- the poster said it below, you can't have it both ways. In the interest of business mixing it up with religion, perhaps Mr. Chick fil A missed the part about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven...or even better judge lest ye be judged- These so called christians who approach religion from a  cafteria style perpective...picking & choosing which beliefs they can adhere to make me sick- seeing it in the business sector, makes me laugh- I hope chick fil a feels the fire from smart consumers, gay or straight who smell not chicken, but a rat!
Aug 1, 2012 6:09AM
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What I don't understand is why businesses/companies are even venturing into this debate. Just take care of your  business. 

Jul 30, 2012 9:59PM
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Just thought i would post this about Chick-Fil-A .Next time someone tells you that boycotting them is wrong

You argue that Freedom of Speech is involved and it is! People have the right to say "don't patronize that business because it advocates discrimination."

You argue that Religious Freedom is involved and it is! It's a suppression of Religious Freedom. Why? Because there are Christian churches that would perform same-sex marriages except that they are not legally allowed to under their state's laws. They are being prohibited by the state that seems to favor one type of Christianity over another EVEN if the are the same sect.

In 2009 alone Chick-Fil-A (as a corporation) donated $2,000,000 to anti-gay marriage groups. In spite of the Citizens United case, corporations do not worship at churches. This was direct corporate sponsorships to religion based organizations to advocate for "legal inequality under the law" and suppression of Religious Freedom of a selected group of individuals.

This is also about the separation of Church and State. No one religion or "favored sect" has the legal standing or right to decide what secular laws are. The United States does not operate under Sharia Law. Nor will it operate under exclusively strict Jewish, nor Buddhist, nor Hindi, nor Christian laws.

Since this is a situation where folks are speaking out about protecting the civil rights of individuals, your point about this being a "Socialist path" is clearly mistaken. Further you are mistaken in the assumption that this is an effort to silence people. Rather, it's an effort to hold corporations accountable for what they advocate.

Let me ask you this if Corporations are people too, should they not be treated just like one?. If i went on the news and said i was throwing my money and what power i have behind a group that hates and wants to keep rights away from other good Americans from having the SAME rights as others i would be hated and protested against. So all we are really doing is treating a Corporation just like we would a person. Remember what those on the right love to say " Corporations are people too " . They can't have it both ways

Also, it's NOT hate based politics when you argue for inclusion. Hate based is when you argue to exclude
Nuff said!!!! Game,set,and match !!! Please pass this post on and repost it
Jul 30, 2012 8:19PM
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Fatty, starchy bland food.   Why would anyone subject their stomach to it?
Jul 30, 2012 8:01PM
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We are all entitled to our beliefs. However, I don't think that necessarily has anything to do with either shopping or avoiding a business . I was once going to very self-righteously boycott some place or other, and a person much wiser than I told me that to boycott it did not hurt the owner/executives at all, but if business dropped off considerably it meant lower paid employees losing their jobs. And what does that accomplish? So now I just go on about shopping, etc. where I've done it all along.
Jul 30, 2012 3:09PM
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Honestly I think EVERYONE is missing the bigger question. Why is the government involved in marriage to begin with? Everyday the government gets more involved with our day-to-day lives. It is an ever evolving process that I guess has been slow enough for most to miss. The government can now force us to buy health insurance. Heck you have politicians out there right now trying to control how much soda you drink and that same guy now wants to make new moms jump through hoops to get baby formula in hospitals. I'm not saying there aren't benefits to everyone having health insurance and no drinking a lot of soda and moms breastfeeding and there might be moral benefits to being against gay marriage if you so believe but the perceived benefits do not out weigh the cost of the government restricting free people. We need a complete reset. This was not what our founding fathers had in mind. There is no reason the government should be controlling every aspect of our lives. It is about time we tell the government to back off and get out of our business. As long as I am not hurting your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the government shouldn't be controlling me.
Jul 30, 2012 2:54PM
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What is worse is how politicians are threatening Chick-fil-A. A politician does not have the right to stop a restaurant because they disagree with the owners' political view. And if you support those idiot politicians, be prepared when someone on the other side of the isle is elected and stops a company from opening. Can you imagine what the Liberals would be doing right now if a politician come out and said they wouldn't allow any pro-gay restaurants to open in "their" cities??? Yet somehow they justify the reverse discrimination. It is called an opinion and Freedom of Speech. Get over it. I don't like everything I hear but such is life in a FREE COUNTRY.

Jul 29, 2012 7:14PM
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KKK and "Rev" Fred Phelps also enjoy freedom of speach, and people have the right to support them.

 

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I love me some Chik Fil A. Even more now.

When will people stop classification and just see us all as Americans in this country? LGBT? NAACP? La Raza?

Why can't we just stop divisiveness, and be one people?

Remember the melting pot our coutry once was?

People came to America to be an American. They never came here and wanted America to be Ireland, or Italy, or France. People came here to be American.

Jul 28, 2012 9:40PM
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They use too much salt.  There salad's are to little.  There too expensive for what you get.

 

Go to the company with Boston in its name they serve chicken too.  Company with Boston in your name make better Lemonade...like the company mentioned in this article.

Jul 27, 2012 6:41PM
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I'm thankful for this article.  This whole thing bothers me.  In our society, aparently the only people or companies it's 'policically correct' to discriminate against are the Christian ones.   Chick fil and Truitt Cathy deserve the same rights as the GLBT supporters.  Chick fil a strives to provide a superior product and great customer service, in which they've succeeded.  They have NEVER discriminated against GLBTs (ie, refusing to serve, making malicious statements, etc); Mr. Cathy believes the bible's guidelines for a marriage and he upholds his values.  This has been misconstrued by the media to make the general public think otherwise.  HORSE HOCKEY!  Long live Chick fil a!! 
Jul 27, 2012 5:39PM
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I'm proud to work for a company that has only strived to give the best service to every customer no matter what their sexual-orientation may be. The chick-fil-a restaurant I work for has operated for 7 years in a very liberal area and none of our loyal customers have ever complained about our business practices.

We've hired plenty of homosexuals who have felt comfortable with letting us in to their personal lives (I know, because I am heavily involved in our employees as the HR Director) and have never experienced any kind of discrimination from co-workers. Perhaps HTC spokesman, Dan Rafter should conduct a little more research before assuming that not supporting gay-marriage can easily be deduced as a hostile work environment for all existing homosexuals. Talk about being close-minded. We wouldn't boast about giving top-rated service and then turn around and harass a select group of people.

Jul 27, 2012 5:17PM
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The AFA and other Religious Right activists boycott companies for things as silly as their X-mas marketing campaigns and names of ice cream flavors. Now it's crossing the line when Chic-Fil-A is boycotted when their direct financial contributions are questioned? Give me a break.
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