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Jul 19 2012

Chikin With a Side of Homophobia: Why You Should Boycott Chick-Fil-A

The president of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, recently confirmed what most of us have known for a while–the company is virulently homophobic.

I mean, he didn’t come right out and say, “We’re a homophobic company.” But he did say, “Well, guilty as charged” when asked about Chick-Fil-A’s position on LGBT rights. He went on:

“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 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.”

There are several interesting things about this statement. First of all, Cathy claims to support “the biblical definition of the family unit.” The Religious Right seems to believe that the Bible defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. But in fact, as this graphic humorously points out, there are various other configurations that the Bible deems acceptable, such as men having multiple wives or keeping concubines in addition to their wives. In addition, rape victims and female prisoners of war can be required to marry their rapists/captors, and a childless widow is required to marry her late husband’s brother.

So if we’re going to support “the biblical definition of the family unit” in this country, why aren’t we going all-out?

Second, Cathy proclaims that “we are married to our first wives.” Does the company discriminate against divorcees in hiring decisions? What would happen to an employee who decides to get a divorce? Is Cathy aware that divorce is a legal, accepted facet of American culture? On that last question, apparently not.

Third, Cathy seems to at least recognize that his position will draw a lot of ire when he says that “it might not be popular with everyone.” But I despise the use of the word “popular” in this context. Denying rights to people on the basis of their sexual orientation–which is what the organizations to which Chick-Fil-A donates promote, as I’ll discuss later–isn’t merely “unpopular.” It’s, you know, discriminatory. Unpopular is tie-dye and ponchos. Unpopular is crappy 70s music. When people like Cathy claim that they’re doing something “unpopular,” they make it sound like they’re bravely going against the grain, flaunting their nonconformity, in order to…deny rights to people on the basis of their sexual orientation. Edgy.

Finally, it is interesting to note that, up until now, Chick-Fil-A has denied its anti-gay position. As I’m about to show, these were just blatant lies, which ought to make you even angrier. If you’re going to be a homophobe, at the very least own it. And then, you know, change.

Now, as for Chick-Fil-A’s actual anti-gay advocacy, the facts are quite condemning. In 2009, WinShape, the charitable arm of the company, donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay groups like Marriage & Family Legal Fund (started by Chick-Fil-A senior VP Donald Cathy), Focus on the Family, and Eagle Forum.

In case you need any convincing that these are really terrible organizations, I will provide some evidence. The founder of Focus on the Family, James Dobson, supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, which, had it passed, would have made same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Besides its stance against LGBT rights, Focus on the Family also supports school prayer, corporal punishment, and creationism, and opposes abortion (duh). It also donates to the campaigns of anti-gay politicians, and it started a ministry called Love Won Out, which supports scientifically-discredited gay conversion therapy, and sold it to Exodus International, another one of Chick-Fil-A’s charity recipients.

Eagle Forum is a conservative interest group founded by noted anti-feminist and professional asshole Phyllis Schafly. Eagle Forum does way too much terrible creepy stuff for me to list here, but you can read all about it on the wiki page. Its (and Schafly’s) main claim to fame, though, is that they led the effort to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment. Although the ERA is mainly known as a women’s rights amendment, Schafly believed that it would pave the way for legalized same-sex marriage:

“ERA would make all federal and state laws sex neutral. If two men show up and say we want a marriage license and [the person] says ‘you’re both men, I’m not giving it to you,’ that would be discriminatory.”

So, two things are clear: Chick-Fil-A has given a LOT of money to these organizations (probably more in that single year than I will earn in a lifetime), and these organizations do plenty of tangible things that prevent LGBT rights from being fully realized in the United States. And not only gay rights, really–in virulently opposing abortion and supporting corporal punishment, for instance, these organizations also seek to infringe upon the rights of women and children. Actually, given their anti-divorce claptrap, they’ve managed to do the impossible and infringe upon the rights of straight white men, too. They’re equal-opportunity rights infringers!

All of this is why I think that you–yes, you–should never set foot in Chick-Fil-A again.

Now, I’m generally quite skeptical about boycotts. Unless it’s very well-organized and happens on a large scale (see: Montgomery Bus Boycott), it’s unlikely to work. One individual withdrawing their business from a company won’t make it improve its labor practices, stop stocking an offensive product, and so on.

Indeed, if we boycotted every company that does shitty things, we’d probably have to live off the grid. I buy Apple and Coca-Cola products even though I have much to criticize them for, because honestly, refusing to buy them wouldn’t do anything, and you have to pick your battles.

However, with Chick-Fil-A we have a very different situation. This is a company that gives large sums of money–money provided to it by consumers–to organizations that actively work to oppose social justice, full stop. So when you give money to Chick-Fil-A, you can be certain beyond a doubt that some of that money is going to these organizations. Collectively, we as a nation helped Chick-Fil-A send nearly $2 million to these organizations in a single year. If you support equality, you should not be okay with that.

I haven’t eaten at Chick-Fil-A in years. In high school, I wasn’t old enough to care about things like this, and besides–embarrassingly enough–my high school band had a monthly fundraiser night there. As I was raising money for my own band, I was also raising money for wingnut politicians’ campaigns and for harmful conversion therapy.

I don’t miss eating there. The food was pretty good, but the knowledge that not a cent of those two million dollars came from me is better.

P.S. If you need any more incentive to ditch Chick-Fil-A for good, I present you with this:

*Edit* This is just too good not to link to.

13 comments

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  1. 1
    Michael

    “the biblical definition of the family unit” In which children are the property of their fathers and women are the property of their husbands? In which children can be put to death at the leisure of their fathers? I say again, the Bible is not just factually incorrect, but also morally reprehensible.

    1. 1.1
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

      Well, as I said, they do support corporal punishment…

      1. 1.1.1
        Michael

        Oh, I know. I’m not calling you out, I’m shouting at Cathy by proxy (also corporal punishment can be explained away. infanticide and people as property: less so.)

        1. 1.1.1.1
          Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

          They can easily be explained. Cuz God.

          1. Michael

            Correction: Cannot be explained away without appeals to an imagined malefactor.

          2. Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

            ^that.

  2. 2
    Jody

    all i can say is thank Heavens there is at least a few good companies trying to run their lives with some moral compass…i stand and applaud them, if that puts me in the minority too, then so be it…tired of feeling intimidated by what society says we should “allow” and “tolerate”…we all are given a conscience with which to guide our lives…i don’t have any problem sleeping at night without the need of prescription remedies…that just comes from clean, upright living, whether that be Biblical or moral

    1. 2.1
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner

      Are you trolling? Please say you’re trolling.

    2. 2.2
      Michael

      What is it about Chick-Fil-A’s alleged “moral compass” that you think is admirable? What are the things that society pressures you to allow and tolerate that you think you should not?

  3. 3
    Eric

    I have to leave this here:

  4. 4
    Tammy Madden

    When group #1 boycotts group #2 for what group #1 perceives as “intolerence,” then group #1 has defeated it’s purpose and advocated exclusion rather than inclusion. It’s hypocrisy, it’s illogical.

    You make a nice, bias, emotionally-loaded, connotative-laced argument…but what you fail to consider is that perhaps it’s OK in America for people to have different beliefs. Simply because one doesn’t support “gay marriage” doesn’t mean their homophobic, anti-gay, or anything of the sort. I personally don’t care who get married to whom…but I also stand for Mr. Cathy’s rights to believe what he wants…when we begin to take away free speech…and begin to espouse “thought crimes” we are on a very slippery slope…who’s right to speak and think goes next?

    And, no, I’m not trolling…I’m a blogger like you…and very concerned with personal freedoms…

    1. 4.1
      Miri, Professional Fun-Ruiner


      When group #1 boycotts group #2 for what group #1 perceives as “intolerence,” then group #1 has defeated it’s purpose and advocated exclusion rather than inclusion. It’s hypocrisy, it’s illogical.

      First of all, what you just said makes no sense. Second, all opinions are not equal. If my opinion is “Everyone should have the right to marry who they want” and your opinion is “Only the people I approve of should have the right to marry,” those opinions are not equivalent. Because your opinion denies freedom to other people, whereas mine extends freedom to other people. There is no equivalency between these views. So yes, it is absolutely possible for me to say that your view is wrong without any hypocrisy whatsoever.


      You make a nice, bias, emotionally-loaded, connotative-laced argument

      Actually, I presented a bunch of facts that explained where Chick-Fil-A sends its money, explained how those things are harmful to LGBT folks, and then suggested that people shouldn’t give money to these things. The only “bias” I have is that denying LGBT people their rights is wrong. But nice try attempting to delegitimize my argument because it’s “emotional.”


      but what you fail to consider is that perhaps it’s OK in America for people to have different beliefs.

      Again, nice condescension there. I agree that it’s OK in America for people to have different beliefs. It’s legal to hate gay people. It’s not legal–or, shouldn’t be–to deny them their own legal rights, though.


      Simply because one doesn’t support “gay marriage” doesn’t mean their homophobic, anti-gay, or anything of the sort.

      Actually, that’s exactly what it means. Sorry. But there has never been a rational, legitimate argument for denying same-sex couples what opposite-sex couples have. None. I challenge you to produce one that doesn’t require the assumption that homosexuality is somehow “wrong.”


      when we begin to take away free speech…and begin to espouse “thought crimes” we are on a very slippery slope…who’s right to speak and think goes next?

      Oh, this again. Please tell me who is taking away your free speech. Please tell me who is controlling your thoughts. Name the House or Senate bill that is doing that. Because, guess what. The first amendment only applies to the government.

      I absolutely don’t care what you think. As in, I don’t care what your thoughts are about gay people. I only care what you do with those thoughts. If what you do with those thoughts is deny gay people the rights they deserve, then what you are doing is not “free speech.” It is, well, denying people their rights.

    2. 4.2
      Michael

      “When group #1 boycotts group #2 for what group #1 perceives as “intolerence,” then group #1 has defeated it’s purpose and advocated exclusion rather than inclusion. It’s hypocrisy, it’s illogical.”

      I disagree. The problem is not exclusion, discrimination, or intolerance taken pure, but rather the way in which those things are being applied. Miriam, myself, and the rest of those in the “boycott Chick-Fil-A” camp are opposed to the exclusion, discrimination, and intolerance of LGBTQ persons, because we see no reason to be discriminatory, exclusionary, or intolerant towards LGBTQ persons, and we (at least some of us) are concerned about the implications of Cathy’s statements, that being that superstition, from a source that encourages brutal violence in response to alleged “offenses” that we find just as harmless and innocuous as being queer, takes precedence in Cathy’s mind, and, based on his statements and the activity of the company’s philanthropic arm, in the upper management of Chick-Fil-A over the mental, emotional, financial, and, in extreme cases, physical well-being of fellow citizens. Attempting to quarantine and blockade the sources of corrosive and toxic social stances is not the ethical equivalent of proclaiming, and working toward the codification of, those same corrosive and toxic social stances.

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