Recently Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy made clear the company’s support of traditional marriage. “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy said in article published Monday by the Baptist Press. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
Cathy added that, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray 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.”
Not surprisingly in this case, public reaction to Cathy’s comments has been swift and from those both opposed to and supportive of the remarks. Opponents to Cathy’s remarks include Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee.
Menino wrote a 7/20 letter addressed to Cathy and Chick-fil-A’s Atlanta headquarters, part of which stated: “In recent days you said Chick-fil-A opposes same-sex marriage, and said the generation that supports it has an ‘arrogant attitude.’ Now – incredibly – your company says you are backing out of the same-sex marriage debate. I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston.”
The Jim Henson Company (creators of the Muppets) has also severed ties with Chick-fil-A. “We have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).”
Supporters of traditional marriage (e.g. former PA Senator Rick Santorum, former AR Governor Mike Huckabee) urged Americans to support Chick-fil-A. One surprising voice that opposes Mayors Menino, Emanuel, and Lee on this issue is NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “You can’t have a test for what the owners’ personal views are before you decide to give a permit to do something in the city,” Mr. Bloomberg said, citing concerns about censorship and freedom of speech. “You really don’t want to ask political beliefs or religious beliefs before you issue a permit. That’s just not government’s job.”
The flap created by Cathy’s comments boils down to free speech, tolerance and acceptance. When it comes to free speech or freedom of access, on this issue Bloomberg has it right. It’s not government’s job to block access to a person or business just because you oppose their views. When it comes to tolerance and acceptance of opposing views, those of us with opposing views need to be tolerant of those views. It does not mean, though, that we have to accept those views if it goes against what we believe.
The 1st Amendment gives us the freedom to publicly express our opinions, but it does not shelter us from reaction or consequences to those publicly expressed views. Anyone who feels strongly enough about their support of gay marriage will likely never go to Chick-fil-A, while those who favor traditional marriage and never went to Chick-fil-A before may go there now as a sign of support.