Clucking and strutting over same-sex marriage

There are many iconic moments in the quest for social justice.

Who can ever forget that lone, brave dissenter standing before a tank in Tiananmen Square? Or the beleaguered Tunisian fruit seller, whose self-immolation gave birth to the Arab Spring? And can anyone deny the powerful civil rights message embodied by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s march to Selma?

Then there is the great chicken sandwich standoff. Inspiring is what it is, more or less. And if you truly love freedom and the Good Book, hold the coleslaw.

Who knows what it says about the state — and seriousness — of our national political discourse when to Chick-fil-A, or not to Chick-fil-A, suddenly becomes the touchstone of a debate over same-sex unions.

The great cutlet flap began when Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy went on a Christian radio station and decried growing public acceptance of gay marriage, noting the nation was inviting God's wrath by flouting the "biblical definition of the family unit."

Well.

Before you could say "Hold the lettuce, hold the pickle," gay activists started calling for a boycott of Chick-fil-A sandwiches, which, in the interest of full disclosure, are rather tasty. And in an equal display of support, pretty soon people who side with Cathy and believe that homosexuality is an abomination started lining up around the corner to order a chicken sandwich in the name of the Lord.

Now plans are afoot to have a mass same-sex "Kiss-In" at Chick-fil-As around the nation. One minute you're just trying to swing through the drive-through to get a milk shake and the next you find yourself in the middle of the Bravo channel.

Say, there's a profile in poultry for you.

Hallelujah! And pass the ketchup.

The fowl furor would seem just a bit misplaced and certainly late in coming. Cathy's deep and fundamentalist Christian beliefs are hardly a big secret. After all, this is a company that closes on Sundays rather risk the ire of the Almighty by selling a grilled nugget on the day of rest.

This wasn't as if the Seminole Indian Tribe had suddenly come out against the sinful wages of gambling.

It didn't take long for the pandering to begin. Soon the mayors of Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia were denouncing Cathy and his company as intolerant oafs, some even going so far as to hint they just might make doing business in their cities difficult, if not impossible.

It's one thing to take issue with Cathy and deny yourself the guilty pleasure of a heavenly breakfast biscuit, with the delicious addition of bacon, eggs and cheese, which practically melts in your mouth. Sorry, didn't mean to get liturgically carried away there.

But it is quite another — and dangerous — matter for elected officials to threaten to undermine Chick-fil-A's business simply because they object to Dan Cathy's First Amendment right to speak his mind on a topic of some controversy in society. That's nothing more than extortion by building permit.

This could get ridiculous. It is true that Cathy invited the barrage of unwanted publicity upon himself by forgetting he is supposed to be in the fast-food business, rather than the Elmer Gantry of chicken sliders.

But do we really want to start favoring businesses, or conversely denying patronage, on the basis of the political or social beliefs of the proprietor?

Does everything have to be a politically correct litmus test?

Before we patronize a business, do owners have to complete a questionnaire on where they stand on gun control, abortion, global warming, Barack Obama's birth certificate, gay marriage, offshore oil drilling and Madonna or Lady Gaga?

The issue of same-sex unions is one of the great polarizing issues shaping the national political dialogue. It deserves a more literate conversation than getting all lathered up over using a chicken sandwich as the standard by which one's support, or opposition, is measured.

To be sure, Cathy presents a bit of a quandary. He's more than entitled to his position on same-sex unions, even though I think he's full of beans— or perhaps guacamole.

But if I was traveling and had a hankering for a Chick-fil-A sandwich, would I buy one? Absolutely. But maybe for the sake of my liberal penance, I would watch Milk again — with some waffle fries.

Seems fair enough.

Clucking and strutting over same-sex marriage 08/02/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 2, 2012 6:13pm]

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