The growing debate about whether Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy overstepped the line when he openly spoke of his support for marriage in the biblical sense has once again divided the country on the issue of gay marriage.
Gay rights advocates are calling for a ban on Chick-fil-A and some government officials are backing them up. Two mayors, Rham Emanual in Chicago and Thomas Menino in Boston, have pledged to keep Chick-fil-A out of their cities. In a Time Magazine article, it is reported that there is no report or evidence that the restaurant chain discriminates against gay or lesbian customers or employees. The argument is strictly over Cathy’s statement in support of the biblical definition of the family unit.
“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,” he is quoted as saying in an interview.
A recent story in Online Athens quoted Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign that works for same-sex-marriage, as saying that Chick-fil-A "has finally come clean" after cloaking its positions for years.
"While they may have been in neutral, kicking this fight into overdrive now allows fair-minded consumers to make up their own minds whether they want to support an openly discriminatory company," Griffin said in a statement. "As the country moves toward inclusion, Chick-fil-A has staked out a decidedly stuck-in-the-past mentality."
The same story quotes from a released statement from Chick-fil-A corporate, headquartered in Atlanta, in which it points out that the company has a history of applying biblically-based principles to its business, such as keeping its stores closed on Sundays.
"The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender," according to the statement.
"Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena," it said.
The Time Magazine article reports Cathy doesn’t mention gay marriage or openly claim to be against it, just reinforces his support of what he refers to as “the biblical definition of the family unit.” But gay rights advocates say you can't be for one without obviously being against the other. Time magazine points out, however, that any action against the business by city officials in either Boston or Chicago is likely to violate the First Amendment right to free speech.
So do you think that this type of action against the restaurant chain is warranted because not matter what you call it, being in support of “biblical marriage” is just another way of saying you’re against gay marriage? Or is this a free speech issue and in particular nobody should face penalties by a government agency for speaking their mind?
This topic has been tackled by other Patch sites too: (Yes, there are a lot of us around).