EDITORIAL: It's time to eat more chicken
Heather Brown, The Oklahoma Daily
Background: The company donated more than $3 million to anti-gay groups, such as Exodus International and the Family Research Council. These groups depict GLBTQ Americans as pedophiles, argue they should be “deported” and promote dangerous “ex-gay” therapy.
A years-long boycott began. In July, CEO Dan Cathy’s remarks against gay marriage brought mainstream attention to the boycott. In response, supporters flooded branches for an “Appreciation Day.”
What’s new: The Civil Rights Agenda, an advocacy group, said Wednesday that Chick-fil-A agreed to stop donations to political groups. Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, who had been blocking the company from building a new location in his district, said he has reversed his stance due to this decision.
Though Chick-fil-A has not issued an official response to the news, it did not deny its agreement with Moreno when asked.
Our View: Chick-fil-A’s flip on hate group support means it’s time to end the boycott, but that doesn’t mean supporters lost this fight.
Good news: It’s time for a chicken sandwich. After years of boycotting — and a few intense months of kiss-ins, Facebook rants and public criticism — Chick-fil-A has agreed to stop funding anti-GLBTQ hate groups.
There are many reasons why both supporters of Chick-fil-A and pro-GLBTQ boycotters might be skeptical of this news, but both have reason to celebrate the end of this stand-off.
To those who supported Chick-fil-A’s stance:
It’s understandable if you’re feeling frustrated or disappointed, but don’t be too quick to turn your back on this company.
Its decision to stop donating to these groups does not mean it is abandoning its views. It doesn’t mean its leaders are embracing gay marriage or turning their back on their religious beliefs. It just means they have stepped back from the political sphere to focus on the business and its charitable giving. Those charitable organizations could use the money more effectively.
Of course, this decision may be a reaction to public pressure. But we can only hope it was motivated by executives’ realization that, regardless of your political beliefs, spreading hate is not a Christian value — and certainly not an American one.
We hope they realized you can be against gay marriage and disagree with homosexuality and still recognize and respect the humanity of those who disagree with you. You don’t have to use hate or divisive, dangerous and deceitful rhetoric to make your point, as these organizations do.
So you can support Chick-fil-A’s business model and its right to express political opinions freely. (We do.) You can cheer Cathy’s stance on gay marriage and the company’s commitment to its values. And you can still celebrate the decision to, as the company’s letter about the change stated, “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect” and stop funding groups that preach the opposite.
To the boycotters:
We understand this decision may feel like too little, too late. Motivated as it is by profit, it hardly seems to signal a genuine shift in company attitudes. But you still have cause to celebrate.
The boycott worked.
Yes, many other factors contributed to this decision: pressure from public officials, media coverage and possible profit loss from cities blocking new franchises. But behind all of those factors were the voices of regular citizens expressing their distaste for the hateful groups this company supported with customers’ dollars.
Your voices have been heard. Isn’t that always worth celebrating?
But a boycott is only a public win if it ends when the objective has been accomplished. If this turns into just one more complicated battle site in the “culture wars,” the power of this victory will be lost.
It may be tempting to continue to speak out against the company. It’s certainly understandable that the hurt and distrust will not fade overnight, especially if the company is unwilling to even publically acknowledge the change.
But this company’s leaders responded to people’s concern and found a way to balance their religious and political beliefs with the need to treat their fellow humans with respect. They recognized the harm they were doing and stopped their donations, even after the hugely successful “Appreciation Day” made it clear most of their customer base supported them.
If you want this kind of behavior to continue, if you want other organizations to follow suit, the best thing you can do is give Chick-fil-A your support — and your business.
This goes beyond Chick-fil-A and its donations. This situation has revealed the power of citizens’ voices to fight for justice and equality.
Wherever you stand on the issues, whichever side you were on when the battle lines were drawn, Chick-fil-A’s decision marks a victory in the fight to elevate our political dialogue above deceit and vitriol. So go support the wisdom of this choice by enjoying some delicious chicken — now hate-free.