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Chick-fil-A Backlash: The Most Important Time in Same-Sex Marriage Movement

August 2, 2012

(I want to discuss something that is not exclusively a women’s issue but nonetheless important to our hearts here at The Struggling Feminist.  That is same-sex marriage rights.  We strongly oppose homophobia as it relates to the dominance of hyper-masculinity and also just because it’s hateful.  However, as believers in change, we are moved to write about the same-sex marriage movement as a whole and more importantly how sometimes each decision we make can make a difference or keep the status quo)

When Boston Mayor Tom Menino issued a letter urging Chick-fil-A to rethink any Boston locations because of anti-same-sex marriage comments made by its COO, supporters of gay marriage cheered.  A week later, patrons loyal to the chicken chain packed parking lots across the country.  Their issue: that a company could be persecuted for the beliefs of an individual.

Boston.com gathered quotations such as:

“’I’ve never been to Chick-fil-A until today. I’m supporting free enterprise.”

or

‘Cathy is simply making a statement on the definition of marriage.’ “

But wait:

Let’s start by ruling out the free speech problem. Mayor Menino can legally criticize Dan Cathy just as Cathy can criticize same-sex marriage.  Menino didn’t order any ordinances or literally stop Chick-fil-A stores from opening in Boston.  So essentially, Cathy and Menino both exercised the same American freedom.

In all fairness, the backlash is just as constitutional as the mayor’s comments.  There exists a loop of constitutional criticism, never-ending comments much like a celebrity feud or partisan politics.  A legal “he said she said”.. But I think, more importantly, this situation stands for an important time in the gay rights movement.

When Menino denies real estate licenses or throws bricks through Chick-fil-A windows please feel free to get back to us… until THEN this is not a freedom of speech issue at all.

NO, this is a call to all U.S. citizens to make up their mind on what side they’re on regarding same-sex marriage.

If anti-gay marriage activists are upset it is because for the first time, pro-gay marriage views are having a real economic impact.

It is the first major case in which same-sex marriage was treated similarly to other poisonous corporate decisions like child-workers, arsenic, or harmful hormones.  For the first time, a trusted figure of a major city condemned anti-gay marriage views as if the company had committed an atrocity.

For those of us who want to see equal rights for same-sex couples, treating anti-gay views like an atrocity is an undeniable victory.  Why? Because to get any thing done, Americans must have real conversations about what they believe, even if it means publically.

For instance, this Chick-fil-A owner from New Hampshire publically stated, despite his COO’s personal opinions, that he would publically support the pride parade he’s been supporting for years.

We can trace this need for a public discourse back to another human rights movement.  At one point in history storeowners had the right to refuse service to black Americans.  Now, that is illegal.  Storeowners and policy makers literally had to ask themselves this yes or no question:

Am I for or against racial segregation?

This same condition must exist again for the gay rights movement to push forward.  If we eliminate the petty first-amendment-violation argument- which simply doesn’t hold up anyway—then the time has come to take your side on gay marriage.  Does the pressure scare you? I would bet it scared race equality activists too, but at some point people had to stop dancing around their beliefs with cop-out quasi opinions.   Will it cause some division? Of course.  Will everyone agree with you? Not a chance.

Still, when the lines are drawn, we must ask ourselves a very simple (non-deep fried) question…

Am I for or against same-sex marriage?

Peace and Love,

M

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