Chick-fil-A has been in a nest of trouble ever since its president and CEO Dan Cathy said in an interview with Baptist Press, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit.” He said a lot more after that. But this came after it was revealed that the Atlanta-based company has donated millions to anti-gay causes. Elected officials across the country are withdrawing the welcome mat from their cities. And there have been calls for boycotts. So, Mike Huckabee declared Aug.1 “Chick fil-A Appreciation Day.”
The former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate turned money-making radio host explained why he did so on the Tom Joyner Morning Show during an interview with Roland Martin this morning. And, I have to say, I agree with him — almost.
Right out of the gate, Huckabee corrected Martin’s assertion that tomorrow’s action was about expressing support for Cathy’s anti-marriage-equality stance. “It’s really not about just even saying you support the position of Chick-fil-A’s president,” he said. “It’s about supporting the idea that a person who runs a company has a right to free speech, has not been disenfranchised from his First Amendment rights because he runs a company anymore than Ben and Jerry’s should be disenfranchised from their views or Jeff Bezos of Amazon or Howard Schultz of Starbucks.”All three favor same-sex marriage. Huckabee would later add, “How would it go over if the mayor of Dallas said that Starbucks wasn’t welcome” because of the views of its CEO?
We all know the answer to that rhetorical question. All hell would break loose. And rightly so. What that fictitious mayor would have done would have been backward, supportive of discrimination and wrong. But I part company with Huckabee over something else he said.
This is about whether or not people ought to take action as was being taken against Chick-fil-A ... because they disagreed with the personal views of a person of the company. Nobody has alleged that Chick-fil-A has discriminated against its customers or employees. That would be something to truly protest.
Now we get to why there is such outrage at Chick-fil-A. Two weeks before Cathy did that Baptist Press interview, Equality Matters revealed that the company’s charity, The WinShape Foundation, had donated nearly $5 million to anti-gay causes between 2003 and 2010. While the company welcomes all families to its fast-food outlets with open arms to “eat mor chikin,” behind the scenes it is actively working to deny fundamental rights to same-sex families who want nothing more than to share fully in the American dream. In short, Cathy has been putting his money where his mouth is.
The beauty of this country is that Cathy can say whatever he wants about whatever wants whenever he wants. But the beauty of this country also is the ability to make your displeasure known through protest. So, while I fully support Cathy’s exercise of his First Amendment rights, I also fully support those who neither like what he has to say nor what he’s doing to support groups that hurt them. After all, who would want to give someone else their own money and have that someone turn around and use it against them and the people they love.