Another provocative post from Ed this morning on, of all things, Chick-fil-A. Just to refresh your memory: Dan Cathy, the popular fast-food chain's president and a Southern Baptist, recently reiterated his strong support for the "biblical definition of family" and warned that Americans are inviting "God's judgment" — presumably unfavorable — for our nation's "prideful, arrogant" attitude toward gay marriage. This set off a little skirmish in our nation's long cultural war, with scenes Tom Wolfe would have captured well.
Thousands showed up in Mr. Cathy's Bible-Belt restaurants to affirm their support for his values and get some good chicken. On the other side, a very few gay activists answered the call to make out with their partners in protest outside a Chick-fil-A restaurant. Politically, I think this shows us what we already knew: There are a lot of Americans in certain parts of the country who are deeply offended by what they view as an assault on their values, marriage being among the most sacred. And there are many other Americans who feel very strongly in favor of gay marriage, although perhaps not strongly enough to go and kiss their partner in front of a fast-food restaurant. Finally, there is the vast middle of America, who doesn't want this kind of thing messing up their decision on which fast-food chain to visit.
The more interesting story about the Chick-fil-A controversy isn't the political angle; it's the business one. My guess is supporters of gay marriage like Chick-fil-A as much as supporters of traditional marriage do. From Alabaster, Ala., to the campus of New York University, Americans are ordering Chick-fil-A to the "cha-ching" of $4 billion a year. Nobody wants politics messing that up. Ask Bill Marriott, a devout Mormon whose hotel chain makes hundreds of millions of dollars each year on liquor sales.
Interestingly, Marriott did decide to drop adult movies from his hotels after the chain, along with a then-board member, one Mitt Romney, was criticized by pro-family groups for selling smut. But the mass market, free market, which so many love, thrives on keeping its politics and religion out of its business.