But if I want the diet lemonade as only Chick-fil-A can make it, I am going to Chick-fil-A to buy it. To avoid places where I am not warmly received would make me “happily invisible,” and allow them to easily ignore my existence. Many have sacrificed so I could have the freedom to spend my money where I choose. The sit-ins were not about what was on the menu, those protests were about the freedom to choose. I am not giving that right up because Mr. Cathy sits so easily and comfortably in judgment of others.
To the mayors of Chicago, Boston and San Francisco who are ready and willing to keep Chick-fil-A out of their cities, where does that line you are drawing end? What if the next Mayor decides to close down “gay-friendly” shops that welcome customers with their rainbow flags? New York’s Mayor Bloomberg believes it is “inappropriate for a city government or a state government or the federal government to look at somebody’s political views and decide whether or not they can live in the city, or operate a business in the city.” And while I wonder if Mayor Bloomberg would still welcome Chick-fil-A if the company sold 32-ounce sugary drinks, I agree with him on principle.
It might seem politically expedient to tweet #hatechicken as one Mayor did on Friday, however it would probably be more meaningful to constituents if those mayors attracted more businesses willing to bring jobs into their cities. Instead of closing the door on Chick-fil-A, perhaps a closer look at the demographics of those working behind the counter might be warranted.
If African-Americans are still the last hired and first fired, our unemployment numbers will not change. Mayors should be busily working to make sure that fair employment practices are actually being followed. Of course that might be more work than most of our elected officials want to handle. And why bother when tweeting requires so little thought and only 140 characters?
5. A Dangerous Game Of Chicken
The majority of Chick-fil-A’s 1,600 restaurants are located in the Bible Belt. I happen to like the fact that they are all closed on Sundays. Mr. Cathy I am sure spends his Sundays much in the way I spend mine: with family. And no matter what rights Mr. Cathy might want to deny my friends and family, his type of bigotry will not change who I am, who I love and even what I eat. Who knew a simple chicken sandwich could be so complicated.
Chick-fil-A issued a statement last week saying that “going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.” That statement comes too late, because a very dangerous game of chicken is already underway. Now Mr. Cathy and Chick-fil-A are in the middle of the road and on each side, supporters and opponents have them in their crosshairs. Supporters of Mr. Cathy and his stand against same-sex marriage will have an “Appreciation Day” on August 1st. Opponents of the restaurant and those who support same-sex marriage are planning a ‘kiss-in’ August 3rd.
Mr. Cathy has used about $10 million to fund conservative groups who actively oppose same-sex marriage. I never wanted to put this much thought into chicken, waffle fries and coleslaw, but like Mr. Cathy, I too am free to do what I want with my money. The next time I treat myself to the chain’s sinful but tasteful fried chicken and white bread, I will give triple the money I spend to a marriage equality effort. What I am not willing to freely give up is my right to go anywhere, even into places where people like me are not welcomed.
Marie Whitaker is an author and occasional contributor to theGrio and msnbc.com.