By now, I am sure most of you have heard the news that the President of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, made a formal statement to the press acknowledging the family’s (hence the company’s) stance against gay marriage. Specifically, Cathy said that they are “supportive of the…biblical definition of the family unit.”
I can’t say that I’m terribly surprised. It has been acknowledged for years that Chick-Fil-A is a company founded and run on Christian principles. I had heard murmurings and rumors for years
that the company funneled money to support anti-gay lobbying measures or anti-gay groups. Until I heard it directly from the head of the company, though, I was able to plead ignorance and continue patronizing a restaurant that I loved for so many other reasons.
Now I’m conflicted.
On the one hand, I do not like supporting companies whose principles (business or otherwise) are in conflict with my values. I want to put my money where my heart is. This is why I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart, for example.
On the other hand, if I tried to keep track of every retailer’s ethics and align my purchases with only the businesses that support my values, I would be exhausted. It can certainly be done, but between the research, the expense, and the lack of convenience, I might just hole up in my house and never make a purchase again. This only works if I can sew my own clothes, grow my own food, and never drive a car again. I don’t think that’s very realistic. If I boycott one company for a particular issue, do I have to do it across the board? Where do I draw the line?
As I debate this issue with myself, I wonder if there is a difference between boycotting a company because of the way it treats its employees, engages in shady business practices, or abuses the Earth’s resources (e.g. Wal-Mart, Phillip Morris, or BP) versus boycotting a company because you don’t like how they spend their profits (e.g. Chick fil A).
Aside from this issue with using their profits to support an extremist religious agenda, I find very little fault with the company. They use locally sourced and fresh food whenever possible. They pay their employees fairly and foster a healthy corporate culture. They promote wellness and family involvement and do many things for nonprofits in their communities. How many good things must a company do to outweigh overt discrimination?
As the issues of rights for GLBT people continue to be debated in our country, many have drawn parallels to the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s. Fifty years ago, it was considered common practice for many businesses to deny equal rights to people of color, uphold discriminatory policies, and support other endeavors that furthered these ideas. In fact, many people claimed that this racism was justified based on Christian principles and scripture taken directly from the Bible. We look back on history today and find that kind of discrimination unbelievable…almost laughable. Yet almost the same arguments and justifications are being used against the LGBT community in this decade.
I may not be able to boycott every single company whose values conflict with my own, but I can certainly avoid a tasty chicken sandwich and waffle fries. I am sorry, Chick-fil-A, but you have lost a fan. I stand for equality. I stand for loving my neighbor…regardless of their sexual preference. If you change your mind, you know where to find me.