Yesterday, in response to the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day promoted by Mike Huckabee, masses of people turned out to support the fast food chain and current President and Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A’s founder S. Truett Cathy. Lines stretched for blocks; people waited for over an hour just to order.
On Mr. Huckabee’s Facebook page promoting the event, he wrote: “I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick Fil-A company because the CEO, Dan Cathy, made comments recently in which he affirmed his view that the Biblical view of marriage should be upheld.” Nowhere does he mention on his page that, according to research done by Equality Matters, Chick-fil-A gave nearly $2 million to anti-LGBTQ groups in 2010 alone. Most of these groups are actively involved in fighting equal marriage rights for LGBTQ people, but some, such as the Family Research Council, have promoted making homosexuality a capital crime in Uganda, and others, such as Exodus International, have in the past promoted so-called ‘reparative therapy.’
Further, Dan Cathy’s comments went well beyond affirming a ‘Biblical view of marriage.’ As reported by Myles Collier in the Christian Post, Mr. Cathy made the following statements during an interview on “The Ken Coleman Show:” “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
Not surprisingly, there are many LGBTQ employees at Chick-fil-A. Several spoke out in an article by Lila Shapiro on the Huffington Post. Their stories about facing the blatant homophobia of some customers on the one hand, and accusations of homophobia from some members of the LGBTQ community on the other, are painful to read. Imagine going to work and having a customer tell you “I’m so glad you don’t support the queers,” totally unaware that you are gay. Imagine how uncomfortable this would make you feel.
But imagine if you felt this way at home. Many of the parents who ate at Chick-fil-A yesterday, whether they know it or not, have LGBTQ children. What if you are an LGBTQ teen and you knew that your parents spent an hour on line to order food at Chick-fil-A, or even worse, they dragged you along? Imagine seeing your aunts and uncles showing their support for Dan Cathy and all the organizations he supports? Imagine wondering what would happen to you if your grandparents, who think Mr. Cathy is a cultural hero, knew you were gay? Or lesbian? Or trans? What would this do to your sense of self-worth? How would this color your relationship with your family, or for that matter, with G-d? Would this make you reconsider coming out? Would it make you consider running away, maybe even killing yourself? What nightmares would this give you?
It is a statistical fact that almost every single person who ate at Chick-fil-A Wednesday has a young family member who is LGBTQ, and just the simple act of joining in Mr. Huckabee’s ‘Appreciation Day’ sent this young relative a devastating message: that they are sinful, that they will bring G-d’s vengeance on the country, and that their families must hate them. This is such a perversion of G-d’s message, one that is causing inestimable harm to countless of our youth. In the face of this, we cannot be silent; we must raise our voices and bear witness to G-d’s love. We must let the world know that Mr. Cathy and his supporters do not represent all people of faith or all faith traditions. We must let our children know we care.