Politics should not be involved in determining where Chick-fil-A franchises are opened
Chick-fil-A, which made headlines over the summer due to its stand against gay marriage, is back in the news over the same subject. The chain’s president, Dan Cathy, recently claimed that his business had not changed its stance on gay marriage, despite rumors to the contrary. Apparently, officials working with Chick-fil-A in Chicago had been previously told that the restaurant had stopped putting money toward groups opposing gay marriage. Unfortunately, this now means that we must endure more arguing about whether people should eat at Chick-fil-A.
A very publicly devout Baptist, Cathy claims to support “the biblical definition of the family unit.” In addition, Chick-fil-A’s charitable side has partnered with the Focus on the Family group, a Christian organization dedicated to preserving heterosexual marriage. Cathy’s words and actions have understandably upset members of the gay community and those in favor of gay marriage and have led to barriers for his restaurants. The mayors of large cities like Boston and Chicago have even said that Chick-fil-A is not welcome in their cities because of the chain’s expressed views on marriage.
Alderman Joe Moreno, who was working to determine if Chick-fil-A was appropriate for Chicago, was under the impression that the restaurant was moving in a more reasonable direction and therefore would be welcome to open up locations in the city. Now that the restaurant’s president has affirmed that Chick-fil-A’s stance on gay marriage is unwavering, there is sure to be another round of debate on whether Chick-fil-A deserves to be in Chicago and other cities.
The real question here is not whether Chick-fil-A should be tolerated in Chicago. What should be asked is this: Why is the opening of fast food chains such an important topic in politics? It is completely understandable that people are against Cathy’s views on marriage. His opinions are common when taken within the context of his strong religious background, but that does not make them right. Nevertheless, why are city governments so keen on banning Chick-fil-A restaurants from their cities? The mayors and a large proportion of the populations of those cities may be against the anti-gay marriage stance of the restaurants, but that should not mean that the restaurants are to be banned outright. Furthermore, if mayors were to allow Chick-fil-A to open locations in their cities, they would not be signifying that they agree with Cathy’s opinions. In fact, they would be free to publicly denounce the franchises and express their distaste in any way short of actually preventing customers from using the restaurants.
In the end, it all depends on consumers’ own moral qualms, and the decision to ostracize or accept Chick-fil-A should be made by people on an individual level. Whether or not a Chick-fil-A flourishes in a city should ultimately be decided by how much patronage it receives. Perhaps some people do not care that Chick-fil-A does not support gay marriage and would frequent the restaurant anyway. If one feels that eating at Chick-fil-A is akin to donating money to Cathy’s causes, then he will not dine there. Conversely, if one does not care how his money is used, his decision to eat a Chick-fil-A sandwich need not be so complicated — if he enjoys the food, he should eat it. Political figures should not preemptively make a decision for him, though.
True, it would be fantastic if on a national scale Chick-fil-A reversed its views on gay marriage and started voicing support for marriage equality. Its refusal to do so, however, should not lead to the chain being banned in certain areas of the country. One cannot expect Cathy to suddenly recant his decision to fund anti-gay groups, even in the face of public disapproval. Thus, the controversy between Cathy and gay marriage supporters is sure to come up many more times in the future. But by now we are sick of hearing about whether Chick-fil-A should be banned or boycotted. Cathy is expressing his personal opinions, which have nothing to do with Chick-fil-A’s food. Let Chick-fil-A open new locations wherever.
_Alex Yahanda is a senior associate editor for The Cavalier Daily.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org._