By Brandon McIntyre
“We’re 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 marriage. And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.” This is the statement that Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy issued on July 9th of this year. As almost the entire nation knows, his comment on same-sex marriage caused huge controversy in the fast food industry.
Across various social media websites and first- or second-hand arguments, I notice, or have noticed, that there are two extremes at hand regarding the issue. The first was a burst of pride in people. They were very happy to see this popular food chain speak their beliefs and do so in a proud manner. The other I’ve noticed is boycotting. Either people were offended by the CEO’s comments or they think they do not have the right to say such a thing.
I looked into the matter further in going to Chick-fil-A and attempting to interview a manager about the controversy. Unfortunately, the manager at Chick-fil-A whom I attempted to contact was obligated to not speak further on the subject. However, I did not leave Chick-fil-A empty-handed. The manager offered me a public release and I gladly took it.
“From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business,” says the public release, issued by Steve Robinson, the Executive Vice President of Marketing. Fair enough. I was well-aware that, before this outbreak of controversy, Chick-fil-A was a “family-led company.” There was no secret about that. I knew Chick-fil-A was closed on Sundays and had read a tiny biography of the Cathy’s over at the Chick-fil-A restaurant one day while eating there. Yes, Chick-fil-A is very Christian and originated under family-based principles.
“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect -regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.” Chick-fil-A does not discriminate against anyone, or at least well I’ve been inside one of their restaurants. They have no intent to harass or berate anyone for their ideals. The employees simply do their job and treat all as equals. “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena,” adds the public release. This line is intelligent. I agree. Leave issues such as gay marriage to politics. Anyone outside politics should not be flaunting their opinions on gay marriage openly. For lack of a better term, it’s not “good manners.”
The last line of the public release reads: “Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.” This should be all restaurants’ mission. Providing genuine hospitality should be all restaurants’ main goal. No one deserves to be discriminated against in a public restaurant and comfort should come first and foremost. You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable or unwanted in any restaurant due to different ideals. Oh yeah, and to “serve great food” is an obvious must for all restaurants. I cannot stress that enough.
A few weeks ago, I was visiting with some family. While doing so, one of my relatives brought up the touchy issue of the CEO’s comment on same-sex marriage. This relative argued that what the CEO said was offensive and that she will never eat there again, or at least not for a while. I found that illogical. While still somewhat naive on the topic, I argued that I was glad that CEO stood up for their Bible-based ideals. For the CEO of Chick-fil-A to do such a thing is valiant and honorable. Now that I am more knowledgeable on the subject, I still have the same opinion, but now I have an even more profound support for their conservative ideals, as I myself am Catholic. Needless to say it did not go well from there.
Regardless, while I have a still-growing pride in Chick-fil-A, the issue is none of their business. Sure, Chick-fil-A is a very conservative food chain, but how is the statement relevant to them? At first glance, I thought “oh great, Chick-fil-A just lost half its business due to something so pointless and stupid,” but it has seen a mixture of results. In some cities, there have been people flooding to Chick-fil-A for their share of chicken. However,in others the ratings for the restaurant have gone down dramatically, according to an article on www.hrc.org. I initially thought it was a terrible business move, not that it was meant to be one. But I was proven wrong. Chick-fil-A has mostly seen positive results, even holding parades.
Let’s not forget that the Chick-fil-A’s are independently owned. The CEO does not manage every single restaurant, as implied. Gay parades are even held by some Chick-fil-A’s. We cannot say “Chick-fil-A hates gays,” because they don’t, even though that seems to be a popular opinion among some.
Plus, people just need to know etiquette. I am speaking of the Vante Chief Financial Officer Adam, who, after Dan Cathy spoke Chick-fil-A’s stance on gay marriage, went through a Chick-fil-A drive-thru and berated an honest-working Chick-fil-A employee, saying rude and uncalled-for comments like “Chick-fil-A is a hateful company” and “this is a horrible corporation with horrible values.” We can’t forget good manners. I think all educated Americans know that we have the freedom of speech. This is fine and I am glad knowing I can say what I wish, but there is a certain point where people take freedom of speech too far. Case-in-point Adam Smith harassing the honest-working Chick-fil-A employee. He was fired from his job after his employers learned of this awful incident.
Before I end this, let me just say one something: initially when starting the rough draft for this article, I had thought about writing a short snippet on my opinion on gay marriage. In the end, I realized that it would start too many fires. After all, I see what the CEO’s statements caused across the nation. As much as I’d like to share my opinion on the topic, it’s just too touchy a subject for me to write what I think and go out saying ” and that’s my opinion,” without causing a lot of arguments.
I will continue to support my Chick-fil-A. I give them two thumbs-up for being assertive on the same-sex marriage subject, despite the fact that it wasn’t at all any of their business. The CEO’s ability to stand up for Chick-fil-A’s conservative ideals with pride makes me infinitely happy for them. In the meantime, I think I’ll take an order of waffle fries.