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07/18/2012

With latest comments, Chick-fil-a can no longer deny anti-LGBT feelings

by Jeremy Hooper

Let me say, first and foremost, that I, a vegetarian who lives in a city where only one of the restaurant's chains is within a twenty mile driving distance, am really not that personally invested in the Chick-fil-A thing. Some people think I am, because the company's dealings keep coming up on this site. The truth, however, is that I've written about the company just as I've written about any other topic, pro- or anti-LGBT. It's just that the public *REALLY* takes to the Chick posts, likely because the company is a nationally known brand.

But that said, I really do think that the comments I unearthed yesterday are really worth heightened note, so I have no problem building on them. To remind you, this is what company president and COO Dan Cathy said about those of us who support marriage equality for same-sex couples (and about single parents):

"(1:05)…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' and 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"

AUDIO SOURCE: Dan Cathy [Ken Coleman Show]

Dan Cathy's comments are obviously disturbing, regardless of broader context. But when one considers the context in which they were delivered, these comments really do show us, without any shred of doubt, where a major American fast food chain places LGBT people, our lives, and our loves within the societal realm.

Here's what I mean. These latest comments came from a media appearance that Dan Cathy made just a few weeks back. These were not words that I had to dig up from some secretive source or haul out from the WayBack Machine—these were pointed comments delivered on a radio show after a two year period where this particular company has come under great scrutiny for its actions and contributions in regard to LGBT rights. Mr. Cathy is well aware of the controversy, and has even made disingenuous videos and issued responsibility-shirking press releases denying that the company holds such view. But now, as he tells Baptist Press, the President and COO seems to be taking a "guilty as charged" stance. He, the head spokesperson for this company, appears to have embraced defiance, which takes this whole thing to another level entirely.

Let me reinforce that I fully, unequivocally support Mr. Cathy's right to make such statements in our marketplace of ideas, just as I support every consumer's right to make their own choices within the marketplace of fast food. But regardless of where one stands, we now have a clear and undeniable line in the sand. Some might like the company more and some might like the company less, just as people fall on both sides when one of a growing body of companies takes strides toward the expansion of freedoms. Then there are others who will take the pickled bun and fried chicken at face value and not weigh in to the larger implications at all. Again, we are all free to do so.

What Chick-Fil-A is no longer free to do? Deny that there is animus for LGBT people within the top offices of the family that runs the whole operation. Dan Cathy looked a concerned customer base in the eye and doubled down on the idea that gays are "shaking a fist" at God. That is now a very public part of the company's DNA. Plausible deniability is completely off the table.

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