Two years ago, I said to my husband that it seems like the world is in a new war—not a war with weapons and killing, but a war of words and ideas. Two years ago, my husband said that was an extreme view point. Two years ago, it did seem extreme. But after the events this week, I don’t think anyone could deny there is a culture war.
The event that lead to this week’s battle at Chick-fil-A, began mid –July when Dan Cathy, CEO of the fast food chain, Chick-fil- A, declared, “Guilty as Charged” , when asked about the company’s support of traditional marriage.
Chick –fil-A immediately received a lot of backlash. Cathy’s statement of “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit,” was immediately interpreted as a bigoted stance and hate speech. Same-sex-supporters called for an immediate boycott of the fast food chain. The Mayors of Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco declared that Chick-fil-A was not wanted in their cities. Boston Mayor, Menino wrote in a letter to CEO Cathy, “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”
Soon after this, politician and radio host, Mike Huckabee, on his Facebook page asked like-minded consumers to “affirm a business that operates on Christian principles” by “simply showing up and eating at Chick-fil-A” on August first. More than 650,000 people signed up to participate.
Around the same time, a same-sex kiss in was organized for Friday, August 3rd outside Chick-fil-A restaurants.
On August First, Chick-fil-A restaurants were swarmed with customers across the country. The restaurant’s lobbies were filled with happy chicken eating, marriage and free-speech supporters. And the drive-thrus were backed up into the streets. The New York Times reported, that “Hundreds of thousands of people across the country headed to Chick-fil-A restaurants on Wednesday, answering a call from Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, to show support for the fast-food chain after the company’s president drew criticism for his opposition to same-sex marriage.” The Los Angeles Times reported that sales from Wednesday’s support of Chick-fil-A broke a record for sales in a single day for the company.
The same-sex kiss in was a much smaller and quieter event. 14,000 people signed up to support the event on Facebook. Yet, this small protest did not stop same-sex marriage supporters from continuing their attack on Chick-fil-A. The day before the Kiss in , an Illinois based gay rights advocacy group launched a series of complaints with the Illinois State Government against Chick-fil-A over their position on traditional marriage. Jacob Meister, Governing Board President of The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA) said that Chick-fil-A’s “intolerant corporate culture” violated Illinois law.
“In our current high speed media and social media environment, Chick-fil-A has announced and caused to be published, to hundreds of millions of people, that LGBT people are unacceptable and objectionable,” said Meister. “They have made it clear the lives of LGBT individuals are unacceptable to them and that same-gender families are unwelcome at Chick-fil-A.”
A Chick-fil-A restaurant in California was vandalized with the words, “Tastes like Hate.” And a viral video taken by a man in Tuscan, AZ, and placed on YouTube showed him harassing a female Chick-fil-A employee, stating, “I don’t know how you live with yourself and work here.”
Companies Engaged in the Culture Wars
While Chick-fil-A is getting all of the media attention, they are hardly the only company or company owners joining in this culture war. Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos recently donated 2.5 million dollars to support same-sex marriage in Washington State. Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer and co-founder Bill Gates each gave $100,000 to the same. Other companies and big company CEO’s that have recently taken a stance in favor of gay marriage are: Apple, Google, Target, J.C. Penneys, General Mills, Kraft, the financial firm Elliott Management, the Jim Henson Company, and Lisa Henson, CEO of the Huffington Post. Other past companies that have supported gay marriage or gay rights are Ben and Jerry’s, Yahoo, Wal-Mart, and McDonald’s. All of these companies are on the “politically correct” side of the issue and have not received the back lash that Chick-fil-A has.
With the alleged violation of Chick-fil-A against Illinois State Law, the end of the Chick-fil-A battle has yet to be decided, but the people have spoken. Chick-fil-A restaurants were thronged with thousands of supporters on August 1st. In November, Maryland, Washington, Minnesota, and Maine will be voting on the issue of same-sex marriage. I am hoping that those people in support of traditional marriage and freedom of speech will again come out in the thousands and show their support as this culture war continues.