As you are prolly well aware, yesterday was a so-called Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day where thousands of people rallied around the fast food chain in a show of, IMHO, misguided support. True, many people did line up to support the company’s hateful practices but many others did so for the wrong reasons … but I’ll get to that in a minute. In opposition to CFA Appreciation Day, businesses here in LA offered an alternative. The Abbey Food & Bar in West Hollywood, CA has introduced a Chick-Fil-Gay sandwich that will benefit the fight for marriage equality. Hamburger Mary’s, also in WeHo, is offering a chicken sandwich of their own. While others gave their money to CFA that will, in turn, be donated to anti-gay hate groups, David and I dined at The Abbey last night happy in the knowledge that our money was being put to good use. May people claim that this CFA boycott is meant to stifle the company owner’s First Amendment right to free speech … but, on the contrary, I welcome his use of this right … because now more people know what the company stands for and why it’s imperative to stop giving them money.
The Abbey Food & Bar, known as the best Gay Bar in the World, having won the title two year’s in a row from MTV’s Logo, announced today they would be adding The Chick-for-Gay Sandwich to their menu with 100% of net proceeds from the sale of the sandwich going to support the American Foundation for Equal Rights and their federal court challenge in support of marriage equality. “With the upcoming election, even our lunch choices are a political statement. If corporations have the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on an agenda of hate, we as an LGBT business community have to spend money supporting Marriage Equality,” said David Cooley, Founder of The Abbey. “If corporations have the same free speech rights as people, the people have to exercise their First Amendment right at the cash register by patronizing businesses that support our agenda and stop giving money to those that oppose equality.” The Abbey’s Chick-for-Gay Sandwich is a seasoned breaded boneless chicken breast served on a toasted buttered bun with pickles. The sandwich will be available through the November elections. They Abbey will happily share the recipe with other pro-LGBT businesses that want to support marriage equality through the sale of the sandwich.
This whole CFA debate has been watered down to the point where people think the debate is over a chicken sandwich … it’s not. It’s about a company, no matter what their personal religious beliefs are, that willingly gives money they get from customers over to organizations that work toward stripping American citizens of their rights. In the United States of America, the Land of the Free, there are hate groups whose sole existence is to oppose the rights of others. Many CFA supporters think that by supporting CFA they are supporting the First Amendment … as noble as that may sound, it’s not true. Firstly, no one is attempting to take away CFA’s free speech rights. Secondly, that’s not what any of this is about in the first place. It’s about not supporting a company that happily supports hate groups. For many years, I was an avid and vocal fan of Chick-Fil-A. In college, I ate there everyday … but back then, I was totally ignorant of the company’s practice of donating to anti-gay organizations. When I found out there was a CFA in SoCal, I happily ate there as often as I could. I had heard that CFA donated to some anti-gay groups but because the CFA that I frequented (inside a mall in Redondo Beach) was owned by a lovely couple who I had befriended, I justified my actions by convincing myself I was supporting their business. I’ve come to realize that I can no longer support the larger parent company in anyway — at all. This Time magazine article by Josh Ozersky sums it up perfectly:
I wrote back in February that I liked Chick-fil-A’s food, and that as an American, I felt bound to respect its owners’ opinions, however wrong I might think them, as separate from a business whose practices and product seemed above reproach. (This is the New York Times’ official position, more or less, and it’s wrong too.) I also pointed to One Million Moms’ idiotic attempted boycott of JCPenney for employing Ellen DeGeneres at its spokesperson. No one came onboard, and I argued that this was fair-mindedness. But after hearing what Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy recently had to say, and — more important — after looking a little more closely into just how freely Chick-fil-A mingles its religion with its business, I have changed my mind. I had always thought of Chick-fil-A’s owners as hewing to private principles in nonintrusive ways, namely by closing on Sundays. But those private principles just got a lot more public … Opposition to gay marriage has become a matter of pride for the Georgia-based chain. Worse by far is the support, as IRS forms show, by the WinShape Foundation (Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm) for various anti-gay bodies including Exodus International, whose leaders talked up its gay “cure” in Uganda before the country introduced legislation that threatens gays with death or imprisonment — although Exodus now says that going to that anti-gay conference was a mistake. The problem with Chick-fil-A goes beyond LBGT issues. A former worker recently filed a lawsuit against the parent company in which she claims that a franchise owner of a Chick-fil-A in Georgia fired her so she could be a stay-at-home mom. The corporate culture embraces an overt religiosity, from prayer meetings at business retreats to asking people who apply for an operator license to disclose their marital status and number of dependents. I respect Chick-fil-A’s owners for taking a love-it-or-leave-it stance in regard to their religion; and, like a lot of people, I am choosing to leave it.
But, if you can believe it, not all CFA franchises are on board with the parent company’s anti-gay sentiments. A franchise owner in New Hampshire has announced that his Chick-Fil-A restaurant plans to donate food for an upcoming Gay Pride event:
The manager of a Chick-fil-A in Nashua, N.H., is donating sandwiches to an upcoming festival celebrating gay rights. The support from franchise operator Anthony Piccola for the New Hampshire Pride Fest comes as the restaurant chain continues to be criticized for an executive’s comments about gay marriage. Piccola said Wednesday that the Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in its restaurants “is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.” It followed a statement he made last week that said the Nashua restaurant at the Pheasant Lane Mall has gay employees and serves gay customers “with honor, dignity and respect” … The New Hampshire festival emphasizing “Unity Through Community” is scheduled for Aug. 11 in Manchester’s Veterans Park. It will feature a march, music and a family-friendly drag show.
As you can see, the issue isn’t nearly as black and white as some people assume. In fact, the battle over the “chicken sandwich” has even moved into an entirely different realm altogether:
A New Jersey-based bakery is hoping to combat the sour taste of “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” with a little something sweet. Rutherford’s Sweet Avenue Bake Shop, which specializes in vegan and dairy-free baked goods, is offering a special “Rainbow Pride” cupcake in response to former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s efforts to reverse the Chick-fil-A backlash after the restaurant chain’s president confirmed his company’s anti-gay stance in an interview. The bakery says the multihued cupcakes are meant to “support love rather than hate,” and come topped with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles. In addition, one dollar from the purchase of each cupcake will be donated to Garden State Equality, a New Jersey-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy group. Jake Vance, who co-owns Sweet Avenue with his wife Danielle, told HuffPost Gay Voices that his shop initially planned to offer the special cupcakes from Aug. 1 through the end of the weekend. However, demand for the desserts has been so high that the couple expects to extend the offer, possibly through the end of the month. “We figured it would be a good time to make a statement of our own, so this is our way to counteract all of the negativity going around,” Vance said. The couple was inspired not only by the ongoing Chick-fil-A controversy, but also a Colorado bakery’s refusal to prep a gay couple’s wedding cake. “To not make a wedding cake for a gay couple…you’re not really standing up for anything, you’re just punishing the couple for no reason,” Vance added.
Honestly, it’s very disheartening to see an issue as important as marriage equality boiled down to a food fight but I suppose there is a benefit to the way this controversy is playing out. In the end, all of this back and forth will be for naught. Marriage Equality will come to the US, absolutely. Try as hard as you might, you cannot stop the march of progress. All the people who feel vindicated by yesterday’s mass support of CFA have to come to terms with the fact that they will lose in the end. The only way they know how to celebrate their hate and ignorance is by going to a fast food restaurant — if it weren’t so sad, it’d be funny. All the money that they spend at CFA that, in turn, gets donated to anti-gay hate groups will be wasted completely … because equality reigns in this country, it always wins out in the end. The supporters of CFA can have their hate, their ignorance, their chicken sandwiches … but this country will have marriage equality for all. It’s easy to see who really wins here. We all do.