Amy Gehrt: Chick-fil-A takes a stand against equality

Amy Gehrt

A fast-food chicken chain’s anti-gay-marriage stance has landed it in hot water.

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy said his Atlanta-based company is “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” 

He would later go on to add, “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.’”

The majority of the chain’s 1,600 restaurants are located in the Bible Belt, but it is expanding, and backlash over the homophobic remarks has been felt around the country. 

Gay-rights advocates began calling for a boycott. Students at several universities launched petitions to get rid of Chick-fil-A eateries on campuses that have them, or keep the chain from opening outlets on those that don’t. The mayors of Chicago, San Francisco and Boston waded into the fray, too, saying the fast-food chain was not welcome in their cities.

“Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel explained.

“There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail, and no place for your company alongside it,” wrote Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in a letter to Cathy. 

Corporations have also come out in the name of equality. The Jim Henson Company, which created such children’s classics as “The Muppets” and “Fraggle Rock,” severed ties with the fast-food chain — bringing its Creature Shop Puppet Kids Meal toy partnership to an end.

“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over 50 years, and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation),” read a statement on its Facebook page.

Others have sided with Chick-fil-A, with some claiming that the criticism directed at Cathy and his chain is an attempt to violate his First Amendment rights. That argument doesn’t wash with me, however. 

Yes, Cathy is entitled to say whatever he likes, regardless of how reprehensible or wrong it might be. But when he funnels millions of company dollars each year into anti-gay groups such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, then proudly and publicly states that profits are, indeed, being used to wage the war against equality, that’s crossing a line.

It’s also hypocritical, because Cathy claims his beliefs are biblically based ... yet Chick-fil-A serves pork. Perhaps he’s forgotten what Leviticus 11:7-8 has to say about pork: “And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh, shall ye not eat, and their carcass, shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.”

To quote a favorite song of mine by The The, it seems Cathy, like so many who use religion to justify their hate, has “forgotten the message and worships the creeds.”

It’s a confounding irony, as I was always taught that love is the very heart of religion. As such, tolerance and acceptance should be espoused — not bigotry and hatred for anyone who isn’t exactly the same.

I believe that any time two consenting adults find love and want to pledge to spend their lives together, that should be celebrated. And, as citizens of the United States, they should all be treated equally under the law and entitled to all of the same rights and benefits of marriage.

Fortunately, opinion polls show the majority of Americans agree, so it’s only a matter of time before state and federal laws catch up and equality truly is the law of the land in the U.S.

Until then, though, we must all take a stand on the side of civil rights whenever we are faced with ignorance and discriminatory behavior. When it comes to corporations such as Chick-fil-A, the best way to do that is by spending our hard-earned dollars elsewhere. 

City editor Amy Gehrt may be reached at