COMMENTARY | When Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy announced earlier this month that the restaurant has a corporate policy against marriage equality, he may not have realized just what he was getting into. Backlash against the restaurant has spanned from celebrity boycotts to major companies ending their relationships with Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A has come under fire in the last few years for donating millions of dollars to conservative, anti-gay organizations, some of them classified as hate groups. In a recent interview with Baptist Press , Cathy was asked whether his restaurant had a policy against same-sex marriage. He responded, “Guilty as charged.”
Cathy also appeared on Ken Coleman’s radio show and was asked a similar question. His response : “As it relates to society in general I think 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 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 try to redefine what marriage is about.”
In light of Cathy’s announcements, the Jim Henson Co., which used to provide toys for Chick-fil-A kids meals, cut its ties to the restaurant as of Friday. The well-known Muppet company announced via its Facebook page that the payment it received from Chick-fil-A would be forwarded to GLAAD, an organization that advocates LGBT equality in media.
Last week, actor Ed Helms, best known for his roles on The Office and in The Hangover, announced via Twitter that he would no longer patronize the restaurant: “Chick-fil-A doesn’t like gay people? So lame. Hate to think what they do to the gay chickens! Lost a loyal fan.” Similarly, Food Network star Michael Symon tweeted , “remind me to never eat at chick fil a ever again.”
And in Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino vowed to block any Chick-fil-A restaurants from opening, particularly near the historically significant Freedom Trail, a location the restaurant has had its eye on. “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” Menino said last week.
Finally, two massive demonstrations have been planned within two days of each other at the restaurant. Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has announced “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day ” to take place on Aug. 1, calling on people to eat at Chick-fil-A as a way to support the company for standing up for “Godly values.”
Two days later, on Aug. 3, gay rights activists will hold a “National Same-Sex Kiss Day ” to take place at Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country, where people are invited to come out, kiss their same-sex partners, and certainly not buy anything.
Cathy has been relatively silent on the matter for a few days, save for one online attempt at damage control, but if one thing is certain, it’s that Chick-fil-A’s role at the center of a social media firestorm will not end anytime soon.
Camille Beredjick is a journalism student at Northwestern University and the founder and sole contributor ofGayWrites.org, a daily LGBT news blog.