It can be hard for consumers dedicated to civil rights or family values to keep things, err, straight. For example, you can buy Oreos (gay) and General Mills products such as Cheerios, Chex, Total, Trix and Wheaties (all gay), at Wal-Mart (anti-gay). You can buy Girl Scout cookies (gay) and donate to the Salvation Army (anti-gay) outside the Home Depot (gay), but you would have known that already if you had Googled (gay).
One Million Moms says you shouldn’t shop at J.C. Penney because they hired lesbian Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson and featured same-sex couples in their ads, proving they "cater to homosexuals and their sinful lifestyle choices."
The American Family Association says you shouldn’t read Archie comic books because they created a gay character. The Family Research Council says you ought not buy video games made by EA because a few of its games have gay characters. Oh, you also can’t shop at Toys R Us because they sold this stuff.
And when Starbucks came out for marriage equality in Washington state, the National Organization for Marriage announced a Dump Starbucks boycott, leading one special snowflake in Colorado to buy Starbucks coffee and then dump it into the gutter.
If you’re not a dialed-in activist or a paranoid zealot and are just trying to get the kids out the door in the morning with a hot breakfast in their stomachs and a healthy lunch in their backpacks, it can be hard to do the right thing with your dollar. And we’re only talking about gay rights, and not partisan contributions, environmental policies, or labor rights, let alone worrying about what’s healthy or affordable.
But then Chick-fil-A happened. We already knew they closed on Sundays to be with their families because we might have on occasion rolled up after a long Saturday night looking for the miraculous cure that only comes from their fried chicken biscuits. And we know there’s a God because those chicken biscuits are so good.
This all started on July 16 when Chic-fil-A’s president and chief operating officer Dan Cathy gave a sincere and direct interview with the Baptist Press about how his religious beliefs informed his business practices. When asked about opposition to Chick-fil-A giving millions to advocates for so-called traditional marriage, Cathy chirped, "Well, guilty as charged."
That’s when the Chic hit the fan. Odds are if you’re a Democrat, your social media networks exploded with outrage. The Jim Henson Company, the folks who brought you Kermit and Miss Piggy, severed its ties to the restaurant chain with a Facebook post. Actor Ed Helms said he was never going there again. Former governor Elliot Spitzer declared his own boycott, which surely came as a relief to chickens, fast-food workers and indeed the entire South.
But that doesn’t make their chicken biscuits any less delicious. I began to bargain, asking my conservative friends if they’d agree to eat Oreos and Girl Scout cookies so I could go to Chick-fil-A. I thought about organizing a sit-in that might stretch from lunch until dinner.
Then I read Cathy’s interview in its entirety and noticed another of his quotes: "We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family owned business, a family led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."
Cathy and I have things in common. We both like chicken biscuits, and each of us runs a family business. He sponsors a bowl game, and I once coached my youngest son’s flag football team.
But I’m on my second marriage. According to Cathy, that’s not a "traditional" marriage, and the grafted family tree that works together to raise my sons doesn’t meet his definition of a family unit. My life doesn’t fit Cathy’s definition of biblical principles.
It’s too easy for straight allies to think of gays and lesbians as separate from us. They need rights we already enjoy. They face bigotry we deplore. But it happens to them, not us. Chick-fil-A has performed a miracle. I’m a middle-class white guy in America, and Chick-fil-A has finally made me feel what it’s like to be discriminated against. Also, I have lost my appetite for those chicken biscuits.
Jason Stanford’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. He is a Democratic consultant who has helped elect or re-elect more than two dozen Members of Congress. He lives in Austin, Texas. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @jasstanford.