Friday, August 3, 2012

We Need to Get Over Ourselves: A Response to the Chick-Fil-A Response

My spicy hate-sandwich with a side of hate-fries.

As we come to the end of a tumultuous week regarding Chick-Fil-A and their hate sandwiches and their anti-paisley shirts philosophy, I wanted to wrap the week up by weighing in on it just a bit.  Primarily, I wanted to weigh in on it because the most recent blog that is lighting up the Facebook world is a very impassioned personal blog entry titled "The Chick Fellatio: stuck in the craw" by playwright Wayne Self.  Click here to read the full text.

Up front, I want to say I really respect what Wayne has to say here. I understand that he is coming from this as someone who does experience prejudice and discrimination.  It clearly can be a tough thing in this world to live life as a gay man, that is true.  I totally give him that and take none of his passion away.  What I do take issue with is that he is writing entirely from an emotional perspective.  I'm afraid that this inevitably leads to faulty reasoning, bad logic, and misleading information.  And since this thing has gone viral and is showing up everywhere, I wanted to bring just a little bit of facts to bear on it because I think nearly everyone seems to be missing the point -- including Wayne.

I am particularly focusing on just his first point.  I may, at a later time, address the other points but probably not since the other points all build on the faulty presumptions of the first point.

Wayne writes:

1. This isn’t simply about marriage. Shocker, right? It’s extremely frustrating that same-sex marriage is the great continental divide. People are judged according to how they stand on this issue, as if no other issue matters. Did you know that a person can be for same-sex marriage and still be homophobic? Did you know that a person can be against same-sex marriage and be gay? We all get categorized very quickly based on the marriage issue and maybe that’s not fair. But here’s what you should know:
In 29 states in America today, my partner of 18 years, Cody, or I could be fired for being gay. Period. No questions asked. One of those states is Louisiana, our home state. We live in self-imposed exile from beloved homeland, family, and friends, in part, because of this legal restriction on our ability to live our lives together.

No.  This is an appeal to pity, flawed reasoning and a twisted way of looking at it.  This seems to be a common refrain within the activist LGBT community  but it is based on a flawed worldview in the face of the “At-Will” employment doctrine – that is, states that allow employers to fire employees without cause so long as it is not for an unconstitutional reason, in violation of a contract, etc.

The leap that Wayne makes is that he takes that doctrine and twists it to be narrowly focused against him and his partner in that if there is not a law on the books that specifically grants special protection for gay or transgendered from being fired then he is being punished.  He does not point to any actual discrimination against him. He asserts that he lives in self-imposed exile that is entirely unnecessary and demonstrates a martyr syndrome.  There is no legal restriction in place that prevents he and Cody from living their lives together and openly.

Louisiana is an At-Will state.  He and Cody could be fired simply because the employer didn’t care for the way they combed their hair.   I have little sympathy for someone who takes something like an At-Will doctrine and personalizes it into a direct assault or imposition against himself. The courts have  consistently recognized that sexual orientation is not a Constitutional exception of the same level as race, creed, sex, etc.  The reason is that orientation is focused not on a state of being or a belief system, it is behaviorally determined.  And nowhere is the At-Will doctrine intended or implemented for the sole purpose of discriminating against gay people.  If an employer uses his own prejudice to do that, then he is a despicable person but he is within his rights to do so.

And I can’t imagine any gay person would want to continue working within that type of environment anyway.  In other words, it’s time to move on, but there is nothing and noone “exiling” he and Cody except his own figurative self-immolation.

Wayne continues:

In 75 countries in the world, being gay is illegal. In many, the penalty is life in prison. These are countries we can’t openly visit. In 9 countries, being gay is punishable by death. In many others, violence against gays is tacitly accepted by the authorities. These are countries where we would be killed. Killed. 

This may or may not be true.  Without citation to any source or authority, I have to take his word for this.  I will assume it to be true and agree that it is a horrible and inexcusable thing.  However, it is irrelevant to us here in the United States and I question the point of bringing it up except that I know why he brought it up – it is a fallacious appeal to the emotions of the reader so that he can then make an equally fallacious “Guilt by Association” leap to connect the Family Research Council and the Marriage & Family Foundation to these countries.

Wayne continues:
- Two organizations that work very hard to maintain this status quo and roll back any protections that we may have are the Family Research Council and the Marriage & Family Foundation. For example, the Family Research council leadership has officially stated that same-gender-loving behavior should be criminalized in this country. They draw their pay, in part, from the donations of companies like Chick-Fil-A. Both groups have also done “missionary” work abroad that served to strengthen and promote criminalization of same-sex relations.

The Marriage & Family Foundation is a foundation that is either defunct or so small and ineffective that I couldn’t even find a Wiki page on it.  It was allegedly founded by Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy himself as a part of some other ineffective and practically unknown group called the Marriage CoMission.  I did find a link to Media Matters that purported to have the “purpose” statement of the Marriage & Family Foundation but when I clicked on it, it was a dead link.  But there was a cached link to it still available and that is here.

So, I limited my research to the Family Research Council (FRC), simply because it seemed to be getting the most attention this past week or so.  First, let’s clarify a few things.  Yes, the FRC, for religious reasons, is a group that makes one of their missions to promote what they consider the “traditional” marriage (heterosexual) and to opine and lobby against efforts to implement “same sex” marriage and “educate” people as to what they perceive as the dangers to family and society of homosexual behavior.  (Read this link for info).

I do not support their efforts there but that is a great big leap to mention countries where the law demands the killing of homosexuals and connect it to a rather small activist group whose primary efforts are publishing position papers for and against different political and moral issues.  Position papers, editorials, and blogs do not equal legal killings.

Furthermore, the writer says that the FRC has officially stated that homosexual behavior should be criminalized in this country.  No, what the FRC has said is that states that already have “criminal sanctions” in place for homosexual behavior should be enforcing them.  There is a difference.  If you choose not to accept that difference, then you are contributing to the problem rather than fixing it.  In fact, FRC President Tony Perkins has stated officially that criminalizing homosexuality is not a goal of the FRC.  I also looked at a few different sites such as Ministry Watch and Open Secrets to see how the FRC spends its money and realized that it is a very ineffective PAC simply because it does not bring in enough revenue to really make much of a difference.  The flaw in the LGBT drawing all this attention onto the FRC this week is that it will probably cause a spike in donations the same way that Chick-Fil-A posted record revenue this week.  This is why boycotts never actually work but positive support for companies does.

Wayne concludes with:

Chick-Fil-A has given roughly $5M to these organizations to support their work.

Actually, Chick-Fil-A has given exactly $1,188,380 to the Marriage & Family Foundation and $1,000 to FRC.  There’s a big difference between spending $1,189,380 and “roughly $5M”.  That is intentionally inflating numbers to provoke people’s emotions.

Look, this whole thing has gotten ridiculous and I can only assume it is because this is an election year.  If this country is going to make it, we have got to learn how to disagree philosophically, religiously, sexually, morally, and politically without it turning into this insane spew of emotional bumper-sticker lines and propaganda.  Someone who supports gay marriage is not necessarily an evil person committed to the corruption of our children and the destruction of the family unit and committed to mocking all things Jesus.  Likewise, someone who opposes gay marriage is not necessarily an evil homophobic slobbering redneck committed to depriving gay people of happiness and destroying their lives.

There are extremists on all sides and they do not speak for the majority.

Stop taking offense because all it does it put everyone on the defensive.

Stop arguing all the time over the wrong thing.

In this case, it isn’t really about the morality or immorality of same-sex marriage or behavior.  That is legitimately an issue where people of differing religious, intellectual, and philosophical positions can disagree and should be able to express themselves without fear of reprisal.  The issue is over the fact that our government is unwilling to stand firm and outlaw all unequal treatment (in terms of medical issues, survivor benefits, insurance coverage, etc.) of committed couples who are same-sex.  That is a legitimate issue because it is discriminatory without justification.  That’s where our efforts need to be placed and not in another stupid boycott.  Anyone remember the idiotic boycotts of Ben & Jerry’s and Target  by conservative groups?  Those did as much good as this idiotic boycott of Chick-Fil-A over a $1,000 donation to a group whose only real accomplishments are publishing position papers.

How about we all move on now.


  1. Well, at the prompt of Mike Huckabee, Georgetown folks pretty much bought out Chick Fil A on Wed. So they are pretty much out of food, if anything, this made Chick Fil A a profit.

    Although I disagree with the homosexual lifestyle (I view it as immoral), I don't judge the homosexual (up to someone bigger than me to do so). A state should be able to regulate licenses as they please, and if they decide to give a civil union license, then the constituents of the area should have a say so. As it stands a pastor can refuse to marry a couple if they please, as long as this right isn't infringed upon, then there is no real loss of civil liberties.

    One note, every great nation throughout history can mark the beginning of it's decline by the decline in the morality of that nation. As we all know, history repeats itself.

  2. I happen to believe firmly that the state never should have been and should now get out of the business of licensing civil unions of any kind -- whether we call it marriage or not. The only governmental involvement I support is as a registry of unions for record-keeping and in case of the need for court involvement in cases of divorce and the distribution of property and child support. A marriage exists when 2 people decide to be married and make vows to each other (and if religious also to God). So long as they are adults of sound mind and legal age I don't believe the government should have any power to grant or deny beyond that.

    And the sell-out in Georgetown was repeated throughout the country. As I said: Boycotts never work and in fact often cause the opposite result.

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  4. Okay. Per your suggestion, I did do a little more research. I found that, through the WinShape foundation, Chick-Fil-A made another $1,000 donation to the Family Research Council in 2009. And this is from a site trying to make Chick-Fil-A look bad for donating "nearly $2M" to "Anti-Gay" causes and groups. The problem with that is that being opposed to certain legislation does not make one ipso-facto anti-gay. In fact, someone can believe homosexuality is morally wrong but also be fully committed to equality. They may also be opposed to the law for reasons other than their moral stance. Oftentimes, divisive bills are divisive because they are agenda-driven and have implications beyond the bumper-sticker level that most people focus on. I would likely be opposed to a bill like that in my state simply because I don't think marriage itself should be legislated. I would say that the right for gay people to get married is a Constitutional right (and the moralizing about it is for individuals and their own personal belief systems) and should be approached from that point of view and not by these obnoxiously polarizing local bills that are there just to incite and excite on both sides of the issue.

    Now as for Cathy's personal returns. You must have a crystal ball because I thought our personal tax returns were protected under our right to privacy unless we make them public (like certain Presidential candidates). As far as I know, Cathy has not chosen to make his personal returns public so you actually have no clue what he has or has not donated personally. And I, personally, do not care.