Opponents of gay marriage are being demonized. Not just disagreed with but condemned, attacked, and boycotted. That’s what Chick-fil-A is learning after the president of the chicken sandwich chain told an interview that he supports traditional families. Not just gays but liberals and right-thinking forces of tolerance everywhere are seeking to punish the company. The whole city of Boston is trying to keep it out of town. But the interview and the controversial pro-family comments were not even about gay marriage, as Terry Mattingly has shown. Matthew J. Franck explains:
The highly successful Atlanta-based restaurant chain Chick-fil-A has been much in the news these days, because president and chief operating officer Dan Cathy (whose father founded the family-owned business) apparently came out in opposition to same-sex marriage. Or did he?
Terry Mattingly of the indispensable GetReligion site, which tracks all sorts of journalistic coverage of religion, first called attention to the manufacturing of a misleading story here. In an interview with a writer for the Baptist Press, Cathy was asked about the company’s “support of the traditional family.” His response was, “Well, guilty as charged.” And he went on to talk about the company’s commitment “to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families,” because many of the individual restaurants are family-run operations, and because the Cathy family and their company believe, as Christians, in family-friendly policies. (Their Christian faith and their desire to support families account for the restaurant chain’s being closed on Sundays, for instance, a decision by which the company forgoes many millions in annual revenue.)
At no point in the Baptist Press article did Dan Cathy say a word about the issue of same-sex marriage. The nearest the piece comes to the subject is when the reporter writes, “Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family.” The immediate sequel is the remark of Cathy’s I quoted above. But who are those opponents of the company’s policies? We are never told. Is it fair to surmise the reporter is alluding to advocates of same-sex marriage? Maybe, but it’s far from certain. And Dan Cathy is not, repeat not, on the record in this story as taking any position on that issue.
This did not stop CNN and many other outlets from reporting on the “comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage.” And so a manufactured firestorm began.
He goes on to trace how the story grew and took on a life of its own.
But say the president of Chick-fil-A did say that he opposes gay marriage. Is it not going to be allowed for anyone to oppose gay marriage? Companies openly support the gay rights movement, and conservatives are chided if they consider a boycott. But companies aren’t allowed to take the opposite–that is, the traditional–position? Should companies be neutral about such issues in their philanthropic contributions? If so, shouldn’t people who work for the companies or who run them have the right to express their opinions? Should companies be punished for what their employees believe? Should anyone or any corporation be punished for what they believe?