So, in a brilliant stroke of marketing, the National Organization for Marriage, NOM and Chick-fil-a are capitalizing on the success of "Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day" by making it into a weekly event. It's a neat trick really. Chick-fil-a misses out on the Sunday dining crowd because of their policy of being closed on Sundays but what is the second largest day that folks, especially evangelicals, are likely to be looking for a quick meal before church? Wednesday of course. I find it highly co-incidental that both the initial "Appreciation Day" and the weekly call to action land on Wednesdays. I'm sure that my conservative childhood church wasn't the only one who got chicken for their youth (or other demographic) on August 1st. Call me cynical but it seems more than a bit convenient that NOM has long been one of the direct beneficiaries of Chick-fil-a's donations and given that this is becoming a marketing ploy makes it seem more than a little bit self serving.
It was those donations, and not the ill advised public statements made by Dan Cathy, that were the root of the LGBT boycott in the first place. That has consistently been lost in all the pseudo coverage of this by the media.
Honestly it saddened me when I confirmed the truth of the matter. I have a ton of friends who grew up working at Chick-fil-a. I had considered them for my young daughter's first job. She'll be fifteen in a matter of weeks and of course she wants a car someday soon. She's intimidated by small children so babysitting is out. Chick-fil-a hires 15 year olds and from the experience of my young friends, some who have risen to management levels within the company, it can be a great place to work. I share some of the basic values that adorn the walls. As I am typing this I have open in my facebook a photograph of one of my young friends, a counselor at Winshape camp. These are GREAT young people; sweet, earnest, honest kids. I love them. That makes all this really hard for me.
It would be easy if I could simply vilify Chick-fil-a. It's always easy to vilify the other isn't it? But I can't. I know and love people on both sides of this issue. Its what took me so long to "pick a side" even though I have been an advocate for marriage equality for several years now. I don't want a boycott to harm my young friends who depend upon Chick-fil-a to pay their college bills, to raise their kids, to buy their first cars.
Ultimately though I can no longer stomach the idea of my dollars going to oppose the full equality of my other young friends. The ones who could be fired from their jobs simply because of who they love. The ones who have to jump through insanely complicated hoops to insure that they have the legal right to make medical decisions for their partners, to raise their children, to retain their joint property in the event of their partner's death...rights we have automatically when we sign our marriage licenses. The ones who, having heard over and over and over again that they are an abomination because of who they love, are taking their own lives in droves. The ones who, in part because of the messages being preached by Focus on the Family (another group Chick-fil-a donates heavily to), find themselves on the streets in the name of "tough love" when they gather the courage to come out to their families.
So I will continue to avoid supplying Chick-fil-a with any of my money but I wonder if, going forward, it might be worth our time to grab a case of bottled water and go stand online on Wednesdays (assuming the crowds on the 1st repeat) and attempt to dialogue with the "other"...because clearly this issue isn't going away.