A quick followup to yesterday’s post:
Hopefully, Dear Reader, you understood that this idea of “fighting hatred” by buying a bag of Oreos or eating a burrito was quite obviously Deliberate Facetiousness In The Service Of Humor.
And I’m not advocating boycotts, either. I don’t think they work. Furthermore, you’re only responsible for your own choices and you shouldn’t sign on to further someone else’s agendas. I also feel sorry for Chick-Fil-A franchisees. Most of them are neutral on the issue of same-sex marriage at minimum. It seems unfair that they now have to deal with blowback on an issue that has nothing to do with their ability to make and serve hot sandwiches. They have plenty of reason to be pretty damned pissed off at the actions of the company’s COO.
The LGBT community has to deal with real hatred. Yup, the country has become far more accepting of nontraditional couples. But even though the majority of the populace accepts same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage (if polls can be believed), many such couples don’t dare hold hands when they walk down the street, except when they’re in places that are known to be LGBT-friendly. They’ve been forced to deal with pinheaded ignorance, open hostility, and the threat of violence all their lives. They have no idea if the person coming up towards them on the sidewalk is going to react to the sight of two men hugging by spitting on them…or by doing far, far worse. That’s the reality.
People like me can’t appreciate how fundamental that kind of disapproval is. I’m not the only straight person who’s been chased down a street by people shouting the word “faggot” at me and intending to do me bodily harm. But even during my worst month in junior high, I never ever for even a minute worried that maybe someone I don’t even know will take one look at me and immediately want to kick my ass just on principle. That’s the difference.
Secondly, the COO of Chick-Fil-A doesn’t get a free pass just because his actions and opinions are grounded in his religious beliefs.
But let’s rewind a bit. It’s important to point out that he actually doesn’t need to justify his beliefs at all. Not to me, not to Chick-Fil-A customers, not to anybody. He has every right to his opinion.
The problem isn’t that he has an unpopular opinion. The problem isn’t even that it’s an opinion that I happen to think is indefensible. The problem is that he’s actively trying to restrict other people’s rights. And that’s why this man needs to defend his choices.
The marriage of two gents or two ladies doesn’t affect his life one tiny bit. But: the millions of dollars he spends to ban same-sex marriage affects millions of lives directly. It hurts innocent people immensely.
Not having a legally-recognized relationship with your life partner can have devastating consequences during a medical emergency, during longterm care, and after death. The law protects spouses and ensures that they have rights in those situations, despite what their partners’ blood relatives might have to say. In many cases, same-sex partners are non-entities in the eyes of the state.
That’s the horrible state of affairs that the COO of Chick-Fil-A wishes to strengthen, extend, and perpetuate. While he and I are debating the subtle points about the definition of the word “family,” people out there are suffering, for real. For same-sex couples, this issue is anything but an abstract problem.
I’m going to avoid the larger issue of why someone doesn’t want to acknowledge a same-sex marriage. As you might guess, my opinions on that are strong and clear, but it’s a distraction from the central issue: if legalizing something won’t directly or indirectly affect your life one tiny bit, and making it illegal hurts people, then that’s the end of the discussion.
In truth, I grudgingly respect the COO of Chick-Fil-A for coming out and standing behind his beliefs. I don’t hate this man. How can I? I’ve never met him. But I’m certain that he’s wrong. And if I never want to step foot in a Chick-Fil-A, it’s not because I want to punish him for his beliefs. It’s only because I can’t see that brand and that logo without thinking about something nasty that will interfere with my enjoyment of a fast-food sandwich.
[Edited to add: BE POLITE in the comments, please. Make it about ideas and issues, not about personalities.]