Gay activists vs. Chick-fil-A

The restaurant chain is under fire for a connection to a group that opposes gay marriage. Is the company being dragged into a fight where it doesn't belong, or do its policies make it fair game?

The fast food chain is under scrutiny after a Pennsylvania location provided free lunch to a seminar hosted by an anti-gay rights group.
(Image credit: CC BY: Ann Larie Valentine)

Fast-food chain Chick-fil-A has been swept up in the gay marriage debate, after a Pennsylvania outlet offered free lunches for a February marriage seminar held by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which has worked to defeat gay rights initiatives. Critics — who already derided the fast-food company as "Jesus chicken" for its Christian corporate ethos — unleashed a barrage of criticism, accusing the company of being "anti-gay." Chick-fil-A's president, Dan Cathy, said the company is not "anti-anybody." Is Chick-fil-A being unfairly targeted, or did it get itself into this fix? (Watch a local report about a campus protest)

Chick-fil-A is anti-gay: No matter what the company claims, says the blog Good as You, the truth is that Chick-fil-A has extensive "ties to anti-gay advocacy." The company's profits — "profits you contribute to anytime you eat at one of the chain's many locations" — have been used to sponsor marriage seminars where participants speak out against gay rights. Chick-fil-A supports "love, family, and marriage," unless you're gay.

"Here's what Chick-fil-A defenders don't understand"

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The critics are not being fair: Chick-fil-A's mission is "selling chicken sandwiches," not fighting gay marriage, says Peter Wood in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The company has never been accused of discriminating against gays or lesbians. This anti-Chick-fil-A campaign is just an unfair attempt to "punish and stigmatize those with whom the protesters disagree." It's especially sad that activists are trying to push the restaurant off college campuses, which are supposed to be bastions of free speech.

"Is Chick-fil-A anti-gay?"

Criticizing Chick-fil-A is free speech: "Free speech is a two-way street, folks," says Matt Comer at InterstateQ. That means Chick-fil-A has "every right" to "sponsor anti-gay organizations and events — it's up to the company to decide whether doing so is in its own "best, fiscal interest." But "consumers aren't drones." We have every right to consider the political causes the company backs — and, if we disagree, to say we're going to eat lunch somewhere else.

"Freedom of speech does not equal carte blanche freedom from criticism"

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