Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Wrong Side of History: Choosing Anti-Gay Policies

Question 1: Why does a chicken sandwich have a political opinion?

Have you been keeping an eye on what's going on with Chick-fil-A? It's common knowledge that the fast food chain is Christian affiliated but they've decided to take this beyond being closed on Sundays. They're now openly anti-gay.

Truth is, this is not a new stance. A petition from a year ago collected over 28,000 signatures against the restaurant chain, but the current outcry is particularly strong because they've now admitted that they're "guilty as charged" when it comes to being anti-gay. The backlash has been significant. There is a call to boycott the company for people who love a delicious chicken sandwich but hate homophobia. (Like me!) And the beloved Muppets recently ditched the homohating chicken slingers. 

It strikes me as not only ignorant and absurd that Chick-fil-A is openly anti-gay, but also just bad business practice. I know that as a private entity they have every right to affiliate how ever they want, but what sense does it make to drive away a whole segment of potential customers? I mean, really...when you are a business whose primary goal is selling food, how does it make sense for said food to have a political identity?! Of course no one is trying to change the politics of the people who run Chick-fil-A, but do the sandwiches themselves really need to be affiliated with gay hate? (More on this later.)

Question 2: Why are the Boy Scouts teaching hate?

Speaking of private entities and their right to discriminate if they want, let's turn to the Boy Scouts, an organization which has long stood as a national symbol of youth integrity, responsibility, and honor. And yet they stand firmly by their policy of excluding gay members.

Similarly to Chick-fil-A, the Boy Scouts can do whatever they want. It is fully within their rights to exclude homosexuals, and this right was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2000But just because something is legal, that doesn't make it smart, moral, just, or right. And just because it is legally within their rights, it doesn't make it cohesive with their stated principals. For example, if the scouts are working to "build youth character" should they be teaching boys that some people's parents aren't good enough simply for who they love? The Boy Scout oath swears to help other people, but then the organization's actions send the message that some people are lesser. Over and over, the message to young, impressionable boys is one of othering and hatred. 

Luckily, some very brave Eagle Scouts agree with me and are returning their awards in protest of the organization's stance against homosexuals.

Question 3: So really, why be on the wrong side of history?

Let's for a minute pretend that gay rights are a neutral or even unimportant topic. Let's pretend that marriage equality shouldn't be a primary concern. Let's pretend that ensuring that all people have equal rights isn't worth our attention. Ok, you with me?

Now let's say we are of this mindset, but we still look at the facts: It is becoming increasingly clear that Americans' overall opinion on gay rights is changing. Given this information, wouldn't that be enough alone to reconsider your position as a food company which wants to serve the public to profit? Or as an organization that believes "that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society" wouldn't you want to reach as many youth as possible? When you come out as strongly anti-gay, while more and more people are pro-gay rights, then, in theory, you are choosing a diminishing pool of potential scouts or customers. 

So what is the benefit of specifically excluding people?

That, my friends, is a trick question, because there is no benefit, at least not long term. In the present, Chick-fil-A and the Boy Scouts might be able to energize their conservative base. But in the long term, as the public opinion of gay rights continues to evolve, more and more people will disagree with companies and organizations that espouse homophobia. It's a foolish and short sighted strategy to decide to be on the wrong side of history. (Not to mention just hateful.)

I can only hope that our collective consciousness doesn't suffer from long term memory loss and forgive Chick-fil-A or the Boy Scouts unless they make big changes of policy and publicly admit their wrongs.

1 comment:

  1. I find it interesting that only the Boy Scouts have "America" in their name, while with the other organisations it's USA... maybe I am reading too much into this, but this seems like a sign of some deeper issues.


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