By now you might have heard the story about Chick-fil-A and its efforts to open a store in Chicago. The restaurant corporation, in order to appease the strong-arm tactics of one of the city leaders, agreed to stop funding traditional marriage advocacy groups. That action is shocking enough, but what cuts equally to the core of American fiber, is the fact that the "government" dictated how a business should be run, and the business listened.
As I covered back in July, the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain was thrust into the national spotlight, because its president, Dan Cathy, publicly commented on his beliefs of the Biblical, traditional definition of marriage. This caused the mayor of Boston to threaten the company and write, "There is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it. I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston."
Of course, neither Cathy nor the restaurant chain discriminates against anyone... ever. But that didn't stop Chicago officials like Mayor Rahm Emanuel from jumping on the bandwagon too:
"Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago values. They're not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you're gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values," Emanuel said Wednesday.
"What the CEO has said as it relates to gay marriage and gay couples is not what I believe, but more importantly, it's not what the people of Chicago believe. We just passed legislation as it relates to civil union and my goal and my hope ... is that we now move on recognizing gay marriage. I do not believe that the CEO's comments ... reflects who we are as a city."
The attack on the company by left-wing officials became a rallying point for conservatives, and the popularity of the restaurant skyrocketed at its existing locations. But this story does not have a happy ending.
As reported in The Washington Times, in its pursuit of opening restaurants in the Chicago area, Chick-fil-A has agreed to STOP funding organizations like Focus on the Family and other, similar pro-marriage groups.
Chick-fil-A stopped funding traditional-marriage groups in an effort to open a new Chicago restaurant, but the company initially kept quiet about the decision, prompting gay rights groups to speculate that the company feared a backlash from conservative customers.
The Christian-rooted fast food restaurant agreed to stop funding groups such as Focus on the Family that oppose same-sex marriage in a meeting with the Chicago politician who had been blocking the company's move there. Chick-fil-A wrote a letter to Alderman Joe Moreno affirming this, according to his spokesman, Matt Bailey, but the company initially wouldn't allow his office to release the letter to the public. Three weeks later they relented.
Moreno, the alderman opposing Chick-fil-A's efforts to open a store in his ward, called the move "a win for gay rights."
"Prior to today, Chick-fil-A had a poor record when it came to acknowledging equal rights for all of our citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation," he said. "But today, we have a new path: For the first time, Chick-fil-A has changed their practices and promised the workplace protections that all of our citizens deserve. Instead of being a company that openly promotes discrimination, Chick-fil-A has vowed to move forward."
No! Not the Obama "forward" phrase!
Chick-fil-A released a "Who We Are" document in response to the political chaos. In the statement, the restaurant company states: "A part of our corporate commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Because of this commitment, Chick-fil-A's giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. We will continue to focus our giving in those areas. Our intent is not to support political or social agendas."
But backing off from groups that support traditional marriage is EXACTLY what Chick-fil-A is doing now, and they are doing it, not from consumer pressure, but from government.
This is exactly why this whole situation is wrong, and should be a wake-up call to all Americans. I know most will be focusing on the fact that Chick-fil-A appears to be throwing its beliefs overboard in the name of corporate expansion. It is certainly disappointing that their desire to open restaurants in Chicago led to this action, but, to me, the main point is that Chick-fil-A's actions were based on pressure from the government.
If a restaurant chain or corporate owner were facing heat from consumers because of a statement or action and the restaurant were losing money because of a public boycott, then consideration of possible changes to corporate philosophy might be deemed necessary. After all, if the business can't keep enough consumers happy, then it will soon be out of business.
Chick-fil-A's actions are certainly going to raise the ire of traditional marriage supporters across the country, but at least if Chick-fil-A's response were consumer driven, it would be more understandable. But these actions were government driven, and that is just plain scary. The government essentially told a business how to act and how to behave in order for that business to be ALLOWED to set up shop. Chick-fil-A complied.
This is America, right? Businesses should succeed and fail based on how well they satisfy consumers. The success of a business should NOT be based on whether it has the blessing of government officials. This should have EVERYONE, including the media, outraged. What's next... government saying what soft drinks can be sold and at what sizes? Oh wait...