Stoffa: Protesting Chick-fil-A is not harming or changing its operation

Gabriel Stoffa

Dear protesters of Chick-fil-A,

You lost.


Those paying attention


Now, don’t misunderstand me, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s comments about homosexuality are asinine relics left over from a time of ignorance, but they are his opinion.

With that in mind, all of the people out there protesting the restaurant either in person or as Facebook and Twitter updates are doing more damage than good. I admire your efforts to make change, and I do not think protesting bigots is bad, but it didn’t work this time so move on to the next opportunity.

In response to the outrage some folks had over Cathy’s religious-based dislike of homosexuality, those folks that agree with homosexuality being bad flocked to Chick-fil-A for appreciation day. Lines appeared around corners to make sales boom while like-minded politicians and celebrities popped up to grab media attention.

And the increased sales aren’t going to stop there, at least until this seeps out of the news cycle. You see, Chick-fil-A is now something interesting to talk about, so people will continue to go as a personal statement, as muddled as that statement might be. And in the end, a lot of folks offering protest support online will forget and go back to eating that chicken.

And here is the worst part for all those protesting Chick-fil-A: You actually got some of the real haters and uber-devout, Bible-thumping, if-it-is-different-than-us-destroy-it tinfoil hatters more attention to infect those that were previously just kind of homophobic but didn’t have an outspoken opinion.

Seriously, for all of you out there rallying to the cry of equality for all, realize that you are not changing any minds by trying to keep a Chick-fil-A from opening or serving chicken in your area.

Same-sex marriage is logical because marriage has diddly-squat to do with religion, or the marriages, of other people — but that doesn’t matter here. What matters is someone expressed an opinion and people aren’t understanding that you generally cannot change the minds of the devout.

Chick-fil-A has homosexual men and women working for it. Before the recent protesting began, those folks did their jobs and didn’t have to deal with this hot-potato issue on any level that they do currently while working.

But now, you have people coming up in line and voicing hatred for homosexuals to the employees as points of casual conversation. And I mean really, who on Earth that has worked in fast food ever actually wanted to have to hear anything but a customer’s order; it isn’t as if anything worthwhile was going to be communicated between the ordering of the clog-your-arteries junk.

Gabriel Aguiniga, a homosexual employee at a Chick-fil-A in Colorado, said the hardest part has been “constantly having people come up to you and say, ‘I support your company, because your company hates the gays,'” according to a Huffington Post article.

In the same article, Katie, an openly homosexual employee in the greater New Orleans area, said, “Now, anyone that works there [Chick-fil-A] is stuck with a stigma of being homophobic, even when many of us are far from it,” when before that stigma did not exist despite Chick-fil-A’s Christian leanings.

Despite the comments being made by customers, and the opinions voiced by Cathy, employees at Chick-fil-A are encouraged to remain polite and tell customers, “Thank you for your business.”

See, Cathy doesn’t care what protesters think about homosexuality so long as money continues to come in and Chick-fil-A’s corporate mission to “glorify God,” as presented proudly on a plaque at company headquarters, is upheld.

And what if the protesters got Chick-fil-A to go out of business. Wouldn’t that mean a bunch of people had to lose their jobs so absolutely no legal change to the situation of same-sex marriage occurred? Seems pretty silly to me.

To further make things ridiculous, government discrimination occurred against Chick-fil-A during attempts to build new businesses during this controversy.

In an interview with the Boston Herald, Boston’s mayor, Thomas Menino, said, “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city; we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion. … If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies.”

Menino has since recanted his statement of desire to prevent Chick-fil-A from expanding: “I can’t do that. That would be interference to his [Cathy’s] rights to go there [to Boston].”

Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A released a statement concerning its encouragement of biblically-based business principles, such as closing on Sundays to encourage church attendance and family time, and company meetings and retreats that include prayers:

“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

WinShape Foundation, created by the Cathy family, has donated millions of dollars to outside organizations that work to keep same-sex marriage and homosexual acceptance from becoming a reality. Yet Chick-fil-A managers follow the law and hire homosexuals.

It is true that Chick-fil-A has a history of asking those applying for operator licenses about marital status and religious habits, but as independent contractors they are not necessarily bound by discrimination laws. Although Chick-fil-A has been sued at least 10 times on charges of employment discrimination, because employees may still sue under the law.

It would appear Chick-fil-A hiring standards are in line with employee discrimination for the most part; though whether that is fear of legal action or understanding by franchisers, we cannot know. But there are openly homosexual employees and non-Christians manning the friers and front counter, so Cathy’s religious views don’t get to define company practice.

So, what are protesters trying to change? Is it how the money is spent by some of those that profit from Chick-fil-A?

In an interview with Fox News, Sarah Palin said, “Calling for that boycott has a chilling effect on our First Amendment rights. … [Cathy] merely voiced his personal opinion about supporting traditional definition of marriage.”

I love taking pot-shots at Palin the same as any pundit, but she sounds reasonable there. Maybe, just maybe, this Chick-fil-A protest is a poor decision considering protesters are fighting an opinion, rather than working to change government to alter business practice standards.

Cathy can have whatever opinion he wants, and the franchisers can have a Christian slant if it pleases them. That is how private industry works — you get to decide to open essentially any type of legal business you want to cater to the desires of particular people.

Even PETA is trying to cash in on the protesting of Chick-fil-A by showing up at locations and calling attention to the “cruelty to chickens as well as its anti-gay stance,” according to a Los Angeles Times article.

I mean come on protesters, if you have PETA using you to try and gain positive attention, you know you are doing things wrong.

Protesting can cause many positive, progressive things to happen, but sometimes you have to realize you lost and work from where your last success left off. Much like the Occupy movement that faltered so greatly without central leadership and its attempt to instigate change, the Chick-fil-A protesting is lacking a realistic goal.

Chick-fil-A is not going to go out of business or even decide not to continue expanding. Cathy is not going to change his tune for potential franchisers. People are going to continue to be unnecessarily frightened of homosexual lifestyles because it conflicts with their religious teachings; and those kiss-ins scheduled are just strengthening the intolerant resolve.

If Chick-fil-A or its controllers begin funneling funds to directly support violence against homosexuals, then rally to your government to raze the buildings and leave only a sad memory.

But if funds from the business go, in part, to support other organizations using First Amendment rights to express an opinion, understand the hypocrisy of hating on them, as lots of other restaurants use funds to support same-sex marriage organizations — Applebees, Red Lobster and McDonald’s to name a few — and you don’t see Bible-adhering groups protesting those.