Last week, at the beach with my family, I deliberately ignored all newspapers. Not for the reason most people do—because print is dead. But because whenever I’m surrounded by salt -water, steamed crabs, and even mediocre fishing, I tend to hold that true happiness is having no idea what chronically bothered people are talking about.
It never lasts. Civil war has a way of puncturing happiness bubbles. No, not the atrocities in Syria. I’m talking much hairier than your run-of-the-mill massacre: I’m talking about the Chick-fil-Gay wars. Ever since Chick-fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy, who is against gay marriage, dared offer that he supports “the biblical definition of the family unit,” the indignant have been manning their outrage stations.
There are boycotts and kiss-ins. D.C. mayor Vincent Gray, in a solemn Tweet, decried “hatechicken.” Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chick-fil-A has no place in his city. (And Emanuel has no place at the family-friendly Chick-fil-A—not with his potty mouth.) Emanuel intoned that “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values.” This was a breaking-news twofer, as most people weren’t aware that the graft-laden youth-homicide capital of the United States had any values.
My natural inclination is to encourage the boycott. Not because of my political views, but because I figure it will help me get through the drive-thru faster. Though it’s a tough call. For the controversy centers around three things I hold sacred: marriage, all God’s children (both straight and gay), and Chick-fil-A’s rapturous spicy-chicken sandwich. Not necessarily in that order. Because when you make that last a combo platter, with waffle fries and coleslaw, it’s no longer a contest.
For three decades now, Chick-fil-A has been my only appointment fast-food stop. I go there when hungry, and even when not. Always cleaner than the inside of a Clorox bottle, the restaurants are run with warmth and efficiency, and are ruthlessly dedicated to customer satisfaction—the best quick-service franchise in America. (Faltering Mayor Gray might want to spend less time denouncing Chick-fil-A, more time taking managerial notes.) At most chains, you’re just happy if they keep the rodent parts out of the condiments. But Chick-fil-A has gone so far as to use chipper seniors as greeters. Sunny septuagenarians now inquire if you need a free refill, or offer to retrieve napkins. They’re so helpful that I’ve kidnapped a few, taking them home to do yard work and light grandparenting.
Personally, I would never gay marry—my wife would be incensed.But neither do I feel it is my duty, Christian or otherwise, to obstruct those who wish to. While I strongly object to court-ordering churches to marry anyone against their doctrine, and though I was raised Southern Baptist like Chick-fil-A’s Cathy, I hold a laissez-faire attitude about gay marriage generally, not unlike that of the Jewish philosopher Kinky Friedman, who can’t see why gays shouldn’t “have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us.”
Still, while we’re talking tolerance, the last time I checked the Bill of Rights (around 1987), free speech was afforded to everyone—even born-again fried-chicken magnates who publicly express unfashionable opinions. And besides, it’s a personal opinion. No on-the-ground discrimination is alleged. If Adam and Steve walk into Chick-fil-A in their wedding tuxes, they’re still getting served the same Chick-fil-A nuggets as Adam and Eve. (I recommend the 12-piece to either couple, as opposed to the less filling 8-piece. At Chick-fil-A, more is more.)
The chickens themselves, it should be noted, are categorically straight—a good thing for both sides, since slaughtering gay chickens for consumption would amount to a hate crime. Besides, without steady chicken reproduction we’d all be eating lunch at home or, more perilously, at Taco Bell. But that said, I’ve never been asked by a Chick-fil-A cashier whether I would be willing to have exclusionary, heteronormative, Bible-approved procreative sex. Though I probably would, if they’d throw in one of their hand-spun milkshakes for free.
As in any debate, I’m choosing sides by asking the most important question: Who’s going to win? Polls suggest that acceptance of gay marriage is on the rise and is now a slight majority opinion. With that in mind, I’m joining my LGBT protester friends, though on my own terms. I am now boycotting Chick-fil-A—on Sundays only. Since Sunday is the Lord’s Day, on which they’re conveniently closed, maybe I’ll even forbid myself from eating Saturday’s leftovers.
Though it’s Chick-fil-A we’re talking about. So there’s not a chance there’ll be any.