Problem is, the controversy isn't going away. It's all over Facebook, and I'd really rather not be reminded of it. I don't like it rubbed in my face that my family's rights are even up for discussion because it's SO RIDICULOUS that they are up for discussion, that they are at all controversial. I don't know how many ways I can say this: we are SO not a threat. (Unless you are frightened by people who garden and knit. In that case, all bets are off.) Still, all these polls are floating around the world of social media asking my Facebook friends whether or not they'll eat at Chic-fil-a in light of the CEO's comments. While I'm sure that many people we know will continue to patronize the chain despite disagreeing with company's stance, I'd really rather not know about it. What I don't see won't hurt me. (Technically, the money spent there will hurt me a little bit, but the expense of an occasional Chic-fil-a visit is negligible.) But I do have to see it. For example, my desktop screen tells me that my cousin's wife, who is actually quite supportive of and loving toward us, has decided to continue eating at Chic-fil-a. My third grade teacher, whom I LOVE, shared an article about how Rev. Billy Graham (whom I used to admire greatly) is encouraging Christians to increase their patronage of Chic-fil-a in order to show their support of "traditional marriage". It SUCKS to be disappointed in your third grade teacher. I'll admit that it was refreshing and encouraging to see my mother declare, "I'll never eat there again," but I've not seen many people actually swear off the company.
And that may be okay. The world will not end. I know this because I get gas at Exxon. Yes, most of my fuel is purchased at a station owned by the first company ever to earn a negative score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. This means that Exxon not only does nothing to support gay rights, it actually takes actions to undermine equality. However, the Exxon I patronize is the gas station closest to my home, by far the easiest place to gas up if I need to refuel quickly on my way to work as well as the pit stop most on the beaten path when I'm headed home. If I'm out and about in a different area and have a choice, I will avoid Exxon. However, I still end up there at least every other week. Likewise, I ask for Lowe's gift cards each birthday and Christmas even though Home Depot is an expontentially more inclusive, GLBT-friendly company. It's just that Lowe's is right down the street from me and the closest Home Depot is nearly an hour away. I choose the easy road instead of the moral one. I think we all do from time to time. The point is, I am simply not in a position to begrudge anyone a chicken sandwich every now and again.
In the end, I think we all live by our beliefs in the best ways we know how. Voting with your dollar can be difficult. This is partly due to ignorance about where products come from and partly because, gosh darnit, we like our creature comforts. For instance, I purchase a lot of my food from local, sustainable farms and prefer farmers markets and small dry-goods stores over supermarkets. Still, despite my opposition to practices in the meat packing industry and mass food production in general, I like to stop at McDonald's on most road trips to get some too-sweet coffee and a package of salty fries. My stomach and conscience hurt a bit afterwards, but I do it anyway. I don't see this as any different from finding out that people who know and love Danielle and me also love Chic-fil-a sandwiches.
The positive thing about these controversies is that they force us to think a bit more creatively about how we put our beliefs into action while also co-existing with companies we have qualms with. We begin to stand up for our values in new and inventive ways. For example, perhaps it's okay to give in to a craving for Chic-fil-a nuggets if you then balance out the purchase with a comparable donation to the Human Rights Campaign (www.hrc.org). Think of it as the gay rights version of carbon neutrality. Maybe the solution is to decrease Chic-fil-a consumption (EAT LES CHIKN?) while becoming increasingly vocal when you hear anti-gay comments casually inserted into so-called polite conversation. Combating discrimination face-to-face is going to be more effective anyway.
A good friend of ours struck a great balance recently when she took her daughters to their local Chic-fil-a for Cow Appreciation Day. This is a day when you can get free food from the chain if you come in dressed up as a cow. She and her girls had already been busy planning their visit and costumes when she got wind of the company's donations to anti-gay organizations and general anti-gay stance. Well, she couldn't very well renege on a promise made to a kindergartener and preschooler. Still, she is one of our staunchest supporters and greatest cheerleaders and did not want to appear to condone the company's views. Instead, she brought her support of marriage equality into the restaurant right along with her two cute bovine impersonators. Here is a picture of the results. http://instagram.com/p/NBVyRkQeYp/
In the video below, Jackson Pearce offers not only an articulate argument against Chic-fil-a's support of "traditional marriage" but also provides an opportunity for action. Mike Huckabee has called for Chic-fil-a supporters to eat there on August 1st to show that they side with the fast food restaurant. Ms. Pearce suggests that people supporting GLBT rights should go Chic-fil-a that very same day to ask for a free water. This takes a few cents away from money that might otherwise be donated to anti-gay causes and also forces the company to follow the biblical directive of Proverbs 25:21: If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. I'm not particularly fond of confrontation, so I won't be participating in this particular protest, but maybe this type of creative dissent will work for you. Ms. Pearce is also boycotting the company from here on out. Maybe you will, too. I will, but that is the form of protest that works for me. Maybe you will continue to eat at Chic-fil-a but will wear a GLBT-supportive t-shirt each time you go to remind the company that you do not share their views, to make sure they don't forget that GLBT folks and our allies still exist.
As for me, I will try to go to Exxon less frequently. I don't think a total boycott is realistic, but perhaps I can cut my purchases in half. I will try to gas up at the station near my work even though it is at a funny intersection and requires a left turn. I hate left turns like nobody's business, but it turns out that I hate discrimination even more.
In the end, regardless of what actions we take and whatever opportunities we take to stand up for justice, it is my hope and prayer that we would be guided by a new kind of slogan: LUV MORE PEEPL.