The Great Chick-Fil-A Dust-Up Of 2012 has now thankfully receded, leaving behind a trail of posters, fast food wrappers, and empty mascara containers. In the aftermath, there are lessons to be learned. For those of you that were mercifully spared the breathless media play-by-play – “Well Bob, it looks like we have some hot Baptist on Gay action here at the chicken shop…” – a short recounting is in order.
Chick-Fil-A peddles fast food chicken. It’s Southern Baptist CEO, Dan Cathy, had the temerity to note publicly that he opposes gay marriage. He doesn’t oppose hiring gay people nor does he oppose serving them in his shops, he just doesn’t want them married when they do show up. He went on to say that Chick-Fil-A is not, as such, a “Christian company” but rather that he seeks to run it on Biblical principles. Among the values he dared to espouse was that the “Biblical” notion of marriage was one man and one woman.
The gay, multicultural, accepting, tolerant, inclusive, sensitive, socially just community went … umm … batcrazy. They immediately swung into action to initiate everything from boycotts to “kiss ins” on the various premises of Chick-Fil-A. They were promptly joined by all manner of leftists, politically correct elites, earnest young people, and politicians. The esteemed mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, threatened to deny Chick-Fil-A zoning permits to expand into his city because they did not share “Chicago values” – In a multicultural, accepting, tolerant, inclusive, sensitive, and socially just manner, of course. (And here I thought Chicago values meant sustaining over 1000 murders per year, but what do I know?)
The hissing and the spitting (and the kissing, let’s not forget the kissing) went on for a bit until two things became clear: 1) There were way more cultural and religious supporters for fast food chicken than there was gay opposition. 2) Most of the rest of us didn’t care all that much. As a tactical matter, pro-gay marriage crowd acted really stupidly. One wonders how they would have felt had, say, a Southern Baptist minister stomped into a gay bar and begun thundering away at their sexual practices? One does not win hearts and minds by being an ass. This is all the moreso the case when one is in a tiny, and often ridiculed, minority. There’s a way to make the argument for gay marriage with some class. This wasn’t it.
The whole business does lead one to ponder the dynamics of the whole gay marriage debate. First, though, we need to clear something up. Mr. Cathy’s position on gay marriage is debatable and is right- or wrong depending on which way you swing (so to speak). But his definition of “Biblical marriage” is pretty much wrong. One of the common forms of marriage throughout both the Hebrew Bible up to, and including the Christian era was … polygamy. So much so, that in 1 Timothy, we are enjoined to only consider men with one wife as candidates for deaconhood. Clearly, such a rule wouldn’t have been necessary in a “one man, one woman” marital culture. (I, for one, am eternally grateful that we have moved to monogamy insofar as I don’t think I could stand more than one woman telling me I’m wrong all the time, but I digress.)
What is pretty much indisputable is that both the Hebrew and Christian Bibles do roundly condemn homosexuality as immoral, unnatural, an abomination and so forth. Any other reading of these texts requires a Jacques Derrida level of disconnection from Reality and common sense. So, if anything, Mr. Cathy should have stuck to the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality – which clearly would also forbid gay marriage – rather than trying to invent a fictional history of straight marriage.
About 2-3% of the population is homosexual. (The oft-heard 10% figure is a complete fiction by Kinsey et al . They contrived this number using lousy experimental technique, most notably by not using a statistically valid random sample population to study.) But we live in a country that values individual liberty and we like to think we defend the rights of small minorities like this. Government is supposed to of-, by-, and for the people. The last time I checked, homosexuals are part of “the people”. They too should be entitled to full service from their government. “Separate but equal” never is, and the gay community’s demand that they receive the same government service everyone else does is reasonable and fair. So, when you stop and think about it, it is outrageous that the government confers some privileges to certain classes of citizens and not others.
Then again, is this really all that surprising? For the better part of 80 years the intellectual and political left has been busy creating categories of citizens to feed the engine of identity politics. People of different races, economic status, and gender are granted varying degrees of protection or assault in all manner of things from taxation, to employment, to entitlement benefits. Is it any wonder that the latest cause to belly up to the I’m Special Bar are gays? It pays to be a victim. The truth is that the left, especially, does not want “equal rights”. It wants supersized rights for select groups of people in exchange for the votes of those people.
And that is where the wheels come off in this conversation. Even the most ardent anti-gay marriage folks do not believe that gay people should be oppressed, killed, hung in the public square or otherwise persecuted. The real fear is that recognition of gay marriage – particularly at the Federal government level – will create a corresponding new EEOC category and a new “protected class” of citizen with … supersized rights. If this happens, that means Mr. Cathy and people like him will be forced to hire gay people and forced to grant them same sex partner benefits in direct contravention of their religious beliefs. And, it’s a reasonable fear. Just this year, we’ve seen the Obama administration jam their views down the throat of Roman Catholic institutions in direct violation of their moral and religious beliefs. The only church that the Obama people appear to respect is the Church Of State.
This terrifies both religious conservatives like Mr. Cathy and freedom affirming libertarians like me. A free society is, of necessity, pluralistic. It requires that everyone enjoy precisely the same level of freedom and a government that defends it equally for all its citizens. The same liberty that enables gay people to enter into a marital contract before the law, should also be the liberty granted people like Mr. Cathy to not recognize such unions. Freedom means having to put up with people you don’t like or with whom you fundamentally disagree.
But don’t you dare say any of this in a room full of multicultural, accepting, tolerant, inclusive, sensitive, and socially just lefties. You’re likely to get run out of town for your “intolerance” … and you won’t get kissed first.