Last week, it was argued in this newspaper that eating at Chick-fil-A is incompatible with supporting LGBTQ rights. I am personally very much in support of LGBTQ rights and the legalization of same-sex marriage. The notion that two people who love each other are unable to enjoy the same rights as couples of a different sexual orientation is one that is both unfortunate and, in my view, demonstrably unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
At the same time, I very much enjoy eating Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwiches and their legendary waffle fries. Are these two things incompatible? By eating at Chick-fil-A, am I not supporting my LGBTQ friends and relatives? Am I actually anti-LGBTQ? Let’s take a moment to dissect these ideas.
In 2011, Chick-fil-A had a total profit of over $4 billion in sales. Of that profit, $3.6 million, or 0.09% was donated to what can be considered anti-gay organizations. That same year, Chick-fil-A also donated millions of dollars to charitable causes, including children’s hospitals, foster homes across the country, and scholarships for their employees to attend college.
This raises the question: if by boycotting Chick-fil-A we are supporting LGBTQ rights, are we at the same time anti-children and anti-education? Of course not. I don’t believe that by buying a product from a company, I automatically subscribe to all the political beliefs of the owner of that company. Rather, I am simply purchasing a product that I enjoy. If Chick-fil-A itself were a hate group, this would be a different story. However, Chick-fil-A has repeatedly reaffirmed that the “culture and service tradition in [its] restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”
I believe that it is important that we separate companies’ practices and the products that they sell from their politics. Instead of boycotting Chick fil-A, why not sit down with someone who disagrees with you on LGBTQ rights and initiate a respectful dialogue? This seems like a much more effective way to advance the issue than worrying about where one half of one cent of your chicken sandwich might be going.
Sean Solis is a senior majoring in political science and classics.