If I hear one more person say that he or she is supporting Chick-fil-A because "This is a First Amendment issue," I'm going to jump out of one of the Huffington Post's fifth-floor windows and swan dive into oncoming traffic.
It seems I can't open Twitter or look at Facebook or read a website without hearing that refrain. It was the chant of many of the Chick-fil-A fans who were in attendance yesterday at "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," which was dreamt up by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee to support "freedom of speech" and President and COO Dan Cathy's right to believe that gay people do not deserve to get married (or -- if you want to dress it up -- "shouldn't be able to redefine traditional marriage"). But make no mistake -- this is not about the First Amendment.
I fully support Cathy's right to say whatever he wants (and, in fact, so does the ACLU). But just because someone can say something doesn't mean they should -- or that we should celebrate him or her for doing so, especially when what they're saying is, at its core, promoting a culture of hate against a group of people.
I have a hard time believing that there would be lines around the block at Burger King if its CEO gave an interview where he or she stated, "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage... black and white people should not be allowed to get married,'" and had also donated millions of dollars to white supremacist organizations.
Similarly, if the head of Taco Bell came out and said, "I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about -- women should be the property of their husbands and anything otherwise is against traditional marriage," I don't think we'd see food courts packed with folks rabidly demanding 10-packs of tacos.
So why is it different when it comes to queer people? For some reason this country still thinks that it's OK to treat us like we are, at best, just not quite as worthy to have all the rights afforded straight or cis-gendered people or, at worst, just plain evil. Many of these statements are bolstered by religious arguments using the Bible as ammunition, but, as it's been pointed out time and again, the Bible demands we do or don't do a lot of things that we no longer do or don't do (like that we should own slaves and we shouldn't eat popcorn shrimp), and Jesus himself never uttered a single word about being queer (and if he wanted us all to be "traditionally married" so badly, you'd think the guy himself would have gotten married).
This is about a lot more than just marriage. It's about the millions of dollars that Chick-fil-A has donated to anti-gay and anti-trans groups who are working tirelessly to ensure that we never receive the same protections and rights that straight and cis-gendered people receive simply for being born non-queer (and who are in some instances endeavoring to "cure" queer people of their sexuality/gender identities).
When you buy food from Chick-fil-A, you're basically saying, "Here, take this money and see to it that queer people can not only not get married, but that they also can't adopt, can be fired simply for their sexuality and/or gender identity and continue to live in a society where they are regularly terrorized, mutilated, murdered and driven to suicide." Because that is what these groups do.
I, too, am in love with the First Amendment, and I want everyone to have the right to say whatever they want -- even if it's totally bonkers. But do I have to sit around and take it? Nope. And I sure as hell don't have to give those people my money to use against me. And neither do you.
So the next time someone says to you, "This is a First Amendment issue," or, "Chick-fil-A isn't anti-gay, it's just pro-traditional marriage," send them a link to one of the heartbreaking stories we feature on Gay Voices on a daily basis. Might I suggest the recent one about the lesbian in Nebraska who had the word "dyke" carved into her skin and her house set on fire? Or maybe they'd prefer to read the story of one of the LGBT teens who have killed themselves because they couldn't take the non-stop abuse inflicted upon them or just didn't see how they could function in a world that is so agonizingly anti-LGBT. Because that is exactly what Chick-fil-A is using its freedom of speech and its customers' dollars to support.
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Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly identified Huckabee as governor of Arizona. This has been corrected.