There are three possible reasons why you visited a restaurant that has made it clear that its leadership does not like gay people. (And please; no dithering over the difference between opposing gay marriage and not liking gay people. You either support our right to live with dignity or you don’t. If you don’t, you cannot claim to support us.)
The first possibility is that you are unaware of the firestorm that Dan Cathy caused when he finally, and forcefully, reiterated his and his company’s opposition to gay marriage. For any of you who fall into this category, please educate yourself, but continue reading. Ignorance of the issue does not absolve you of your guilt.
The second possibility is that you actively despise, or do not care about, gay people. You may not like the word “despise”. You may prefer to think that you’re just “uncomfortable” with us. Or you’d rather us not be around your kids. Or you’d rather that we just keep quiet and not shove our orientations in your face. But make no mistake. You despise us. Dan Cathy’s expression of intolerance for us living our lives with dignity resonated with you because you don’t want us to live our lives with dignity. You want us to remain hidden, so that you don’t have to see us being ourselves. You don’t want to see two daddies playing in the park with the daughter they’re raising together. You don’t want to see two women showing affection for one another because it creeps you out. Or because you believe it’s a sin, and you just can’t handle the idea of someone sinning near you.
The third possibility is that you have not thought your position through very well. You couch your support of Chick-Fil-A in First Amendment terms. Or you claim that you want to support a business that is proudly standing up for their values. Or you believe that boycotts harm the employees of businesses more than their leaders. Or you feel that gay people have been more intolerant of Chick-Fil-A than Chick-Fil-A has been of gay people. Or you believe that, while the leaders of the organization may be anti-gay, the employees have done nothing wrong.
All of these justifications for visiting Chick-Fil-A are wrong. If you believe them, that’s your right, but you need to realize that you have not thought your position through. You have stopped short and come to the wrong conclusion. You are either someone who secretly despises (or does not care about) gay people but don’t feel comfortable admitting it, or you are an ally who is accidentally working against us.
All of these justifications seem to target a particular sense of fairness. You may feel that you are noble because you see past the initial offense, or you may feel like you are being fair by not taking sides. You are wrong. I believe that Chick-Fil-A has every right to conduct itself however it wants. I believe in Dan Cathy’s right to say whatever hateful, bigoted thing he wants. I would take a bullet for his right to continue to do so. However, patronizing his business does *not* reinforce that you believe in his right to say stupid or hateful things. It reinforces that those beliefs are so inconsequential to you that you can overlook them. His expression of his desire to force my partner and me to remain unmarried has so little weight with you that you’d rather give his company money than take a principled stance against what he said. In essence, you’re not expressing solidarity with his right to free speech (a right which was never under attack in the first place); you’re expressing your lack of solidarity with the group Chick-Fil-A dislikes. Which means that you dislike us.
This is why, to my mind, if you visit Chick-Fil-A at all from this point forward, and especially if you visited yesterday, you either actively dislike gay people or you have not thought your position through. There is no other possibility. And again, saying that you “support gay people” but “don’t support gay marriage” is a complete falsehood. You either support our right to live with the dignity and rights we deserve, or you don’t support us at all. You can’t claim some mythical middle ground any more.