Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Chick Fil A" remarks on marriage opens a pandora's box of ethical and maybe legal problems


Dan Cathy, president of the “Chick Fil A” fast food chain, says his company has always been supportive of the traditional family.

So he says he’s “guilty as charged” in a Baptist Press interview here.
  
That brought a lot of protests from the gay community, according to Tiffany Hsu of the Los Angeles Times, here

But now, according to Reuters, the mayors of Boston and Chicago say that the chain is no longer welcome in their respective cities, link.  

I was having dinner this evening, on the way back from a trip, at the Frost Diner in Warrenton, VA, and overheard a debate at the counter over whether the mayors are out of line.  The man, implying (or saying) he was a purist libertarian, said that in this country corporate presidents, like anyone else, should enjoy freedom of speech without incurring the wrath of local politicians.  (By the way, the Frost Diner has been there forever.  In April, 1961, I had breakfast there with some high school friends on the way to my first Shenandoah hike.)

The discussion in the restaurant did not “go there” with gun control and Colorado, but it did get into the area as to whether average citizens have a responsibility to go to the police directly (outside a workplace chain of command) in Sandusky-like situations.  It was a lively dinner debate indeed, in a small “conservative” Virginia town.

While eating, I also remembered the flap over Cracker Barrel “Ole Country Store”, which had the habit of firing gay employees and bragging about it in the mid 1990s until exposed by ABC.  I’ve eaten at that chain just once that I can remember, in December 1996, on the way back from a “field” trip to the Greenbrier to research a small matter for my first DADT book. 

So, we have libertarians saying that the market place will fix discrimination by itself, while the gay lobby insists that ENDA is necessary.  ENDA, remember, was first introduced in 1993.

As for the president of “Chick Fil A”: there’s another reason for caution on making public statements on controversial social issues.  It could, in some circumstances, lead to hostile workplace claims.  I written a lot before on my blogs and websites about this implicit “conflict of interest” problem.

Note that the "gay couple" issue has affected accommodations, too.  A few bed-and-breakfasts around the country have refused to rent to them, usually invoking a media response.  Some, perhaps most, have then relented. 

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