Lucky me, to be back in the U.S. in the middle of another battle in the “culture war.” Well, the odds were pretty good, weren’t they? And it’s an election year, oh boy.
Now, I’m not a person who flits off to Europe and suddenly decides everything is better over there. No way. They have their own prejudices, obsessions and culture wars that are no more rational than ours are. And their own very real issues with separation of church and state—or lack thereof. I suppose I might think differently if I had lived in Scandinavia, but that’s neither here nor there The point is, every culture has its quirks.
It’s just that after spending some time out of the country, you notice that our eccentricities tend to be more colorful than average. Like turning fried chicken into a political statement.
I don’t actually have a dog in this fight. I’m not gay, and I don’t even have any close friends or family members who are gay. But it bugs me just the same. Because there are a few things I do know.
People are different. Really different. Ask anyone with kids. Every one of us is a grab bag of physical and mental characteristics that we are born with. I’ve actually done some DNA testing for genealogy research, and I can tell you, it’s amazing how accurate these gene tests can be. From tolerance of caffeine, to blushing, to various personality attributes, there are a huge array of characteristics that can be predicted with reasonable accuracy from a blob of spit in a test tube.
It sure seems to me that gay people are born that way. I mean, when people “come out” it’s hardly ever a surprise, is it. (Anderson Cooper? Jane Lynch? Really?) Gaydar works pretty well. And, there have always been gay people (Alexander the Great? Richard the Lion Heart?)
Maybe one day scientists will find a gene for sexual preference. It wouldn’t surprise me if they did.
If people are, in fact, born gay, then discriminating against them is no different from discriminating against black or Hispanic people. Or women. Or people with green eyes. Or anything else that is simply a tiny variation on the human genome.
When our kids were very young, we idly wondered which team they would be on. We both thought it would be easier for them and us if they were straight, but that was about the extent of our concern (well, that, and having grandchildren!) It’s not like we thought we actually had any control over the issue. If one of them had been gay, we would have been worried in the knowledge that life would be more difficult for them due to prejudice and discrimination. No one wants their kid to have a hard time in life if they can help it.
As it turns out, they are both straight, but it is not hard to imagine myself as the parent of a gay child, and the battles I might have to fight for him or her under those circumstances. Is it really so hard for others to imagine themselves in that situation?
And another thing: if I am born straight, and someone else is born gay, then how does it threaten my marriage if they want to marry someone of the same sex? I just don’t get that. What does it have to do with me, any more than if a white person wants to marry a black person, or a blonde wants to marry a brunette? Seems to me that the only way any of this could threaten my marriage is if the person in question wants to marry my husband!
I also don’t get why so many people are so concerned about who other people sleep with. How is what happens between consenting adults anyone else’s business? How is it “conservative” to try and legislate other people’s love lives? That’s not conservative at all. It’s just plain nosy and interfering.
And the religion thing. You can believe whatever you like. If you don’t believe in contraception, don’t use it. If you don’t believe it’s moral be to gay, then don’t “be gay” (good luck with that.) You don’t have to have gay friends, or marry gay people in your church, either. But this isn’t a theocracy. You don’t get to decide that for other people.
Flip side, and equally important: this also means that other people don’t get to decide things for you. I know that there is some fear out there that Muslims will “take over” and impose sharia or whatever. Guess what? The same laws that protect you from having to wear a beard or a burqa are supposed to protect gay people from putting up with your nonsense. No, I am serious. This is actually how it works. Every single time you respect a person’s freedom not to obey your religion, you are helping to ensure your own religious freedom. Pretty cool system, isn’t it? Those founding fathers were onto something.
The owners of Chick-fil-A have taken this short-sighted self-righteousness to a new level. I would be the first to say that they are entitled to their opinion, obnoxious as it may be. No one can force them open their minds. But Chick-fil-A is also a business, and the profits from that business are contributed to some organizations that go beyond fighting gay marriage or mere disapproval of a “lifestyle choice.” I believe the word “hate” is overused nowadays, but it’s hard to find a better term for these organization’s activities. “Incredibly paranoid and intolerant” maybe?
Take James Dobson’s Family Research Council, for example, which actively attempts to block any legislation that would protect the rights of LGBT people. I mean really, what kind of people are so obsessed with other people’s love lives that they make a career out of trying to prevent them from having any kind of rights? That is just plain mean.
I don’t personally think that elected officials need to be involved in where Chick-fil-A donates its money, as long as everything is legal. It’s not their place to sound off about that. But we as private citizens can each choose whether to add our own money to the big chunks of Chick-fil-A profits that go toward advocating the restriction of other people’s rights for no other reason than sexual preference.
Would it be OK if Chick-fil-A donated to organizations that attempted to restrict the rights of people of color? Or women? Or left-handed people? Of course not. I don’t honestly see a difference.
The thing is, this is not about chicken, or free speech, or even only about gay marriage. It is, in the end, about deciding where your consumer dollars should be spent.
It is disappointing to me to see so many Americans lined up to “support” Chick-fil-A. In fact, I am not sure that they all understand the full extent of the activity that these organizations engage in. I know that there are plenty of “conservative” people who are not ready to accept gay marriage per se, but are certainly open to civil unions, rights of survivorship, and many other perfectly reasonable provisions that allow gay couples at least some degree of equality under the law. These are exactly the provisions that are strongly opposed by the Family Research Council—along with some other nuttiness about global warming denial, creationism as science, etc. Really, it is a crackpot organization, there is just no other way to put it.
So, when I see those long lines at Chick-fil-A on the news, I want to ask: do you people seriously understand what you are funding and what you are saying by your presence at this restaurant today? Really?
And by the way, you could actually be eating a gay chicken. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Not that the pipe actually means anything, you understand…