Opinion: I Support Chick-fil-A Because of the First Amendment

Friday, August 03, 2012 - 12:36 PM

I have a confession to make that may hurt my standing as a true-blue conservative. And no, it's not that I'm for gay marriage, which I am. It's that I've been to Chick-fil-A one time, in Georgia, and didn't like it at all. Everyone in my office were big fans and I was excited to try the best chicken sandwich (and waffle fries) in the known universe. I found that fast food is fast food, no matter how much "better" it is than other fast food (the exception to this rule - obviously - being In-n-Out burgers).

The Chick-fil-A controversy was awkward for me at first because of the two reasons above: I'm a conservative, yes, but I don't like the food and, oh yeah, I'm fine with gay people marrying (a third issue is that I hate companies getting involved in politics at all but this seems unavoidable these days).

But then something happened which put me firmly in the Chick-fil-A camp and opposite my natural "side" on this issue. Elected officials decided to flex their democracy granted muscles to threaten Chick-fil-A with banishment from their cities - and this I could not abide. Mayors in Boston, Chicago and, our very own follower Christine Quinn, who hopes to be the next mayor of NYC, openly threatened a private business for having the wrong opinions.

So many anti-Chick-fil-A people say "this is not about the First Amendment" but I can assure everyone reading this that for me, and for many other people, it's specifically IS about the first amendment. The first amendment grants us freedom of speech. Sometimes people misinterpret this to mean that they can say anything they want with no repercussions. That's not so.

Had Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy's comments merely led to a boycott of his businesses by private citizens, that would not be a violation of his freedom of speech. However, when government officials threatened to harm the business because of what he said that was, indeed, a violation.

There are always going to be businesses who support causes with which you disagree. I really liked the soap company Lush some years back but then I started reading about how they support groups I consider anti-Israel, my most hot-button issue, and that was the end of my lotion and bath-bomb buying at Lush. I stopped shopping there.

But I didn't think they should be shut down, I didn't think the mayor should kick them out of our city or do anything to stop new stores from opening. The idea that anyone would ban them would enrage me. If that were to happen I would likely return to shopping there because I support freedom above all else and the freedom to say what you want, and use your money as you want, are principal to me.

So I get it, why people lined up to support Chick-fil-A, and maybe if I liked the food, and there was more than one location in NYC, I would have too. No, the caricature of these people as bigots simply doesn't hold. Even if the buyers disapprove of gay marriage, that only makes them the same as president Obama six months ago.

Was he a bigot then? Was he a bigot when you voted for him in 2008? Much more likely is that many of the people saw the government intrusion the same way I did: completely unacceptable and something that needed to be answered.

Reasonable people can disagree on all the issues of the day. The moment the government butts into that, the same reasonable people on both sides must fight back. Our freedom depends on that.


More in:

Comments [10]

Et al from Elsewhere

What about the rights of the chickens who are killed every day to be served at Chick-a-fil?

Aug. 07 2012 08:48 PM
The Inventor from NY

Does no one understand the potential abuse of a government that can freely act against others based on moral policies?

Aug. 06 2012 02:53 PM

What if a state or city has an anti-discrimination policy which includes a ban on discrimination due to sexual orientation? Would a mayor/prosecutor be violating a company's first amendment rights by investigating said company's labor practices after said company announced its opposition to gay marriage?

As an aside, Karol, may i suggest you exercise your first amendment rights and petition your government over its decision to (allegedly) close down chick-fil-a rather than throw your money away on chicken sandwiches.

Aug. 06 2012 12:48 AM

If you support Chick-fil-A because of first amendment rights, then why not support the Ku Klux Klan? They exercise first amendment rights as well. Unfortunately both are based on hate and oppression.

Aug. 05 2012 09:08 PM
Peter Shelsky from Brooklyn

It actually has nothing to do with the first amendment. The fist amendment is clear: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

This has nothing to do with Congress. It is a few Mayors.

Aug. 04 2012 03:10 PM
Brandt Hardin from Nashville

If companies are people and people vote with dollars then the destination of the restaurant’s donations are open for public debate. It very well should be an issue as to where peoples’ hard-earned money goes after the chicken goes down their gullet. This issue has made our little feathered friend the modern martyr as Chick-fil-A laughs all the way to the bank. Watch the poultry be nailed to the cross and pierced by the spear of destiny at the hands of those devious cows on my artist’s blog at

Aug. 04 2012 12:16 PM

Karol -

We agree (for once.) As long as Chick-Fil-A is not violating law, it is inappropriate for the state to use any of its licensing authority to restrict their trade. Consumers should vote with their dollars over whether they want to eat there. I won't be eating there any time soon and neither, it seems, will you.

We disagree over whether Obama has gone from anti- to pro- gay marriage. Obama has gone from pro-civil union to pro-marriage. Using the word 'marriage' to refer to the civil ceremony and the religious ceremony is the locus of confusion for most Americans. Many think that if the two are functionally equivalent (like Dr. Howard Dean) why can't we use the "civil union" label and avoid the conflict. However, civil unions leave too much of settled matrimonial law in dispute for gay couples. Why should they have to litigate all of that BS in order to have their rights recognized?

"You didn't build that..."
"Obama was against gay marriage. Now he's for it."

What is it with the opposition that needs to create a strawman to knock down? Is it too hard to just run against the President's actual positions?

Aug. 04 2012 10:40 AM
Lou Alexander from San Jose, CA

The American Family Association has received millions in donations from Chick Fil A. The AFA is currently running boycotts against Sear, Home Deport, JC Penney and Office Depot....because..wait for it...these organizations support Gay Marriage and Gay Causes. Sorry to mix my poultry metaphors but what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander

Aug. 03 2012 11:06 PM
Karol from NYC

Admittedly my twitter feed isn't representative of...anything, really, but the great majority of people who participated in Chick-fil-A day had a problem with the free speech violation over anything else. Some of them are gay, most of them support gay marriage, a small percentage of them are against gay marriage and had that spring them to action.

What I wanted to point out, more than anything else, is that it isn't quite as cut+dried as "support gay marriage, boycott Chick-fil-A", "oppose gay marriage, support Chick-fil-A." There's a lot of opinion in between.

Aug. 03 2012 04:42 PM

Yes, the government has no business trying to prevent Chick-fil-a from operating in certain municipalites. Agree 100%. But I can both admonish and fight the government on that point and still participate in a boycott of Chick-fil-a because I don't agree on their stance on gay marriage. The two are not mutually exclusive.

But, to think that most of the people lining up at Chick-fil-a are going to support the case against government interference is completely naive. Most are going because they support anti-gay marriage viewpoints just like the bible told them to.

And yes, Obama was a bigot in 2008, though I didn't vote for him. It was cowardly for him to take that stance in order to get elected then, and shameful for him to only change his stance at a politically advantageous time recently.

Aug. 03 2012 02:35 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About It's A Free Blog

Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a blog, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Supported by

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public.  Learn more at



Supported by