I can choose if I get a Chick-fil-A.

All Americans have the right to their own opinions. It is wrapped up in those inalienable rights you learned about as you read the Declaration of Independence, and the First Amendment to the Constitution in school.  I believe you have the right to hold those opinions in both your private and professional life. However, there is no inalienable right that says you can force others to have the same viewpoints as you. You may proselytize, but have no right as a citizen of the United States to command others to share your views.

I do believe that we have the right to co-exist.

Recently, a man by the name of Dan Cathy, representing himself in the role of president of a fast food restaurant chain called Chick-fil-A, made his personal viewpoints around marriage publically clear.

"We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit," Cathy said to the Biblical Recorder newspaper -- in a story re-posted by Baptist Press, "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."

From what I can tell, he is not banning divorcees, or those who are not married to a member of the opposite sex from working in, or buying from his restaurants. He’s simply (and perhaps powerfully) using the pulpit of his position as a successful business owner to broadcast his beliefs.

And frankly, I’m glad he did. He helped me make a choice as to whether I will walk in for a Chick-fil-A Deluxe Chicken Sandwich or go next door to McDonald’s, or Popeye’s, or KFC.

We all have a choice as to with whom we do business with.

We judge businesses on their customer service; on the quality and price of the products they sell; and may I suggest to you, that we also have the option to judge businesses on their ethical and moral or political positions.

How many of us choose products based on whether they’re “Made in the U.S.” or if a company offers medical insurance to same-sex partners? I think more of us should (but that’s just my opinion).

Yes, we have the right to decide whether to do business with companies who espouse our own viewpoints, and we even have the right to do businesses with companies we DON’T agree with on moral, ethical, political grounds. 

After Mr. Cathy’s beliefs were made public, our country’s free press spread the word, and civil rights groups who believe differently than Mr. Cathy used their megaphones as well. And that’s good too, because the more we understand the beliefs of a brand, the better we all are to make decisions about where to buy that next chicken sandwich. 

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for same-sex marriage and other civil rights for the LGBT community, told the AP that Chick-fil-A "has finally come clean," he went on to say "While they may have been in neutral, kicking this fight into overdrive now allows fair-minded consumers to make up their own minds whether they want to support an openly discriminatory company," Griffin said in a statement. "As the country moves toward inclusion, Chick-fil-A has staked out a decidedly stuck-in-the-past mentality."

Cathy acknowledged to the Baptist Press that his stand may cost the company some customers. "We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles," he said.

In an attempt to control the damage of the negative press being generated my Mr. Cathy’s comments, Chick-fil-A spokesman Don Perry appeared to be trying to separate the president’s comments from the beliefs of the business. In a statement he said, "The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect -- regardless of belief, creed and sexual orientation," he said. "We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena."

Of course, the cat is already out of the bag on this one. And, my choices of chicken sandwich shops is better informed for it.

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