October 3, 2012 at 5:20 pm EDT | by Mark Lee
Chick-fil-A squawking is egg on our face

Chick-fil-A corporate management is on the wrong side of history when it comes to the inevitability of civil marriage equality and full equal rights for gays and lesbians.

Unfortunately, a decidedly shrunken number of errant politicians and LGBT organizations stubbornly remain on the wrong side of constitutional law and regulatory fairness regarding the restaurant chain.

A still shrill few continue to misguidedly advocate for the blatant infringement of basic business operating protections by decree of either local governments or college campus administrators. Merely due to the beliefs and beneficiaries, not discriminatory actions, of the owners of a particular company being considered repugnant.

Worse, as current developments attest, these business opponents appear to now be mostly concerned with saving face. What they are actually doing is putting egg on ours.

It’s a wrong-headed strategy – and without an end in sight.

They need to stop.

Increasingly isolated, prohibition proponents bring discredit to the equality struggle, confuse and anger the public, reveal an intrinsic disrespect for business rights, alienate allies and create unnecessary enemies. There is no benefit to distracting from a discussion of our lives, our stories and our fair and equal treatment under the law.

Fewer than one in 16 LGBT voters support the notion that it is appropriate or legal for a local government to threaten to ban or to prohibit a company from conducting business based solely on the political opinions or contributions of the company or its owners, according to a recent Harris poll. Only six percent of LGBT voters and three percent of the general population support such business prohibitions.

However, one Chicago politician and some LGBT groups, including a handful of college organizations promoting campus food service bans, appear not to have gotten the message.

You can’t blame Chicago alderman Joe Moreno and the Chicago-based LGBT advocacy group The Civil Rights Agenda for attempting to change the discourse dynamic. Moreno, representing the Windy City’s Logan Square neighborhood where the restaurant chain plans to open a location, sparked a wave of ill-advised pronouncements in late July by other politicians joining him in pledging to use government authority to block the permitting of the business in their jurisdictions.

When those politicians in cities across the country – including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – began quickly retracting their statements once public reaction interceded and government attorneys intervened, Moreno became largely isolated in his legally offensive stance.

An objective reading of Moreno’s tenuous-toned but self-congratulatory announcement last week declaring that Chick-fil-A had agreed to cease all contributions to anti-gay organizations proved to have as many holes in it as the eatery’s famous waffle fries. Within a day or two, it became clear that no such agreement had been reached.

In response, Moreno cackled a claim of dishonesty and betrayal by the business. Posturing as the aggrieved victim in an effort to change the storyline, he appeared either gullible or disingenuous.

Moreno has reverted to threatening denial of the required licensing necessary for the Chick-fil-A outlet to open, utilizing the inordinate influence of a city alderman in such matters. The Civil Rights Agenda supports his indefensible regulatory pose.

Chick-fil-A is not accused of discriminating against its LGBT employees or customers, or flouting local anti-discrimination laws. The company’s corporate financial support of organizations promoting anti-gay policies is the sole complaint.

If you don’t want to support Chick-fil-A, don’t spend your money there. Due to pandering politicians and the misdirected mission of LGBT organizations, we now need to demonstrate that we understand the difference between banning and boycotting a business.

What’s good for the goose needs to be good for the chicken. Otherwise, we sanction the imposition of unfair and illegal business restrictions against companies supporting LGBT equality. The shoe has got to fit when put on the other foot.

Freedom of speech matters most when it is difficult to defend. Public persuasion is our most effective tool, not the tyranny of proprietor prohibition.

There is no valor in an ultimate victory built on the vanquishing of liberty for those who disagreed along the way.

Mark Lee is a local small business manager and long-time community business advocate. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

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