Is Chick-fil-A Anti-Gay? And if so, Should You Not Eat There?


Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit points to a story at Tax Prof Blog about Northeastern University's decision to bar the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A from that fine institution's campus.

Why the exclusion? On the basis of some of its charitable giving, Chick-fil-A is considered to be anti-gay by the gay rights group Equality Matters. Among the groups that raise ire are outfits such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Focus on the Family, The Family Resource Council, and Exodus International. Certainly some of these groups talk often about pushing back on what they consider "the homosexual agenda" that has continued to spread like chlymidia despite the cancellation of Will & Grace some years ago. Exodus International is a leading "pray away the gay" outfit.

The giving to such groups is done from the privately owned Chick-fil-A's nonprofit WinShape. The head of the chicken outfit writes to the Boston Globe:

Our agenda is simple: to graciously serve great food and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A. This is the reason why we were initially invited to the campus….

I want to assure you that the historical intent of our Foundation and corporate giving have been toward compassion, principally by serving youth and families…. As some have looked back at the public giving records of the WinShape Foundation, they have unfortunately misinterpreted this support as having a political agenda, largely referencing any religious or faith-based giving as "anti-gay." For example, if you take the example of FCA, and ask us what was the purpose of the giving, it was to support inter-city mentors and chaplains for schools and colleges primarily here metro Atlanta. Those monies have been labeled as "anti-gay" because of the affiliation with a faith-based organization.

Full statement here.

A student at Ohio's Bowling Green State University, which barred Chick-fil-A from its campus over similar concerns, argues

Saying Chick-fil-A is anti-gay for donating to a religious organization is like saying someone supports domestic violence because they paid to see a Mel Gibson movie.

There's some truth to that: Many Christian groups are going to be at least theologically uncomfortable with homosexuality because such concerns are part and parcel of what they believe. But it's also an oversimplification at the very least in this case since at least some of the groups are reasonably called anti-gay. The student notes that these groups got very little in donations from WinShape, which could be a mitigating factor in any decision.

But here are questions for libertarians on a Friday morning:

1. Do you think Chick-fil-A's giving is in fact "anti-gay?" Focus on the Family, Eagle Forum, Family Resource Council, Exodus International: These groups do spend a hell of a lot time jawboning about teh gayz and all the evils of the world they represent (whether they call for legal sanctions against full equality under the law for gays and lesbians is a related but separate issue and arguably more important from a libertarian angle).

2. If a restaurant gives money to causes you don't like, does it make sense to stop patronizing it? Earlier this week, I noted that Ben & Jerry's not only dished up what some hyperbolic commentators called "a pint of racism" by including fortune cookie bits in its Jeremy Lin ice cream tribute. Is that—or Ben & Jerry's generous giving to Occupy Wall Street—worth saying goodbye forever to Cherry Garcia (itself a potentially controversial flavor)?

Back when I was in grad school, nobody would buy Domino's pizza because it supposedly refused to include fetuses among its toppings (my classmates wouldn't buy it, but nobody ever turned down free food when offered; I'm pretty sure that even Emma Goldman would have eaten Oysters Rockefeller if she didn't have to pay for them).

Libertarians believe in "disciplining through the market"—in refusing to do business with folks who annoy you or freak your shit as a means of making a statement about issues that go beyond any particular economic exchange. Is the Chick-fil-A ban a modern-day instance of that? Or is it political correctness run amok? How much do we need to know—or should we try to learn—about the vendors in our lives?

And finally: Why am I jonesing for chicken for lunch today and it's not even 10am?

As always, Seinfeld has answers to everything, especially when it comes to the most contentious issues of the day and the proper libertarian approach.