Daily Israel Report

Chicken Chain Revives Social Issue In US 2012 Election

The underlying religious divide has been highlighted by the fight over the right of a chicken chain owner to oppose same-sex marriage.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 7/29/2012, 12:16 PM

Mayor Menino
Mayor Menino
Reuters

While it is generally acknowledged that the United States 2012 presidential elections will be decided on the issue of economics, the American divide on social issues is one of the issues that remain just below the surface. The last time it broke above the surface occurred when President Barack Obama endorsed same-sex marriage and his opponent Mitt Romney disagreed.

Now, thanks to a chicken restaurant chain Chick-fil-A, the issue has resurfaced. Chick-fil-A is based in the South, but has lately been expanding to other parts of the country. It is a family owned firm and the owner and CEO Dan Cathy is a devout Christian. The store branches close on Sunday because the clientele is expected to be in church.

Not unsurprisingly, Dan Cathy is a supporter of traditional marriage and has donated generously to organizations that promote traditional marriage. In a recent interview, Dan Cathy pleaded" guilty" to supporting "the biblical definition of a family." Later on, he claimed that the US was courting divine retribution to go against the biblical concept of marriage.

This has made Chick-fil-A and Dan Cathy into "public enemy number one" for gays and lesbians who are mobilizing to demonstrate against the chain and prevent the opening of new branches. Politicians got into the act and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino tried to prevent the opening of a branch in Boston. In an interview with the Boston Herald, Menino stated that Chick-fil-A would have a hard time getting a license. Menino later backtracked because he realized that such a position was legally unenforceable.

The chain made it clear that it did not discriminate in hiring employees or in serving customers based on their sexual propensities and that the CEO was merely stating his religious beliefs. The attack on the chain has mobilized Christian conservatives - Mike Huckabee, as well as Rick Santorum, who unsuccessfully competed for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012, respectively, led a counterattack. They are trying to organize a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day where people will make a point of patronizing the chain. Huckabee wrote on Facebook "I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick Fil-A company because the CEO, Dan Cathy, made comments recently in which he affirmed his view that the Biblical view of marriage should be upheld.”.

Santorum claimed that the issue highlighted liberal hypocrisy, “It is sad that liberal groups call for tolerance, yet they are vicious in their intolerance when someone disagrees with them."