We are gathered here today to discuss two recent controversies about same-sex marriage. One comes from the world of pigskin, the other from the world of chicken fat.
You are surely familiar with the latter. It unfolded a few weeks ago over comments by Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A. In interviews with the Biblical Recorder newspaper and radio host Ken Coleman, he confirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage. “Guilty as charged,” he told the paper.
Cathy’s comments kicked off one of those only-in-America firestorms. Gay rights groups denounced the fast-food chain. Conservatives responded with a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, which reportedly drove the company to record sales. Gay rights activists held a “kiss-in” that was less successful. The mayors of San Francisco, Chicago and Boston criticized Dan Cathy’s views. Conservative pundits noted, correctly, that an elected official who seeks to punish an unpopular opinion tramples the First Amendment. The Jim Henson Co. withdrew its toys and merchandise from promotional deals with the restaurant chain.
And, oh yeah, some idiot carrying a bag filled with Chick-fil-A sandwiches walked into the Washington offices of the conservative Family Research Council where he shot and wounded a guard. “I don’t like your politics,” he reportedly said.
That’s a lot of furor over one man’s opinion. And you have to wonder why Dan Cathy’s views were news. Chick-fil-A’s conservative Christian orientation has been known for years — it supports groups like the FRC and even closes on Sundays. So Cathy’s comments, objectionable as they are to supporters of marriage equality, did not really tell us anything new.
Which brings us to pigskin. It seems one Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Maryland state lawmaker, recently wrote Steve Bisciotti, owner of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, insisting that he “inhibit” one of his players, Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has been working in support of gay marriage. The Ravens refused, and Burns’ letter brought him a ton of condemnation, most notably from another player, Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings, who penned a profane, yet cogent reply online.