It’s a seemingly never-ending saga that pits the Chick-fil-A spicy deluxe sandwich vs. LGBT activists. As if on replay, Chick-fil-A announces a new location, and liberal activists immediately protest, offended that the chicken sandwich company is expanding near them.
On Jan. 3, 2022, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority announced that the current buildings at Brookdale South service areas on the Garden State Parkway will be demolished and rebuilt. In the new facilities, several new restaurants will be opened including Chick-fil-A, Burger King and Starbucks.
But in our highly polarized and politicized culture, where individuals make dietary decisions based on a company’s political views, town officials in Bloomfield, New Jersey are expressing outrage at the decision.
“I just can’t feel comfortable eating, giving money to someone who’s opposing my rights,” Bloomfield Councilman Rich Rockwell said, according to News12. “For that to be on a publicly funded, state agency highway, that seems inappropriate to me. The Turnpike Authority has a core value of diversity.”
“This restaurant chain would be an affront to all of the citizens of Bloomfield that make up the tremendous diversity that makes our town such a great place to live,” Rockwell added in a separate statement.
Additionally, Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia called the New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s decision to allow Chick-fil-A to open “incredibly disappointing.”
“Bloomfield is a diverse community accepting of all races, religions and sexual orientations, which is the antithesis of what this chain stands for,” Mayor Venezia added.
“Chick-fil-A has a long, documented history of opposing same sex marriage and supporting anti-LGBTQ legislators and organizations. I implore the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to reconsider this decision and to instead choose a restaurant that is more in line with our values.”
Both Mayor Venezia and Councilman Rockwell touted the buzzword “diversity” in their comments – apparently unaware that real diversity includes recognizing the opinions of those we disagree with.
If Venezia and Rockwell were true champions of real diversity, they would celebrate Chick-fil-A’s opening with a statement that would go something like this:
“Though I vigorously disagree with Chick-fil-A’s stance supporting traditional marriage, our city is open and welcoming to all. Our diversity is our strength.”
Or something along those lines.
It’s hard to believe the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A has been ongoing for 10 years.
In 2012, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy expressed support for traditional marriage, as recounted by The Christian Post.
“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” Cathy said at the time.
“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. … We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that.”
Since then, the restaurant chain has shifted away from its open support for traditional marriage, disappointing many supporters by announcing that the Chick-fil-A Foundation will no longer donate to the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.
Still, Chick-fil-A is a fan favorite, earning the title of “best fast-food restaurants” for the 7th year in a row as ranked by the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The chain is also well-known for its hospitality and great customer service – as well as for being closed on Sundays to give their employees time to rest.
But all of that isn’t important for LGBT activists – who are still unhappy over Dan Cathy’s comments from a decade ago.
In 2018, the Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission centered around whether Jack Phillips, a cake baker in Denver, Colorado, could be forced to express a message he disagreed with by making a custom cake for a “same-sex wedding.”
Former Justice Anthony Kennedy noted during oral arguments that “tolerance is a two-way street.”
The justice authored the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 imposing legalized same-sex marriage on all 50 states. But he still understood the importance of real tolerance – and that it goes both ways.
Any person – including same-sex- and transgender-identified individuals – who wanders into a Chick-fil-A will undoubtedly experience the same quality service and warm welcome that everyone else does.
So it’s unfortunate that Chick-fil-A has received such an icy reception in The Garden State.
Photo from Shutterstock.