8.01.2012

The Chick-fil-A Flap Is Not Really About Free Speech

I've been seeing loads of commentary on the Chick-fil-A gay marriage flap that implies this is a debate about free speech. There have been numerous Facebook posts, letters to the editor, and blog posts about how those who are boycotting Chick-fil-A are hypocrites for defending the speech of liberal figures but punishing CEO Dan Cathy for expressing his opinions.

A recent letter in USA Today crystallizes the sentiment coming from this camp:
It seems as if people on the left don't approve of free speech unless it is in line with their beliefs. They call for boycotts of companies that espouse opinions other than their own. This has got to stop. This is the United States of America, where everyone has the right to free speech.

I disagree with comments of Bill Maher, but I don't harass or boycott HBO. Maher has the right to make any statement he wants without the country launching a concerted effort to destroy him, and so does the president of Chick-fil-A.

Stifling free speech with boycotts is extremely dangerous.
These folks seem to be completely missing the point.

This is not really about free speech. Nobody is saying that CEO Dan Cathy shouldn't be allowed to voice his personal views or beliefs. Nobody is saying that companies should never operate on principles that are important to its founders.

It's not what Dan Cathy says that is so troublesome here (although it is disheartening and disappointing to those who support equality). If Dan Cathy voiced his support for Mitt Romney, I don't believe that voicing this would result in liberals organizing a national boycott.

What is the most troubling about Chick-fil-A, and what most pro-Chick-fil-a/pro-family values folks seem to be missing, is that Dan Cathy and his corporation funnel millions of dollars into multiple discredited propaganda-spewing anti-LGBT organizations, including some that have been designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

There is a huge difference between supporting a company that doesn't share your personal political views and supporting a company that actively supports hate groups.

One of these groups is the Family Research Council. Here's a sample of some of the FRC's hateful comments:
“Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.”
— Robert Knight, FRC director of cultural studies, and Frank York, 1999

“One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets' of a new sexual order.”
-1999 FRC pamphlet, Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex with Boys.

“[T]he evidence indicates that disproportionate numbers of gay men seek adolescent males or boys as sexual partners.”
— Timothy Dailey, senior research fellow, “Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse,” 2002
Despite that fact that 82% of child sex abuse is committed by heterosexual men, the FRC (and others, to be sure) continues to perpetuate blatantly false correlations between homosexuality and pedophilia.

Chick-fil-A also funnels money into Exodus International, the infamous "ex-gay" ministry. Exodus is described as "a non-profit, interdenominational "ex-gay" Christian organization that seeks to limit bisexual and homosexual desires." The consensus among the world's major scientific and medical communities is that "being gay, lesbian or bisexual is compatible with normal mental health and social adjustment." In addition, Exodus International's founder, Alan Chambers, recently addressed a Gay Christian Network audience, stating that "99.9% of conversion therapy participants do not experience any change to their sexuality." He then apologized for the previous Exodus slogan "Change Is Possible."

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has stated that "ex-gay" therapy organizations and ministries "lack medical justification" and "represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people."

Quite simply, "Ex-gay" therapy doesn't work, it's harmful, and Chick-fil-A actively supports it.

There are many other troublesome details about Chick-fil-A's policies and their involvement with anti-LGBT groups of which the general public is unaware.

The vocal reaction to Chick-fil-A's stances on gay marriage is not simply based on a difference of beliefs, it is a visceral reaction to the realization that Chick-fil-A actively supports organizations that do great harm to human beings.

If the CEO of Wendy's stated today that he believes African Americans to be inferior, and if we learned that Wendy's donates millions to the Ku Klux Klan each year, the uproar and calls for boycotts would not be attacks on "free speech." This would not simply be a company that has "different beliefs." This would be a company that actively supports a hate group and which endorses discrimination and the intimidation of individuals based on their natural traits. To patronize Wendy's would be to indirectly endorse and support such discrimination. To choose to stop patronizing Wendy's would be to divert money away from their cause.

Of course, if we investigated every company we support, we would undoubtedly learn a great deal that might change the way we spend our money.  We know that Apple has issues in their treatment of foreign labor workers. We know that Target has supported some anti-gay candidates. We can't be expected to be aware of every stance or practice of every corporation we patronize. However, upon learning about a particular company's unsavory practice or stance, we can make a conscious decision right then and there about whether or not we want to continue supporting that company. If anything, this particular instance should encourage all of us to learn more about the corporations we support.

This is a free country and capitalism works well when we vote with our pocketbooks. Voicing disappointment in a business owner's politics is not stifling to free speech. It is the exercising of free speech. Let the free market decide whether a business succeeds or fails based on its practices.

Let's get one thing clear. This is not about stifling free speech. This is about consumers taking a stand against discrimination. This is about a society voicing its disapproval of a company that supports practices which have been deemed harmful by the world's scientific and medical communities. This is about looking out for one another.






60 comments:

  1. Well put. This is not about free speech at all. It's a bout not giving money to a company or cause you don't like, and telling them so.

    Boycotts don't work unless you tell the boycotted *why* you're boycotting them. Otherwise the boycotted thinks they're not marketing well enough.

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    1. Chick-fil-a is a franchise operated restaurant meaning that they sell the rights to see their food to local owners. The company Cick-fil-a does not operate restaurants. So lets be clear about this, a boycott merely hurts your local business man and will never touch the CEO. It was the same way with BP when people thought they were doing something with that boycott.

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    2. Yes, Chick-fil-a never makes a red cent when you spend money in Chick-fil-a restaurants, all their revenue is excreted from unicorns.

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  2. As always Eric - much love to you for speaking the truth so eloquently. :)

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  3. Anyone who does not support gays is considered to be a member of a hate group... That is how you liberals have manipulated all the good people is by saying if someone doesn't like or support what you say or do then they are part of a hate group...

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    1. So true. Eat mor chiken!!!

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    2. Apparently, Anonymous (1:47 PM), you did not even read the post, and as a result make my point for me. Thank you.

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    3. "That is how you liberals have manipulated all the GOOD people" - so, you are saying that people who do support gay rights are NOT good?
      And, also, you're completely wrong. Gay rights wouldn't even be an issue if there weren't so many groups actively opposing them. And the main reason they oppose is because of hate. If one didn't hate them, one wouldn't care what they do. Or maybe it's more appropriate to say "fear"? They oppose any kind of gay rights because they fear them. Maybe a better word for these groups would be "fear groups". Of course, there is always a fine line between hate and fear.
      No, you're not automatically a member of a hate group if you don't support gay rights, but if you actively oppose gay rights, you are doing exactly the same thing the hate groups are doing.

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    4. Let me correct you: gay rights wouldn't be an issue if they would keep it in the bedroom and not try to redefine marriage, or take it into classrooms and try to expose children to it at a totally inappropriate age.

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    5. Anonymous. You don't get it.

      A) Marriage has been redefined and redefined over the course of human history: http://www.defshepherd.com/2012/02/redefining-history-myth-of-marriage-as.html

      B) Homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice. It occurs in nature, and our sexual orientations are determined by a variety of factors, including genetic factors, hormonal factors, environmental factors, etc.

      C) Letting children know that gay people exist is not in any way 'exposing' them to anything at an 'inappropriate age.' What is it about homosexuality that immediately turns into visions of sex for you? If I tell a child that I am married to my wife and we have a family together, that in no way should invoke visions of my wife and I having sex in the bedroom. There's no reason why speaking about gay people should always invoke sexual imagery. That, I'm afraid, is not the problem of homosexuals, but of those who feel that it is sexually deviant behavior.

      If you understand the science of sexual orientation and gender, you will be less weirded out by it. It is a natural phenomenon that is seen in a small percentage of the population. Just like left-handedness, red hair, or anything else. To discriminate against any of those things is to deny someone's validity as a human being .

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    6. A) Marriage has always been centered on one man and one woman, cultural examples notwithstanding, for the basic reason that ideal societal foundation is the nuclear family. The examples you use from the Bible merely reflect human desires and frailties, not the ideal.
      B) If homosexuality is genetic how could it propagate?
      C) You obviously aren't aware of what some kids have been exposed to in their classrooms, and what activists want to expose them to.

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    7. B) "If homosexuality is genetic how could it propagate?" 1st Its called mutations/crossingvover/etc. 2nd no shit it cant propagate (if the genes are activated), which is why its a small percent of the population. Only way it can reproduce is through a surrogate OR by someone with gay genes who (because of environmental influences) is straight and they have a baby. Basic genetics knowledge, have a nice day.

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    8. Ideal is a pretty subjective term. If you define it as 'the family unit with which myself and my like-minded peers are most familiar,' then yes, the one man/ one woman setup is ideal. If ideal is 'a loving, stable, supportive family,' then a man and a woman, a man and a man, or a woman and a woman are all equally suitable candidates. Even single parents can fit the ideal by that definition. Alternatively, if you wish to define ideal as 'the combination of parents most likely to ensure the survival of the children into adulthood,' then you might be interested in the following article:

      http://discovermagazine.com/2003/apr/featfather/

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  4. Seriously, listen to yourselves. Who comes across as the haters... All of the liberal agenda peeps. All he said was he was for basic values and liberals have turned this into a values war and you all are out numbered. The only hate groups and haters are the liberals.

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    1. As always Anonymous Majority - much love to you for speaking the truth so eloquently. :)

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    2. Apparently, Anonymous (1:58 PM), you did not even read the post, and as a result make my point for me. Thank you.

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    3. The hate goes both ways. It's not more or less of one group over another. There is hate everywhere in this country & everyone in this debate sounds like they're 10 years old. So sad. Nothing but a lot of bashing going on anymore.

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    4. Ridiculous. There is nothing hateful about promoting gay equality and fervently opposing those who do not. "Liberal" groups are not trying to send gay people to concentration camps or to deny their rights. It's right wing nut jobs who are doing that.
      And it's not about free speech. If a company's CEO said he didn't think black people should have the same rihts as white people, would that simply be considered a matter of "fre speech"? Hell no, it wouldn't. And so neither is this issue.

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  5. Just curious...do you research the charitable giving of EVERY company you do business with?

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    1. You apparently did not read the entire post.

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  6. As a Libertarian I see nothing wrong with individual boycotting a company and organizing others to boycott. That is clearing your 1st amendment right. Such a boycott in no way infringes on Mr. Caty's 1st amendment rights. However when politicians use the force of government to punish Mr. Cathy that is a clear 1st amendment violation that I would actively oppose just as I actively oppose the positions he puts forward.

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    1. Agreed, Joe. I did not address the Rahms, Meninos, et al. I agree that the grandstanding by elected officials is unhealthy and do not in any way support the use of force to shut down or stop a business from opening based on practices that are legal and protected as free speech.

      That's another ball of wax.

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  7. We who are opposed to gay marriage should eat at Chik-fil-A as often as possible. Indeed, we should eat as much fried, processed, over-salted, over-sugared, hormone-infused food as we can, as often as we can. Here's hoping the long lines continue long after Chik-fil-A appreciation day!

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    1. You know "anonymous" it's apparently very easy for you to say anything you want as an anonymous party..makes me wonder..why don't u have an I'd and name on here.

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    2. Well said Chris!!! I agree! Looks to me you are too "CHICKEN" to say your own words with your own name!

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  8. It seems as though reading an article and taking the time to understand it is no longer a practice of those who comment on them.

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  9. If this is not about free speech, as you say, but about the organizations that Chick-Fil-A supports, then explain why the boycott call came immediately after Dan Cathy's remarks about supporting traditional marriage, rather than taking place all along?

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    1. I am so glad you question that...Can't wait to see if there is an answer to this question.

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    2. I stopped eating there long before the latest drama. As soon as I heard they supported those absurd "pray away the gay" programs, I was done with them. The idea of any of my money going towards that ignorant lunacy offends me to the very core.

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    3. Chick-fil-A's funding of hate groups and anti-LGBT organizations has been going on for years. Many began boycotting CFA long before Cathy made the comments last month. That being said, it was Cathy's public comments that brought the company's ties to these organizations to the attention of the larger population.

      If you do a little research, you will find that boycotts existed long before Cathy's remarks.

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    4. Could you please define "hate" for me? And do you consider any group that does not actively support LGBT causes or seek to further the agenda of the LGBT community as "anti-LGBT"?

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    5. Please visit the Southern Poverty Law Center website. This organization has been the authority on hate groups in America since the Civil Rights era, and is the most respected and referenced hate group watchdog organization, period. Their definitions are quite definitive and hardly subjective.

      They have extensive reports on the Family Resource Center, Exodus International, Liberty Council and others. Please know that not all Chick-fl-A funded organizations are designated as hate groups. The FRC is. Others are listed as anti-gay, and nearly all of them are at the very least guilty of perpetuating debunked anti-gay propaganda. At the worst, they are guilty of supporting lgbt criminalization, and the lobbying of congress to NOT condemn Uganda's 'kill the gays' bill.

      Family values.

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  10. That is absolutely NOT what this is about. This is about a government official butting into a privately owned company and refusing to allow them to open because of what they do with their own money. Whether you agree or disagree with their beliefs (which I completely disagree with Chick-fil-a), it is about the government being in your business. The Cathy's have every right to support whomever they choose, even those we disagree with, and the no mayor of any city should deny them the right to open a store there. Just like it is not the government's business to say who and who may not be married. We every step forward, we MUST make sure we don't take two steps back. This is about the government's involvement PERIOD. If you were to open a business of your own and give all of your money to support gay rights, don't you want the right to do so without some crazy mayor in Idaho saying you can't open your store there? That is the issue here.

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    1. Frankly, I like it when the government stomps all over private businesses who engage in morally reprehensible activities. I wish they would do it more often. Being able to have a private business should be a privilege, not a right.

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    2. So if you opened your own business and wanted to give substantial donations to LGBT Groups, you would be okay with the government shutting you out? A private business in the United States of America is a right. What you do with your money is a right. Being able to eat anywhere you damn well please is a privilege. I support equal rights.

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    3. ^LOL @ "What you do with your money is a right."

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  11. Thank you for putting so eloquently what I have been trying to express to my family. I learned this about Chick-Fil-A about a year ago and haven't been there since. I know it's exploded all over the place now, but thank you for clearly explaining WHY we no longer go. I miss the milkshakes, but not enough to give money to hate groups.

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  12. There are many companies who support gay marriage, give money to their organizations, etc. Why aren't these companies brought to the forefront for the ways they distribute the money they have acquired? When you try to stop people from supporting whom they choose, it affects everybody even those who believe differently.

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    1. It's as easy to find out about one as it is the other. The reason why you don't see people getting all upset about Amazon supporting gay marriage is because the MAJORITY of people in this country support it too and are happy they do it.

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    2. Amazon isn't seeking to deprive anyone of their rights. They're seeking to bring us towards equality where nobody is treated better than his neighbor. Chick-fil-a was actively seeking (by using company funds) to deprive people of rights and encouraged treating some people differently than their neighbors. It's pretty hard to say both are equally virtuous or worthy of scrutiny.

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    3. I think the majority of people want other people to mind their own business.

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  13. Thank you for this article. I've known about Chick-Fil-A's donations and have not supported them. Mr. Cathy's comments are his opinion and protected under the First Amendment - I have no issue with that.

    I also disagree with the grandstanding by elected officials.

    Do you know how often this article is getting posted on Chick-Fil-A's Facebook page? And how quickly it is deleted?

    Thanks again.

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  14. I would disagree with your comments. it is about free speech. There have been countless occasions in which liberals speak their mind and expect everyone to conform. When a liberal disagrees with a conservative statement, it is free speech. But when a conservative disagree, it is labeled as hatred. There is a double standard in this country and it is now time for it to be stopped. an elected official does not have the right to prohibit a business unless it is illegal. And in this case, no illegal act has been committed. l

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  15. Exodus International is not trying to "cure" gays. Its sees homosexuality as a temptation and offers "voluntary" council for anyone who asks for it. They state that no temptation can be cured, but understood. They also council Porn addicts, and tradtional sex addicts. Yes it is a christian ministry that believes sex should only be performed by a Man and woman who are married to each other. That is their religious belief. The president of Exodus also states on the website for homosexuals to AVOID other groups that claim "homosexuality can be cured" The current president also says that homosexuals can go to heaven as everyone sins. Doesnt sound like a hate group to me, but rather a religious group practicing their religion. If you dont like it then it is perfectly fine to boycott and not support Chick Fil A. To call them a hate group is a bit much. I dont support Gay marriage, so I wont marry a gay man. However, I do not hate gay people. I have no right to judge people, because I sin everyday. We all do. I do think this is an attack on freedom of speech and religion. If Chick Fil A was a Muslim owned company I would applaud them for vocalizing their belifs, even if I dont aggree with it. Then I would decide to give them money or not... but I would NEVER support silencing them, or preventing them from opening resturaunts simply because the owner voiced his/her beliefs. That is in fact an attack.

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  16. Anonymous 4:57pm, your self-righteous indignation aside... a Conservative opinion that "gay people are unnatural or unholy or even unwell" is just that: an opinion. It's an ignorant one, but one you're entitled to. Expecting that no one is going to stand up and tell you "you're offensive and furthermore: wrong" is an arrogant, and entitled attitude.

    That being said, I don't believe that anyone should be prevented from opening a business, or forced to close their business based on their personal beliefs but that was not the issue being discussed in this blog post. Anyone in a free society should be allowed to operate their business in anyway they see fit as long as they're NOT HARMING ANYONE. Dan Cathy's business is his business, but when he makes donations to groups that would oppress segments of the population (immoral in your eyes or not) and then boasts about how wonderfully moral he is... then he and his company are open for public scrutiny. He was not obligated to spout his beliefs, and might have even kept his market-share of unknowingly supportive gay folk frequenting his restaurants had he not felt the need to point fingers at his idea of corruption. Religious beliefs don't justify persecution against people who don't believe as you do - and that -without arguement- is where his money is going. There is no "holy" bigotry, and Christians crying "persecution" should remember that they're the one's casting the first stones. Sexuality is not something you're indoctrinated into - religion is. You "choose" to have faith. If it feels like you're being ganged-up on for your opinion, then perhaps you should take a look at what your doctrine says about judgement. Chick Fil A's money is not going to organizations that believe in "live and let live", or even "live by example". Any number of North Americans happily patronize businesses run by nice christian/muslim/faith-holding people. If you make your business about your beliefs, people have the right to not support your business so as not to further your beliefs if goes against their own.

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  17. Id like to know how chick fil doesnt open on sundays, forfeiting 15% of their possible earnings. And still makes piles of money. But if we raise taxes the proposed 3% on the rich we're supposed to beleive the sky is falling. I know why- BECAUSE THEY'RE LIARS!

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  18. "82% of child sex abuse is committed by heterosexual men,"
    Assuming that's true, for 3-6% of the population your own statistics show that homosexuals are responsible for greater proportion than non-homosexuals. Also, I'd LOVE to see statistics for abusers that were themselves abused as children. I'd bet it approaches 100%, whether homosexual or heterosexual. That's one area where everyone should stand together, unfortunately there are homosexual groups that defend man-boy sex. Ugh.

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    1. Please look up the definition of pedophile and the definition of homosexual. They are not synonymous.

      Also, you are aware of a search engine called Google? There are a number of peer-reviewed studies that will provide you with the statistics you're looking for. (Be careful not to get your information from the many discredited organizations such as the ones Chick-fil-A supports.) And yes, the 82% statistic is correct. This is from a A 1994 peer-reviewed study led by Carole Jenny of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

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    2. I understand what he's saying. Because 82% of pedophiles are heterosexual, that means 18% are not. Thus, assuming about 10% of the population is not heterosexual, for the population of non-heterosexual people, there is a disproportionate amount of pedophilia as the third quote would imply (though of course, that's non-heterosexuals, not just homosexuals).

      That being said, no, all homosexuals are absolutely not all pedophiles. That would be ridiculous. It's just like stereotyping anyone who is Hispanic as being an illegal immigrant. The point is that punishing the entire population for something a few individuals have done wrong is not fair, and saying "Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement" is discriminatory and flat out incorrect. That is why this argument is important and relevant.

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    3. The 18% you speak of is not all homosexuals. It is heterosexual females and "Other" smaller groups. don't think it is a all Gay 18%

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  19. Eric, I appreciate your article for being informative. I say that after days and days of back-and-forth with certain family members on the subject. I did not know about the company's support of groups promoting such non-factual doctrine. That's troubling. I have been stating that if it's rights that same-sex couples seek, then we (the government, society, etc.) should just make all tax, insurance, and government laws, policies, etc. equal across the board - meaning everyone operates under the same standards, scrutiny and rights as their neighbors regardless of sexual orientation, race, creed, marital status, etc. If that was the case, then my question becomes, does the word "marriage" really matter to those couples? It obviously matters a great deal to the folks on the other side due to their religious beliefs. So again, if all rights AND RESPONSIBILITIES / STANDARDS were equal, would "civil unions" be acceptable verbage instead of "marriage" for those on the right? I hope so, because if not they are really operating with the intention of harming their neighbors. I lean toward the right fiscally and in some social issues, but making it so others are harmed is never on my mind. On the other hand, I believe that the 180 degree opposite case where the government has to impose atheism on everyone is wrong as well - meaning it has to be a federal law that gay "marriage" is permitted (as one example) and every company or organization offering health coverage must have abortion coverage (as another example). Things should be set up so that people can do live the way they want (as long as others aren't harmed in the process) but that government isn't involved in funding or supporting people's personal lifestyle choices. Is that possible?

    Ending up on a light note, I'll remind everyone of the current divorce rate and the thoughts of comedian Wanda Sykes: "If you want to stop the destruction of the institution of marriage, then just make it illegal to get divorced... that would stop all B.S. / poorly thought-out marriages altogether".

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    1. Though I cannot speak for everyone, the main issue with marriage not being available to same sex couples is that civil unions (where allowed) still deprives them of a lot of those rights that marriages allow. I think I, personally, would be okay with civil unions, provided that was a LEGAL contract of partnership, and marriage as a religious bond. That saying, a church marriage would have no legal recognition, regardless of the makeup of the couple. Only the civil contract having legal rights, and equal across the board. Saying that, churches that recognize same sex unions should have the right to marry same sex couples as their faith allows. If they want to make it about religion, so be it.
      But then what do I know? I'm Canadian. What would we know about all the dire prediction of legal same sex marriage? :P

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  20. Bring me the bigots, homophobes, and racists alike. Bring me false Christians and self-righteous fraught with indignation and spite. Bring me the lemmings blinded by fear, the misinformed holding their beliefs so wrongly dear. Bring me political extremists guided by right wings and narrow-mindlessly straight. Bring me these idiots, so holier than thou, and I shall reap UNGODLY PROFITS from their ignorance and hate.

    From the loving mind of Dan Cathy, on behalf of Chick-fil-A

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  21. bacteria from fecal not purpose to be in urethra, we know these facts in Korea, cause urinary tract disease, so foolish put peepee where not belong,

    anus -- it is exit, not entrance

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  22. This is ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!!! Thank you for the wonderful read!! :-D

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  23. So the left NEVER supports what they want to say is hate groups, , and who and what is a hate group only the Left wing media an define what or who that is , NOT!!!!

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  24. Technically CFA did not donate any money to these groups, it was donated through WinShape, a charitable arm of CFA. I know the liberal reponse before I say it, "One dollar is too much"... but of the so called millions of dollars donated to the hate groups listed, only a few thousand dollars were actually donated to these groups. The mass majority of the money that CFA donates goes to college scholarships, family workshops, childrens charities, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and causes other than LBGT rights...but apparently that is much less newsworthy. Many of the organization supported that were lumped into the hate group category by other sources actually focus on strengthening marriages through couples retreats, counseling and divorce intervention.
    Dan Cathy made a point, it is not man's right to define marriage but rather God's. Even though the idea of marriage and the definition has changed over the centuries the basic biblical foundation has always been between a man and a woman. I am a Cristian, I do not hate gays, but I don't think we should redefine marriage either. Maybe some type of civil union is the answer, who knows...but I think most Christians will have a problem with changing the definition. This is not out of hate of the LBGT community or to deny rights, but rather from their basic religous beliefs.

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  25. President Obama is firmly committed to the homosexual agenda and recent promises made to the LBGT and others have caused some in the conservative movement and the evangelical and Pentecostal churches to shudder. It is also clear that the church's concerns have little bearing on the President's position to throw the doors open for the "gay agenda by closing the steel doors around those who make so much as a whimper against the gays. Signing the untested and highly suspect Matthew Shepard act is the latest evidence of that.

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