Consumers wrote the latest chapter in Boston's Chick-Fil-A controversy today as hundreds lined up to buy the company's food in spite of, or in some cases because of, Boston Mayor Tom Menino's pointed letter to Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy last week. When Cathy revealed his personal opposition to same-sex marriage to the Baptist Press last month, adding that his company backed the "biblical definition" of marriage, Menino fired back by strongly suggesting that Cathy not try to open a restaurant along Boston's famed Freedom Trail.
While Menino's support of same-sex marriage is admirable, his attempt to suppress other points of view by trying to dissuade Chick-Fil-A from locating in Boston was typically heavy-handed and may have backfired. Many of those who crowded the Chick-Fil-A at the Burlington Mall outside Boston today agreed. Most claimed to be standing up for free speech and tasty chicken rather than taking a particular side in the same-sex marriage debate, which is pretty well settled in Massachusetts by now. Some noted that the views of Chick-Fil-A's CEO were irrelevant as long as the company does not discriminate in its hiring practices or its service, as it claims.
Mayor Menino has no legal method to block Chick-Fil-A from opening in Boston, and his letter was his way of publicly expressing his opposition to Cathy's views. The Chick-Fil-A controversy will probably die down quickly in most parts of the country. But in cities like Boston, where sentiments supporting the rights of all people to marry whom they choose are strong, many people would like to make a statement against business leaders such as Cathy who are actively fighting to eliminate those rights. The answer is to boycott businesses run by executives who use their money to support discriminatory legislation. In the case of Chick-Fil-A, it's literally a matter of putting your money where your mouth is.