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Chicken -- Served With a Side of California Politics

The planned opening of a Chick-fil-A outlet in Walnut Creek Sept. 20 draws heat while hundreds turn out to support statements made by the chain's president at a store in Fairfield.

 

Chick-fil-A is becoming more famous for its president's cultural values than for its chicken. There was a family values backlash Wednesday with "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" around the country, including Fairfield, Solano County.

Walnut Creek could be the next culture wars flashpoint Sept. 20 with a planned gay rights protest to coincide with the planned opening of a Chick-fil-A on North Main Street. Chick-fil-A is expanding in Northern California.

“It’s a First Amendment right issue. He (Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy) has his right to think and say whatever he likes,” Fairfield diner Jerry Pollard told CBS San Francisco.

Last month Cathy, in an interview in July with The Baptist Press, said, "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."

Former presidential candidate and Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee had the idea for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, according to Fox News.

Brand Approval Suffering

Chick-fil-A has suffered a loss of brand approval since the posting of Cathy's interview, according to Polling organization YouGov.

Just before Cathy's interview was published, Chick-fil-A's Index score was 65, well above the Top National Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Sector average score of 46. Just four days later, however, Chick-fil-A's score had fallen to 47, while last week, the chain had a score of 39, compared to the Top National QSR Sector average score of 43, according to a piece in the Huffington Post.

In Walnut Creek, a Chick-fil-A with drive-through service is part of a big construction project with a new 24-Hour Fitness at 2750 N. Main St.

X August 02, 2012 at 10:38 PM
East - If you'd like I can suggest several newspaper websites that you can look at for yourself to see that a significant portion of the crowd was younger (20s - 40s). Many folks took time off to support a cause that was important to them. That seems reasonable. If you feel passionate about something, support it. Just be honest about what you're supporting.
Chris Nicholson August 02, 2012 at 10:47 PM
@ED: I never said you said that, but the superiority is implicit in the legal tactics. Your logic would be good if gay marriage advocates were happy to live with the decisions of voters and legislatures. But, if they are appealing to courts to find fundamental protection in the constitution, the question must be asked: what constitutional protection precludes discrimination against gays but allows discrimination against polygamists.
Amanda August 02, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Peter~I also vote for Dunkin' Donuts!
Amanda August 02, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Thank you for putting that so well, ED.
Amanda August 02, 2012 at 11:09 PM
The difference is that same sex marriage allows for the same rights that married people enjoy. While polygamists would like their "marriages" to be not illegal (as in their actions not punishable by law), they are not necessarily pushing for marriage equality. If all the wives were allowed to be legally married to the one husband, then they would lose the ability to qualify for government assistance.
Amanda August 02, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Thank you ElectraDaddy, for your calm, factual arguments. I'm still searching for the reasons that people give for disallowing gay people the right to marry. Anyone on this thread have a factual, provable reason that two adults of the same sex who love each other, who pay taxes, and have children together should NOT be allowed to have the same rights as two adults of the opposite sex?
Chris Nicholson August 02, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Marriage has a traditional connotation that is partially inconsistent with (or at least distinguishable from) same sex unions. The main thrust was to favor procreating family units that were thought to stabilize and populate the country. Clearly, we allow sterile people to marry and post-menopausal women to marry (men), so there are edge cases, but the main thrust is child bearing in the context of a stable family unit. Although arguably a legitimate interest of the state, it ended up fuzzing up the line between the civil union aspects of marriage and the religious/traditional aspects. This was an error, IMHO. My personal belief is that the "fix" is to get government out of the marriage business altogether. If, however, it is to STAY in this business, I think there is a rational basis to encourage the kinds of unions that produce biological children. I would be OK with a refinement that only offers perks/subsidies to married people who, at the time of marriage, state an intent to have children and that they have no knowledge that either spouse is sterile. If we decide that adoption is a great thing that deserves government support, then maybe we provide special goodies to parents who want to adopt (who, as far as I am concerned, could be a same sex couple). One difficultly comes in separating out the "perks" versus denying workers earned compensation because they are NOT married (why can't I give the actuarial value of my survivor benefits to my brother?)
Amanda August 02, 2012 at 11:54 PM
I wish that were really people's argument, Chris. Why should people be rewarded for having children? I think the government should be the ONLY thing in the marriage business. If a church does not want to recognize, condone or preform a same sex marriage, then it shouldn't have to, but two adults (of the same sex or opposite sex) should be able to obtain a marriage license in exactly the same manner and with exactly the same rights. 40% of babies are born to single women, so clearly the marriage laws need to catch up with the facts. Marriage, if you want to talk tradition, was and has been a financial agreement/business transaction. Chris, I know you are just arguing for argument's sake, but I think you are grasping at straws on this one. And if you truly do want to give your survivor benefits to your brother, I have a few financial planners I could refer you to.
X August 03, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Chris - Procreation no longer has anything to do with marriage. More than half of women under the age 30 deliver a baby while unmarried. Furthermore, my husband and I have two children conceived via surrogacy. These children would not exist had we not been a couple, so for practical purposes we procreated as a family unit. Procreation only becomes important when folks like yourself want to deny my family and families like mine equality. When we're talking about heterosexuals, procreation is not a factor. Thankfully, most courts don't agree with your thought process.
KFrances August 03, 2012 at 04:13 AM
I have to defend Chris, he is reasonable. I think he was trying to say (although don't want to put word's in his mouth) that through history, government's involvement in marriage and home ownership and children were designed to create a more stable and prosperous society. Science is blurring the lines now. Gay couples should be able to marry, or all couples should have civil unions. Sometime's the hostility is so immediate and name calling starts and instantly no one hears each other. It's Chik-Fil-A's loss to be prejudiced. Tolerance of the intolerant - now that's a tricky one !
X August 03, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Amanda - I don't think Chris ever argues for the sake of argument. I see this charge leveled against him from time to time & it seems unfair. I believe he argues what he genuinely believes, which is good because it lets you know where you stand with him.
X August 03, 2012 at 04:49 AM
I was a bit to vague & brief with my original comment which made it sound critical of him. My apologies. I corrected it below. The demands of trying to beat the 10 pm deadline (which is really 1 am for the East Coast reviewer so you feel obligated not to miss it) for your 7am blog post can make you think that fewer words are better when fewer words are really just lazier. So a more clarified comment was owed.
William H. Thompson August 03, 2012 at 06:46 AM
ElectraDaddy: I see you reveal your name, as I do with every post. I believe in transparent identities when speaking, as the Chick-fil-A CEO put his name on the line. I can’t agree with your humorous profile statement, "I believe most of the comments on this site are about as helpful as a screen door on a submarine." Those who oppose my thinking are not threats that could "sink" my boat. Limiting them limits our perspective. I read J.D. O’Connor’s Patch predecessor, "East Bay Daze" and cheer his excellent work and experience, but my business limits time here. I totally missed this article earlier, but not altogether, as you can see. So, to answer your question - I do read Patch. What got my attention was: "Walnut Creek could be the next culture wars flashpoint Sept. 20 with a planned gay rights protest to coincide with the planned opening of a Chick-fil-A on North Main Street." The word "war" was used to describe what you label as neither harmful - nor an attempt at censorship. San Francisco Mayor Lee said, "Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer." Explain how that is not a threat. No one should allow anyone else to influence their donations, to SPCA, to Marriage Equality proponents, EFO or any other cause. It is not "my" money, so it is none of my business. We all need to think our own minds and speak without worrying about repercussions from others - that's why I'm a fan of those who do.
X August 03, 2012 at 01:58 PM
William - Having read this website for an extended period of time and having blogged on this site, I stand by my humorous assessment about the quality of many comments that I read on various Patch websites. Additionally, I can assure you that I'm not alone in my assessment. During dinner conversation at a national conference for parenting bloggers, blogging for Patch was discussed and the consensus was "wouldn't do it" and the primary reason was the comment stream. The concern wasn't about differing opinions, as you suggest. It was about the tone of the comment stream. Bloggers weren't bothered by negative comments on wide audience/national websites but were bothered by them on a hyperlocal websites because the probability of running into an unruly commenter is significantly greater. I can't really respond to your concern about "culture wars" because I can't understand your point. The term has been around for years and is even the title of a Catholic magazine. I don't think its use here indicates anything unique or threatening.
X August 03, 2012 at 02:37 PM
William - If you seriously believe that Mayor Lee is making threats, I'd suggest you contact police officials. I'd offer that he's expressing his displeasure with CFA policies and stating that he hopes they don't open a restaurant within the city limits of San Francisco. Mayor Lee did not surrender his right to express an opinion when he became mayor. Mayor Lee is, however, prohibited by law from denying Chick-Fil-A a business license because of Mr. Cathy's speech. The ACLU has already offered to defend Chick-Fil-A against any city that denies it a permit. So, even if you took Mayor Lee's statement as a threat, it's an empty one at best. People have the right to protest CFA's donations and speak out against them. CFA can continue to make its donations. Both sides are acting within the law and within their rights.
Chris Nicholson August 03, 2012 at 02:48 PM
ED, I am a pretty open book. I always post under my real name, I never (except in hopefully obvious jest) take positions that I don't believe in. But I also try to see both (or all) sides of issues and generally start from the framework that the other side is not insane or mean spirited (at least they don't see that when they look in the mirror). I'm not trying to be balanced. I'm not trying (in the context) to be loved. I am trying to have fun. The question was asked: what's the best "factual, proven reason" for banning gay marriage. I took that to mean a reason that was not rooted in homophobia or Biblical text. I responded with what I think IS the best such argument: the state's interest in promoting stable families that can raise well adjusted children. I think it is also clear that we got to our starting point (call it the state of the world in ~1975) by a series steps taken in good faith and not via an anti-gay conspiracy. I'm not talking about DOMA, I'm talking about the rights and privileges and labels that marriage brings. I think it is just historically wrong to interpret the traditional status quo through a a conscious and overt homophobic lens. Note that I did not say that the status quo is the best answer. I have repeatedly offered what I (honestly) think is the best answer (remove all discretion and perks from the concept of "marriage license," and let anyone opt into a default framework by filing a paper at the recorders office).
Brad Katkowsky August 03, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I can't blog because I can't write but the argument that people don't write or blog because they are afraid they might run into someone of a differing opinion around town struck me as unusual in a country where free speech is guaranteed. If you have a position and can make it and have the stuff to stand behind it, I have respect for you. If you have a postion but are *afraid* to express it because of what someone may think or do to you in the supermarket you're caving in to the fears of cowards and probably wouldn't have provided anything I'd be interested in reading anyway. I like people who stand up and stand behind what they say and write. The others can just mutter to themselves and spare the rest of us.
X August 03, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Brad - Your comment was well-written & articulate. My suggestion would be write a weekly blog for Patch. You could attend the 2013 blogger conference and join us for drinks one evening and let them know your experience.
X August 03, 2012 at 04:52 PM
The simple fact remains that denying legal protections to same sex couples and their children is harmful and discriminatory. Your solution while a reasonable one will never happen. Thus, we must find a solution that works. Unfortunately, most folks opposed to marriage equality (including the organizations that CFA supports) aren't concerned about just the term "marriage". They oppose providing any legal protections to same sex couples and their children. This explains why, unlike in CA, these organizations & other "traditional marriage" activists worked so hard to ban ALL forms of relationships: civil unions, domestic partnerships, and marriage. For them, there is no tolerance or middle ground as they seek to deny same sex couples and their children any legal protections.
Born and Raised August 03, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Brad, you must not actually live around here or haven't been here long. In fact there have been a couple of 'incidents" where a poster was harassed by another that didn't agree with them. Won't get into particulars but it has happened. You want "people who stand up and stand behind" their opinions then I suggest you go to the Roundup and talk to people face to face. I assure you, people there will have no problem giving you an honest evaluation to your opinions. I rarely see people using real names in a comment stream of any on-line public site.
Bailey Lee August 03, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Speaking of subterfuge, ElectraD, How come Chris and I are willing to stand behind our beliefs with a real name and you are not? Never mind. You're gonna make up something or ignore the question as per usual.
Bailey Lee August 03, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Another verse from the gospel acc to ED: "A fair, objective, and permissive attitude would imply that someone opposes marriage equality but doesn't deny gay people legal protection." According to which volume of philosophy or recognized system of logic or just another example of make it up as you go?
Chris Nicholson August 03, 2012 at 11:14 PM
I'm not seeing millions of CFA dollars going to anti-gay groups. See: http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201103220005#1 The reality is that Mr. Cathy is a shareholder of CFA (let's assume the biggest, but unclear if he owns >50%). CFA sells about $4B of food each year. Let's assume they make 10% net profit and Cathy gets half, so $200M. About $120M after taxes. He gives about $10-12M/year to a charitable foundation called WinShape. About 80-90% of their activities/budgets are putting on youth camps, etc. They also give money to other charities. For example, the National Christian Foundation (NCF) got about $220K/year. NCF itself is a charitable clearinghouse, making about $400M of grants a year. I am quite sure that some of the groups that NCF funds are engaged in anti-gay activities, but the connection back to CFA is, ahem, pretty attenuated. WinShape did give tiny amounts ($5-20K-ish) directly to single issue groups that promote "traditional marriage," but I think fairness dictates that the proportionality of these grants be kept in mind. For a guy clearly worth hundred of millions of dollars, I struggle to attach a bunch of INCREMENTAL significance (over and above his very clear statements) to his charitable giving. That said, I respect fully the choice of some to boycott CFA if even one penny of their profits indirectly funds anti gay groups. But if zero tolerance is the policy, the boycott list will be long indeed. Just trying to keep it real.
Brad Katkowsky August 03, 2012 at 11:17 PM
@B&R --- I live here. I say what I believe in and I'm prepared to defend what I say. I'm not afraid of what people may think or say. And I don't set off to anger people. I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion and that they should be able to express those opinions here and elsewhere WITHOUT FEAR. I've said what I think about those who don't. That's their choice. But there's a document called the Bill of Rights out there and I don't like that some people living in my country are afraid to speak their minds out of fear. That's not right. And no more Roundup for me those days are behind me.
Jose August 04, 2012 at 07:05 AM
I welcome Mr. Cathy's comments, as I do those of the Koch brothers when they make their intentions clear. It allows me to make better decisions as a consumer. If Mr. Cathy thinks his statements are going to help expand Chick Fil A into socially liberal California, he has got lot of 'splainin' to do to the Board. I don't care how many waffle fries are sold in the Bible Belt in the name of marriage purity, it doesn't help franchises or corporate branches here. They ultimately have to stand on their own. Thanks, Mr. Cathy, for bringing this to our attention.
X August 04, 2012 at 03:25 PM
If you want to keep it real, then provide the whole picture and not just part. But, hey, I'll help you out .... WinShape Gave Over $1.9 Million To Anti-Gay Groups. In 2010, WinShape donated $1,974,380 to a number of anti-gay groups: Marriage & Family Foundation: $1,188,380 Fellowship Of Christian Athletes: $480,000 National Christian Foundation: $247,500 New Mexico Christian Foundation: $54,000 Exodus International: $1,000 Family Research Council: $1,000 Georgia Family Council: $2,500 Note that's just for 2010. Just trying to keep Chris real. No need to thank me.
X August 04, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Chris - CFA is owned and controlled by the Cathy family. CFA donates to WinShape. The folks that own CFA (the Cathy family) formed WinShape as CFA's charitable arm. It's a separate entity for tax and legal reasons. This is fairly standard. WinShape is controlled by members of the Cathy family (the folks who own CFA) and CFA executive staff. WinShape donates several million dollars each year to the organizations listed. WinShape is well aware of the policies and objectives of those organizations - that's why it supports them.
Chris Nicholson August 04, 2012 at 04:07 PM
ED: You need to dig one layer deeper. So CFA pays dividends to Cathy, who formed WinShape, who give a small (<20%) of its annual giving to groups, some of whom do anti-gay rights advocacy as PART of what they do. So the "bad apples" are there, but I find it relevant to observe that Cathy's "Hateful giving" percentage seems pretty modest. I can find no data on the Marriage & Family Foundation-- maybe it is 100% dedicated to anti-gay rights. I don't know, but I would bet that it more consistent with WinShape's broader work to support Christian marriages (of course, they don't allow married gay couples to attend--- score that as you want). But consider the Fellowship Of Christian Athletes. Their mission is not to fight gay rights, and I assume 90%+ of what they do is pretty secular, but with prayer breaks. But they don't allow gay sexual conduct at their events (and, like the Boy Scouts, likely would not knowingly sponsor an openly gay athlete). In summary, a tiny percentage of CFA's money indirectly goes to support groups that spend some of their time and money fight against gay rights advocates, but most of his charitable work is unambiguously good and helpful. Perhaps not unlike, for example, the Catholic church.
X August 04, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Chris - I don't think you understand the problem or you're trying to define a different problem that's irrelevant. The Cathy family controls CFA. CFA makes donations to WinShape. Winshape, like CFA, is controlled by the Cathy Family (and some non-family members of the CFA executive staff). So, CFA and WinShape are virtually the same entities. They are separated for legal and tax reasons. The FCA promotes the notion that you can be "freed" from homosexuality. Those sentiments help convince many parents that their children can be "cured" if they receive reparative therapy. And as someone who grew up hearing those sorts of messages ("cured", "freed", etc.), I can tell you that they are quite damaging. Nevertheless, reparative therapy doesn't work and has shown to be harmful. People need to decide this agenda for themselves and that's all folks are trying to do is - provide information about what CFA supports with its money. $2M a year is a tiny part of CFA's money, but $2M isn't a tiny amount of money. (If it is, Chris, then feel free to forward me $2M.) The fact remains that CFA, through the charitable organization that it controls, donates money to groups aimed at harming gay people, their children, or convincing people that gay people are broken and must be "freed" or "cured". Decide for yourself if you want to be a part of that system and be glad you live in America where you can decide to do either one. Just be honest about what you're supporting.
Chris Nicholson August 04, 2012 at 05:41 PM
ED, I get it. They are crazy fundies. I 100% understand. My central point is that the act of holding, expressing and promoting their views (1st amendment-ish) is not materially exacerbated byt their giving. I think it is intellectually dishonest to claim that the objectionable thing is the giving of money and not the holding of contrary opinions. For example, if two identical dry cleaners were across the street from each other and one had a sign that said "Marriage Equality for All" and the other had a sign that said "God Forbids Gay Sex," would you flip a coin when choosing which to patronize (assume you knew with certainty that neither gave money to any advocacy groups)?

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