A counter-protester stands outside a Chick-fil-A on the so-called "Appreciation Day."
Op-ed: My Life Isn't a Political Issue

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com August 02 2012 6:00 AM ET

Mike Huckabee wanted thousands of people to buy some Chick-fil-A on Wednesday in the name of "free speech" — but he seems to think it's only OK for customers to wield their buying power to say something he agrees with.

"Show your support for Chick-fil-A and free speech. Visit Chick-fil-A today," he wrote on Twitter on the morning of his "Appreciation Day" for the fast-food chain.

Surely the former Arkansas governor and Baptist preacher wasn't complaining that his views and those of other Christians are being censored. Because I can hear them loud and clear — whether it's from Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy, who called marriage equality "twisted," or from Huckabee himself, who said the Boy Scouts should be allowed to ban gay scouts and leaders because they might be pedophiles.

Instead, it sure seems like Huckabee prefers that anyone who disagrees with his view of Christianity stop being so angered by its offensive message.

"I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick-fil-A company," he wrote. "Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same-sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we're considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant."

This is a relatively new trick in the playbook of homophobes. It's not them who are being intolerant, they claim, it's the gays. Chick-fil-A is actually the victim, which Huckabee says is "being smeared by vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry from the left."

And it's at least partly true. I have no tolerance for people who say that although I married my husband in Washington, D.C,. in 2010, my marriage should be dissolved. Rick Santorum actually advocated just that — a forced divorce — while running for president. He also proudly attended Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

This new line of argument from the homophobes pretends that what Santorum says is merely a "political view." But my life is much more than that.

Chick-fil-A has used the money its customers spend to then make huge donations ($5 million and counting) to antigay groups, including those that try to turn people from gay to straight. These groups claim my love for my husband is a sin, a lifestyle choice, or a mental disorder I am suffering — usually all three.

It's wrong for anyone to ask me to "tolerate" that view. That's what the mayors of Boston, Chicago, Washington, and San Francisco all understand — that this isn't an issue of liberals tolerating conservatives, or Republicans tolerating Democrats. This isn't an argument about the pros and cons of the Keystone Pipeline. This is about discrimination. This isn’t about religious values; it’s about American values.

And so those mayors, plus possible mayoral candidate Christine Quinn in New York City, have made it clear they don't want Chick-fil-A in their cities, where the company would only raise money to fund its antigay donations. And these mayors seem committed to doing anything within the limits of the law to prevent the company's arrival. It’s hard to imagine reacting any other way when you live my life.

My husband and I would like to adopt children one day. We now are parents to twin foster daughters who we love — and who we probably loved at first sight. Chick-fil-A funds people who say those children should be taken away from us because we are gay.

I can't tolerate that belief. That belief is a danger to my family. And people who agree with that view eventually start to wonder if they should do something about it. The hate crimes still happening across this country are evidence in the extreme. Someone has to protect the children, right? That's what Anita Bryant said when she campaigned in the 1970s to rid Miami of its antidiscrimination law. What's so sad is how many people, like Huckabee and Santorum, are still stuck with her in the late '70s.

Asking me to "tolerate" the beliefs of people who want to tear apart my family is a 1977 view. It's probably not a 2012 view. And it's definitely not a 2050 view.

The Advocate has received some criticism for our sense of outrage about the Chick-fil-A story and about the amount of attention we are paying the debacle. Mainstream media hasn’t reacted as if Chick-fil-A were Don Imus giving a racist broadcast, after all. But what year will it be when that changes?

On that date, anyone who is now self-righteously asking me to "tolerate" bigotry will be on the wrong side of history. That includes New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, an LGBT ally who lobbied for marriage equality, but who has said in defense of Chick-fil-A’s right to expand wherever it wants to as a business that, "You really don’t want to ask political beliefs or religious beliefs before you issue a permit, that’s just not government’s job." But this isn't about "political beliefs," and it's not about religion. It's about the government's duty to stop discrimination, in all of its forms.

The government is failing in that job in numerous cases. Congress hasn't passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal for an employer to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And that's at least partly why Chick-fil-A, in its defense, has repeatedly sworn it does not discriminate against LGBT people in hiring — because that's actually still legal in a lot of places.

One day it won't be. And when that day comes, there will be no tolerance remaining for Huckabee's present-day and misguided interpretation of Christianity. Every time someone says my husband should be forcibly divorced from me, and my children taken away, and my employer allowed to fire me, all just because I'm gay, those people are rightfully labeled "homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant."

 

LUCAS GRINDLEY is the editor for Advocate.com and news director for The Advocate. He lives in Los Angeles with his husband and two foster daughters.