Marriage equality has been in the news quite a bit recently, both on the national level, and on the local level as Maryland faces a ballot initiative to strike down the recently-passed Civil Marriage Protection Act (links to .pdf). As I’ve said before on this blog, I believe strongly that civil marriage is a civil right. As a non-theist, I am less concerned about religious ceremonies and practices, and am more focused on the ability of same-sex couples to access to the very real social, legal, and economic benefits conferred by the word and concept of “marriage”.*
Sometimes, a girl has to put her money where her mouth is, and if you know me, you know I have a big mouth. I recently became involved, through a grad school classmate, with a Facebook event entitled Donate (the cost of) a Chicken Dinner for Marriage Equality Day. The event was organized in response to the recent admission of Chick-fil-A president/COO that he and the organization “support a biblical definition of a family unit.” They have never hidden the Baptist values that support their corporate structure (being closed on Sundays, for example), and they also make really delicious chicken sandwiches.
Now, as a private corporation, they have every right to act in accordance with their beliefs, values, and best corporate interests. As a private citizen, knowing that a percentage of their corporate profits go to organizations explicitly opposing marriage equality and the rights of the LGBT population, I have an equal right to choose not to spend my money actively opposing my beliefs and my best interests. It’s for this reason that I became involved with my friend’s Facebook event, helping to promote it and moderate comments (as you can imagine on an issue like this, the comment section has occasionally been quite heated). I chose to participate in this among many protests because I really do believe (unfortunately!) that money often speaks louder than words, and I am choosing in this instance to vote with my dollars. I understand other groups have organized LGBT “kiss-ins” at a variety of Chick-fil-A locations, but that is a bit confrontational for my personal political taste, and I do worry a little that it’s an invitation to the sort of physical confrontation that leads to violence, not to mention how it confuses the issue of when PDAs are appropriate with larger political issues.
Frankly, I can’t quite tell you why I’ve chosen to draw my line in the sand here, over this issue, at this point. I shop at Target regularly, despite their spotty track record of corporate donations. I avoid Walmart for a variety of reasons (I come from a pro-union household, to start, and I find their pricing practices predatory and their history of pressuring municipalities for tax exemptions and then leaving when the exemptions expire is also problematic). I’m sure there are dozens of ways I’m making the wrong choice on a regular basis when it comes to spending my money. I think I just have to hope, every now and then, that I can make a difference.
* With the understanding that marriage is not mandatory, and no person or couple who does not wish to be married should feel compelled to participate. It should be an option, not an obligation.