Boycott Chick-Fil-A Over Junk Food, Not Gay Marriage

The fast food chicken sandwich company should be criticized for its unhealthy food, not its opposition to gay marriage.

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Don't boycott Chick-fil-A because its CEO is an outspoken foe of gay marriage.

Boycott it because it sells junk food that impacts the health of young people, which is potentially far worse than CEO Dan Cathy's influence on their minds.

There's no defense of hatred and bigotry. And we shouldn't even accuse Cathy of being "intolerant," because the word suggests that gays and lesbians are some sort of social ill that needs to be "tolerated," like our global warming-era summer in Washington. The word also opens the door to the false equation that Cathy's intolerance should be tolerated by the rest of us, especially if his "intolerance" is driven by religious beliefs. Cathy's comments are offensive, but have nothing to with fried chicken sandwiches on white bread, and his opinion won't change if people stop buying his company's food (or more appropriately, "food.").

[Take the U.S. News Poll: Should Cities Boycott Chick-Fil-A Over Gay Marriage?]

Human sexuality is a tough issue for a lot of people, since it goes to the heart of who we are and how we see ourselves. Rarely does someone open his or her mind on the issue based on logic; it generally comes with age and experience, knowing people who are gay and lesbian, and realizing that it's just not a big deal. The reason public attitudes towards same-sex relationships and gay marriage are changing is not because people have come to some sort of new logical conclusion based on new evidence. It's because younger people—conservatives as well as liberals—don't see it as an issue, certainly not one that should divide us. And lots of older people, exposed to more contact with gays and lesbians in their own families and in the media, just aren't as threatened by it as they used to be.

The threat of junk food, however, is very real. And it's not just about good-naturedly bemoaning a few extra pounds around our mid-sections. It's about a generation of kids facing childhood obesity, Type II diabetes, and a host of other health problems that may not only make them the first generation not to live longer lives than their parents, but will cost the entire country huge amounts of money in healthcare. Chick-fil-A is not the only purveyor of junk food out there, and the chain has the obligatory fruit bowls to give the veneer of healthful choices. But even the Chick-n-Strips Salad has 22 grams of fat, the company's website reports.

[See editorial cartoons on same sex marriage.]

Children have a natural sense of fairness and equality. No child is born a racist or homophobe. Judgmental attitudes come with age. This generation of young people seems to be rejecting the idea of hating people because of their inborn sexuality, and that's a very positive development. But what good will that be, if they die early from avoidable illnesses? The CEO of Chick-fil-A has the right to say what he wants, and let's hope no one's really listening. The junk food he sells is far more poisonous in the long term.

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