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EDITORIAL: Chicken sandwiches and greasy politicians

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A few words about gay marriage made by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy have certainly led to the spilling of ink in recent days. That didn’t surprise us. Neither did reactions that included Wednesday’s support of a Chick-fil-A event sponsored by Mick Huckabee or Friday’s “kiss-in” planned by those who disagree with Cathy’s comments.

Regular customers of the restaurant chain probably hope things get back to normal soon. Good luck.

What surprised and disappointed us were comments from politicians who threatened to nix expansion plans into some cities by the company. That shows a disrespect for free speech and some of the same closemindedness that Cathy has been, we believe wrongly, accused of.

In case anyone has been tuned into nothing but the Olympics as of late, Cathy voiced his opposition last month to same-sex marriage, saying he feared it would call down God’s judgment. The company was founded just after World War II by Cathy’s father and the family has never been ashamed of its Christian principles.

All Chick-fil-A stores, more than 1,600 of them, are closed Sundays out of respect for the traditional Christian day of rest. That gives the company’s employees and their families the chance to attend the church of their choice and spend time with one another. Few large companies today sacrifice that kind of revenue out of principle.

The company also supports its communities through charitable contributions and while some of that money has gone to groups that support a traditional definition of marriage – one man, one woman – the company is generous in other ways in the communities it serves.

People have every right to disagree with Cathy’s views on gay marriage and to peaceably protest. We might suggest those who disagree protest with their wallets by finding someplace else to eat. But that isn’t enough for some politicians who want to teach the company a lesson. A few vowed to work to deny building permits or simply said Chick-fil-A was unwelcome in their communities.

On July 20, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told Cathy in a letter to shelve any plans for a store in his city. “Here in Boston, to borrow your own words, we are ‘guilty as charged,’ ” Menino wrote. “We are indeed full of pride for our support of same-sex marriage and our work to expand freedom to all people.”

Menino was picking up on Cathy’s words that he was “guilty as charged” in his support of traditional marriage.

“Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away,” San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee said in a tweet. “I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s comments were less daring. “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members.”

Politicians and the public are free to voice their own opinions, but let’s be clear. No one to our knowledge has accused Chick-fil-A of discriminating against gay customers or employees. Cathy was voicing his opinion on an issue that divides many Americans.

Judge Cathy and his restaurant on their words and actions but let’s respect free speech. Our Constitution enshrines free speech as a right of all, not just those who preach what is popular or politically correct at the moment.

What are the chances of a Chick-fil-A opening in Perry County?

Our view: Editorials reflect the opinions of the newspaper.

Your view: Tell us what you think. E-mail us at editor@perrycountynews.com or mail your comments to P.O. Box 309, Tell City, IN 47586.