Opinion: Why I’m celebrating Chick-fil-Gay Appreciation Day
July 30th, 2012
11:00 AM ET
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Editor's Note: Steve McDonagh owns and operates Hearty Restaurant and The Hearty Boys Caterers with his partner, Dan Smith. In addition to winning the first season of Food Network's hit series "Food Network Star," Smith and McDonagh live in Chicago with their son, Nate.

I am not a Dan Cathy basher. I respect Chick-fil-A's Chief Operating Officer for taking an honest stand and putting his business in the line of fire by clarifying the company’s stance on gay marriage.

It takes guts to be responsible for your words. It takes a person of conviction who is willing to bear the repercussions from those who dislike what he has to say. And in a political climate where our politicians are afraid to say anything off-prompter, lest it be twisted and dissected for hidden meaning, the responsible are difficult to find.

I’ve been vocal about my political and social convictions for years. My guess is that Cathy would be surprised at how much he and I have in common.

Like Cathy, my partner’s and my business plan has always been intertwined with our personal lives. The Hearty Boys are Dan and Steve; they can’t be separated. Even our closest friends refer to us as The Hearty Boys, as in "we’re going to The Hearty Boys for dinner because Mike Huckabee didn’t respond to their dinner invitation, so there’s an extra seat."

Like Cathy, we are a family-run business. We cherish the remembered moments of covering our son in a fresh tablecloth when meetings and naptime collided, know the exhaustion of late night pillow talk being business-related, and the pride we felt when Nate first said he wants to someday run the business (be warned, he wants to make it a combo Chinese takeout and veterinary clinic).

Like Cathy, we use the power of our brand to back up our beliefs - and this is where the tricky part of responsibility starts. Unlike the nameless Internet ninjas, what we say not only reflects on us as individuals but onto our businesses. And by “business,” I don't mean just our bottom line but the people who work for us and those that do business with us. How does what Steve McDonagh says reflect on someone who holds a position in The Hearty Boys? How does what Dan Cathy says make his gay and lesbian employees feel? Or gay and lesbian franchise owners? Or gay and lesbian stockholders?

Like Cathy, “we want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families."  But when Dan Cathy says “strengthen families,” he’s excluding my family: Dan, Steve and Nate. He means except Abby, Julie and Carly, or Brad, John, Max and Jack-Jack. We obviously don’t fall under the “families” heading and we must be marginalized.

No longer.

So, when Mike Huckabee called for August 1 to be Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, we decided to make August 1 Chick-fil-Gay Appreciation Day at Hearty Restaurant in Chicago. When a guest purchases a fried chicken sandwich with pickles on a toasted buttered bun, the proceeds will go directly to Equality Illinois to help families that some feel don’t deserve strengthening.

And here the similarities completely end. Unlike Cathy, I have no interest in alienating my client base or offending my guests. I run on a business plan of inclusion. A Chick-fil-A statement stressed that the chain is inclusive as well. Its more than 1,600 stores are committed to treating gay and lesbian employees and guests with the same “honor, dignity and respect” that they give everyone else, but my community knows better. There’s no honor, dignity and respect in thanking a client for a purchase and using LGBT dollars to fund programs aimed at destroying our families.

Finally, we stand on different sides of history. Sadly, Dan Cathy is on the wrong side. Cathy can refer to us a “prideful and arrogant,” but I think those words are well-suited to those who sit in judgment and speak for their version of God. Sixty years of civil rights history teach us that basic human rights will always win out. You can’t stop equal rights anymore than you can take back that seat on the bus. This is our new reality. You can’t stop progress, as the man says.

The tide has changed, and the escalating shouts we hear are the cries of the self-righteous who never imagined they’d be the ones fighting the current.

More on Chick-fil-A and religion:

Are you eating at Chick-fil-A on August 1? Share your story with CNN iReport

Christian groups allege threats to religious freedom in anti-Chick-fil-A campaigns

Chick-fil-A and free speech

A social media storm over Chick-fil-A

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers defend Chick-fil-A

Ed Helms has beef with Chick-fil-A

Eatocracy: Fast food with a side of faith 

10 religious companies besides Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A controversy sheds light on restaurant's Christian DNA

soundoff (1,614 Responses)
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    July 3, 2013 at 4:36 am |
  2. Kay

    Mr. Cathy never said he hated gays nor did he ever refuse to serve them in his restaurants. He simply stated his faith.
    We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty — these are Christian virtues.Evil preaches tolerance until it is dominate and then it seeks to silence good. We should be mindful when the secular world demands tolerance for all, tolerance for all means we cannot have standards of our faith to live by, because those standards obviously require we be intolerant of sins this world has embraced. We are to love everyone but not to accept ways that are against God's word.

    February 1, 2013 at 9:51 am |
  3. Mark

    And so on it goes, Chckengate continues, wake me when this silliness is over ;)

    August 7, 2012 at 5:16 am |
  4. WillieLove

    We need to focus on the needs of the people not having health care, homes and jobs. the rich getting richer by the day, the house shot down raising taxes on the rich. I don't agree with Obama on certain issues but he is trying to help the middle and poor. Last thing we need is same sex marriage or some issue that should not be a concern. LGBT needs to get right with God and the GOP need to get right with God. Everyone needs to get right with God. Country is sinking because of the morals of America and the direction it's going. Money problems because the Rich want to make more money and GOP is the leading runner of this money situation. Now, there is a few Dems doing the same darn thing! Come on people wake up!!

    August 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  5. liberty

    An organiztion I worked for told me after I'd been there for 9 months that I'd have to accept homosexuality as a valid lifestyle or I could be terminated. I'd just had a great performance review and decent raise. Rather than try to fight it, I just quit. I'm not really digging the g/l community's swakings of outrage

    August 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  6. samantha

    I'm an atheist and bisexual – I support gay marriage and I certainly disagree with the views expressed by Dan Cathy. That is my right as an individual and as an individual I am free to protest if I choose.

    However I am very disturbed by the government thugs in DC, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston that seem to think that it is acceptable to abuse their power to punish Chick Fil-A for having a different opinion than they do. None of us should tolerate this tyranny. These "Mayor's" should be ashamed and every citizen should be alarmed at the arrogance and pompous attitudes of these goons that think that these actions are acceptable.

    Not in my name!!

    August 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Rick

      I agree 100%. Its interesting that someone like Rhom will try to legislate HIS morality. His old Boss feels the same way, that his opinion is all that mattrers and everyone else hould accept it.

      August 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  7. Private Enterprise

    The LGBT community has become too entitled. At some point there has to be acceptance that not everyone has to accept the LGBT lifestyle. This is not to condone discrimination, this is simply to say that there are those of us with a distinct preference for a more traditional set of values and the LGBT community is going to have to accept this.

    August 5, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  8. GenericMan

    They should just marry themselves without the authority of the government and eventually the government will have to recognize. Government is a symbol of power, and loses authority when it is no longer recognized. Just bypass them and do your own ceremonies and recognize another authority which grants your rights.

    August 5, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
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  11. Kristen T.

    You are right Steve, you are a lot like Dan Cathy. Just like Dan some of your values and beliefs offend others. How do your conservative employees and customers feel about your stance on gay marriage? There are some people who truly believe that the union between two men or two women is a complete mockery of what God himself intended. The Bottom line is that everyone has an opinion, everyone is different. And quite frankly, Chick fil a doesn't need gay people's money to continue to be succesful. I do not have anything against gay people nordo I have a hate agenda. I just think that we should all learn how to respect the opinons of others. Stop trying to force your lifestyle on people who's values are insteeled in them by a creature who will say yay or nay on Judgement Day. Go home protestors, there is nothing you can do.

    August 4, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • lory

      I agree with you. I love the headline "throngs" of people go to kiss off. How ridiculous. I would like to see the numbers for Wednesday and the numbers for Friday.

      Just one more thing: If you ask a gay woman to kiss a a straight man she would say that would make her gag. Well, gayness makes me gag. So what....

      August 4, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
      • Proud to be American

        So maybe the solution is for you not to kiss a gay person. Problem solved. If that Gay person wants to marry another gay person, it's no differnent than two people sharing a flavor of ice cream you don't like, but it doesn't have to ruin your ice cream. However most people who gag the thought of someone else's sexual orientation there is probably some unresolved sexual issue on their own ends. In your case, perhaps it's those recurring Gay lesbian fantasies you just can't shake off that disturb you?

        August 5, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • Proud to be American

      I am proud to be an American who knows what God intended. He certainly did not intend thousand island dressing for fried chicken sandwiches. Thousand Island dressing is Gay.

      August 5, 2012 at 3:36 am |
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  13. Julian Melancthon

    Cathy is only wrong if you have the morals of a ally cat or a dog in heat in a third world country. Evolution alone begs to differ with the homosexual agenda that cannot reproduce but ideas. You can only reproduce ideas – no natural born children. Sex is a strong motivator. Unnatural sex is even a stronger motivator because those trapped by it will defend their desire above the scientific evidence against it and the theological evidence to destroy it. Look at Sodom and Gomorrah and you will see the extent to which perversion controls every aspect of the prisoners body, soul, and mind. God will forgive them if they are willing to turn. He forgives us all of we are willing to turn.

    August 4, 2012 at 11:35 am |
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  15. Maria Carvalho

    I some questions: Why is it that the only religious freedom that needs protection is the Republcian right wing one? What about the Chistians that love everyone regardless? Why do Huckabee and company want to deny us our freedom? Finally: how and when do they talk to God AND get a response?

    August 4, 2012 at 10:22 am |
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  18. LoveLiveLove

    To all the upset straight folks. You may deny the right to love and marry, all you wish. You may turn your heads at the sight of a same gender kiss. But like it or not gay people have always existed and always will exist. If you choose to hate, refuse to see and continue to hold tight to your bible, your traditions of marriage will destroy family's. You allow us the right to exist but refuse us the right to live. You have allowed your bible, your traditions of marriage to speak hate. You have allowed your opinion to prevent my right to love, to live. You will not make me love someone I do not. You will not prevent me from loving someone I do. I can not expect you to give me the right to love, to live. For it is not yours to give. I have the right to love, to live I gave it to myself. It was mine to give. It will be mine to marry. You will know it, It was never your choice. -LOVE-

    August 4, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • stephen

      sadly you have swallowed the lies perpetuated by this lifestyle. As we look across the landscape of the world We see Gender. Not just females, not just males. That is evidence God created us that way. He gave us his laws that we are to live by. The sexual relationship is exclusive to married male and female relationship. Of course you have the right to live how you want. But GOd reveals the consequences in his word. It is too your wisdom to heed it's warnings. Otherwise the day will come when salvation and forgiveness are no longer possible. Many who live a gay lifesyle are tragically finding out the consequences of their choice when they die, their eternal spirit is plunged into hades, the place of torment and punishment. They cry, and suffer, but no one hears. For them it is too late. God speaks in his word, now is the day of salvation. call out to him while he still may be found. open the bible and read it with an open mind. Allow the lord to speak to you. God can reveal truth and change our hearts.

      August 4, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
      • stephen

        God is a God of mercy and love. He sent Jesus his son to die on a cross to pay the price for yours and my sin. He states " the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus christ the lord". He also states " GOd does not want anyone to perish but all to be saved and come to the truth in Jesus Christ" When GOd created the world he included his laws. Does not he have the right. We owe God everything. we live on his earth, breath his air, Use resources that belong to him. We owe our exsistence to God. I am grateful to be here and desire to honor and obey him. history is changing very soon. THe lord will establish his kingdom on the earth as God foretold centurys ago. I want to be included in that era not against him. "for God so loved the word that he gave his only begotten son that Whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life"

        August 4, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • lory

      To all the upset straight folks. Im straight and I 'm not upset. You may deny the right to love and marry, all you wish. Yes we can advocate our opinion and vote accordingly. You may turn your heads at the sight of a same gender kiss. I do turn away just as my gay friends don't like seeing straight people kiss. But like it or not gay people have always existed and always will exist. They exist for alot of reasons, somre born taht wayt, some molested as children,,,some choose an alternative lifestyle. If you choose to hate, refuse to see and continue to hold tight to your bible, your traditions of marriage will destroy family's.The gay argument is that I am hater and I am not. I simplly don't agree with your views on this issue. And family is not destroyed but I do know that if put all the gay guys on an island their species would die out because they cann procreate. You allow us the right to exist but refuse us the right to live. No one has ever refused you the right to live. You have allowed your bible, your traditions of marriage to speak hate.The bible does not speak hate. You have allowed your opinion to prevent my right to love, to live. /Go and love someone and live your life. You will not make me love someone I do not. You will not prevent me from loving someone I do. I can not expect you to give me the right to love, to live. For it is not yours to give. I have the right to love, to live I gave it to myself. It was mine to give. It will be mine to marry. You will know it, It was never your choice. -LOVE

      August 4, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  19. California


    August 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • No such thing as a double negative from two positive words

      yeah right

      August 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
      • Truth™@No such thing as an informed liberal

        Read on, genius...

        August 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • lory

      so no vandalism from the conservatives but can't say so about the gay activist or the bully who drove through the chick fi la and harrassed that poor woman who was trying to do her job. tacky

      August 4, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
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  21. joeinalabama

    Where I Chic Fil a, I think I would go to where most people don't care what the CEO thinks as long as the product and the service is good. I suspect that that is probably 75% of the country. I would withdraw from Chicago and Boston and their PC politicians and never look back.

    August 3, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  22. Proud to be American

    I would like to remind everyone to be vigilant in protecting their bigotry and ignorance at all costs, otherwise the left leaning commie liberal media will take away your guns, freedoms, and raise your taxes as well as destroy your marriages. In fact if a single gay marriage would occur millions of traditional marriages would spontaneously self destruct and Americans would start to play Gay tea-sipping Cricket instead of masculine tobacco chewing baseball.

    August 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • santi47

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      August 3, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  23. cowstastegood

    I'm going tomorrow just because I go every Friday. PDA is annoying no matter who's doing it. As long as noone gets in the way of my two chicken sandwiches, large waffle fries and Dr. Pepper there won't be a problem

    August 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • lory


      August 4, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  24. newnews

    I would show up because they gave $5 gift ccertificates away...pretty sure most that showed up for that reason. Incentives will draw. Now if they were giving out cholesteral tests that would probably deter a few. The owner can say anything he wants it's his belief. They don't print in on their boxes, bags or put it on their logo. People will continue to kill themselves with crappy food no matter what you say. If this guy really cared about values how about coming up with a better choice than fried everything. He's killing them softly and getting rich doing it.

    August 2, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Truth™@newnews

      You do know that they serve grilled chicken and salads as well, don't you?

      August 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  25. Brastel

    I think some people miss the point in this controversy. Politicians can have personal opinions and make their own personal choices, such as don't eat the chiken. But the audacity of fools like Mobster Don Rham Emanuel (mayor of Chicago) to act as the Thought-police for its citizenry and ignore law by threatening free enterprise and Freedom of Speech (as does his good buddy President Obama) is what the American people should stand against. These "representatives' should be booted from the political body post haste. This is one of numerous reasons for term limits and voting rights legislation requiring stricter standards. Voting is a privilege, not a right. We don't need another term with King Obama and his serfdom playing the race card, class warfare, and the list goes on...

    August 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  26. Hypatia

    because you are a grease-gobbling xian bigot?

    August 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  27. Jay Bama


    August 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • JellyBean

      All I heard was static.

      August 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Hypatia

      cram it clown

      August 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Proud to be American

      Putting things into caps actually makes it harder to read. It would be an issue if the stuff you wrote wasn't actually drivel.

      August 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  28. Mr Kyte.

    I find it funny that many LGBT groups don't want marriage to be called "Gay Marriage" but want to use words like "LGBT dollars"... dollars are dollars. In that respect, ether way you look at it, all companies have the right to support who they want and you have the right to support their views as you did with your restaurant. What you really wan't is Chick-Fil-A to believe what you believe, that's what it boils down to. Your really being a bigot in this case.

    August 2, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Hypatia

      No, chik fil hate wants to deny civil rights to citizens. But you keep drinking your poison Tea and gobbling those greasy chickens and patting yourself on the back. You'll need it when that stroke hits.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
      • Fernando

        I have yet to see ANYONE give one example of Chick-Fil-A firing someone because of their orientation, or denying service or anything for that matter. MR Kyte is correct, the issue here is that the gay ciommunity is going after the restaurants because they have the odacity of not agreeing with them....well boo hoo hoo. Freedom of speach is allowing others to say thing you do not like. Government should not get involved in what is essentially a consumer issue. Deal with it

        August 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
      • Fernando

        I have yet to see ANYONE give one example of Chick-Fil-A firing someone because of their orientation, or denying service or anything for that matter. MR Kyte is correct, the issue here is that the gay community is going after the restaurants because they have the odacity of not agreeing with them....well boo hoo hoo. Freedom of speach is allowing others to say things you do not like. Government should not get involved in what is essentially a consumer issue. Deal with it

        August 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
      • Greg

        What civil right does CFA want to take away? Adults already have the right to marry and that right is not under fire. Adults just don't have the right to marry a person of the same sex, that would be special consideration not a right. So again, what civil right is CFA trying to take away?

        August 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  29. ARE you SERIOUS..

    @Tara C. you are right

    August 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  30. ARE you SERIOUS..

    maybe gays are gay because they cant get a girl.. lol jk

    August 2, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  31. Tara C.

    I'm an atheist, liberal, pro-gay-rights woman, but I believe Chik-Fil-A has a right to its opinion without having the wrath of a nation heaped upon it. It's clear that, in valuing diversity, we are not allowed to have diverse opinions without bullies acting as mindless drones spewing the same type of hate they pretend to combat. CFA is a freaking restaurant chain. If you want change, go protest the politicians that aren't acting to establish gay rights. Also, the picture you posted is clearly a deliberate attempt to make CFA food seem wilted and unappealing. The food is obviously not from Chik-Fil-A, and that little bit of attempted manipulation is just tacky.

    August 2, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Andre

      You are correct Tara; however I absolutely disagree with Dan Cathy, and I will not be returning to his restaurant chain (not that I ate there all that often before this). It is up to the consumer to deal with this matter; we don't need to condemn the man for his opinion, but I believe that since he decided to make his personal stance the stance of his business, he does have the right to be judged by the consumer. There's no point in protesting such a philosophy; simply don't eat there.

      August 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • omar

      you lost me at atheist being that anyone who says in their hearts that there is no God is by definition a fool. I don;t listen to fools.

      August 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

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      Fool – a weak-minded or idiotic person. a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense

      August 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  32. athiest

    I wonder how many ChiKKK fil A employees are g-ay, or even g-ay married.

    ChiKKK fil A is in good company, the first amendment allows hate groups like the KKK to have a discriminatory "opinion" too.

    Good work trashy CNN journalist, The KKK is just "standing up for what it believes in" too.

    August 2, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  33. nibiru

    so now we should only say that we support gays,no other way???are we still a free country ??

    August 2, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • hnm3246

      Perhaps we should just support each other as human beings, period.

      August 2, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
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