By John Kruzel ‘14
BROOKLAND – What happens when you take a chicken restaurateur’s controversial statement — cut into pieces and skinned — season it with gay rights and mayoral politics, then deep fry it on Catholic University’s campus?
In a word: #hatechicken.
The national flap over Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s recent outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage has come home to roost at CUA campus, which nests the only Chick-fil-A restaurant in Washington, D.C.
From his Twitter account last week, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray chirped that he would not support an expansion of the fried chicken chain in the District.
“Given my long standing strong support for LGBT rights and marriage equality, I would not support #hatechicken,” Gray wrote.
The latest in a series of mayors to cry foul, Gray lends his voice to a chorus of gay rights activists and other critics who have bird-dogged Chick-fil-A’s president ever since news of his statement against same-sex marriage took flight and ruffled feathers up and down the political pecking order.
“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” said Cathy, who has said previously the company supports “the biblical definition of a family.”
A spokesman for Gray made clear the mayor has no legal authority to clip the company’s wings by barring it from hatching another store in the city.
“We will not support and we don’t want them here,” spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said in response to what the mayor’s office views as Cathy’s cockamamie views. “But if they are legally entitled to a permit, they are legally entitled to a permit.”
Now that the simmering backlash against the Atlanta-based restaurant has gobbled up national media attention and boiled all the way over to CUA, some are wondering whether the school has unwittingly entered a dangerous game of chicken.
For its part, the henpecked Chick-fil-A seems to recognize that even if the sky is not falling, the perceived attempt to put all its eggs in one basket is no paltry affair. While it may appear to be waffling, the restaurant hopes to a lay the issue to rest by incubating a new message that refocuses attention on its famous chicken and grid-shaped fries.
“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect, regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,” said Greg Thompson, director of communications for Chick-fil-A. “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
Though cocksure hardliners are unlikely to pledge forgiveness, the controversy seems to represent a wake-up call to Chick-fil-A. While not counting its chickens before they hatch, the restaurant appears hopeful its new stance will sidestep future crossroads.