Targeting the millions of dollars that fast food chain Chick-fil-A gives oppose promote discrimination against gays, equal rights activists in Chicago will re-launch a boycott of the corporation with an evening rush hour protest on Wednesday, August 8th The protest will be at 4:30 PM at the chain's only currently open outlet in Chicago, located at 30 E. Chicago Avenue.
Over a year ago the Loyola University chapter of the National Lawyers Guild launched a boycott of the store, which is leased from the university, but the boycott was little-known off of campus. With the controversy generated by recent statements against same-sex couples by Chick-fil-A corporate leaders, equal rights activists hope to put a larger dent in the firm's bottom line.
"As our movement against Anita Bryant showed a generation ago, even very entrenched bigots can be defeated by smart and effective use of boycotts, demonstrations and other direct mobilizations of LGBTI's and our allies," said Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation, the group which initiated next Wednesday's protest.
Bryant was a former beauty queen and TV spokeswoman for Florida oranges and orange juice. Her anti-gay career was entitled the "Save Our Children" crusade. It led to huge spikes in anti-gay violence in city after city that it visited. A huge proportion of our country's early pro-gay legislation was repealed as a result of Anita Bryant's movement.
"But she was defeated not by an expensive, slick ad campaign run by high-paid consultants," said Thayer, "but by the mobilization of countless thousands of LGBTI's and our allies in the streets of America. The successful boycott of Florida oranges, and the rallies and marches that accompanied it, was our slick ad campaign."
While many charges of censorship have been made against Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno (D-1st) for apparently wanting to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening a store in his ward, GLN contends that both Moreno and his critics miss an important point. While it would be illegal censorship for the government to prevent a business from operating based solely on its leaders' bigoted statements, there is evidence that Chick-fil-A may be in violation of bedrock civil rights principles that should prevent it from operating.
A February 2011 article in the Windy City Times stated that Chick-fil-A founder "Truett Cathy is quoted as openly admitting he prefers married employees, 'believing they are more industrious and productive' [and] anyone who applies for an operator license is asked to "disclose marital status, number of dependents and involvement in 'community, civic, social, church and/or professional organizations.'" Not only does this discriminate against singles in general, but also people in same-sex relationships who, like in Illinois, are not allowed to marry.
For those LGBTI people who do get employed by Chick-fil-A, the corporate culture could be interpreted as constituting a hostile working environment against them. This may not be illegal in much of Chick-fil-A's southern bastions, but is so in Illinois.
For more information about Wednesday's protest, contact the Gay Liberation Network at 773-209-1187 or email LGBTliberation@aol.com .