By Seth Nidever | The Hanford Sentinel
HANFORD — Who would have guessed that a chicken sandwich restaurant would dominate the national conversation?
That’s been the case with Chick-fil-A, the national chain that made headlines when CEO Dan Cathy said he favors the traditional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
He commented that he prays for “God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”
Cathy’s company financially supports groups that oppose gay marriage. That, together with his comments, set off a firestorm of protests, boycotts, counter-protests and — on Friday — a “kiss-in” by gay groups at Chick-fil-A locations, including the restaurant in Fresno.
The whole flare-up seemed to spotlight a deep divide among Americans on the question of whether marriage should be extended to include gay couples.
But the debate raises a series of other important issues, too, including religious liberty, free speech and what is really meant by separation of church and state.
There is no shortage of local opinions on Cathy’s comments, Chick-fil-A and the whole situation.
Somebody with a unique perspective is Buzz Felleke, a Christian businessman who runs B&D Quality Cleaners, Rebekah’s Espresso and Joshua’s Roasting Co. in Lemoore.
Felleke shares Cathy’s views, and does so openly.
“The basis of society is family, and the way God designed the family is husband and wife with children,” Felleke said. “When we divert from that, the family structure is eroded.”
Felleke said he’s not concerned about backlash against his businesses.
“My source is not people. My source is God,” he said. “I have to believe in spite of the consequences. My belief doesn’t change.”
But for many gays, it’s a clear-cut civil rights issue. If heterosexual unions are given a superior legal status over same-sex unions, gays see that as discrimination, pure and simple.
“Marriage is a civil act, not a religious act,” said Chris Jarvis, president of Gay Central Valley, an organization that started the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center in Fresno. “We are not a church country.”