Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chick-Fil-A-, Kissing, and Other (Better) News

--Kaylia Metcalfe and Chris Jarvis

As you are probably aware, Chick-Fil-A has been in the news lately.

First as a company reported to give a lot of money to groups like NOM and Focus on the Family who work to keep the right to marry from the LGBT community.

But were those numbers recent? Did the company actively support these bigoted leanings… or was it just the attitude of a few high level people?

Earlier this month, Dan Cathy, president of Chick-Fil-A, conceded that his company is opposed to gay marriage. The distinction of him personally being opposed to gay marriage and his company being opposed is a major one, and one that got a lot of attention.

All over the country gay-rights groups rallied and events and protests were planned. YouTube videos galore were uploaded with people ranting and planning and sharing their frustrations. Of course, this wasn’t one sided. Sarah Palin, along with other right wing political personalities, came out swinging for the other side calling for church groups and the like to eat more chicken.

Here at home, Gay Fresno, (a privately run website) is planning on taking part of the National Chick-Fil-A Kiss-In event which encourages same sex couples to visit the restaurant and kiss each other as a protest. The event is set for this Friday -Aug 3rd- at the local franchise in River Park. The Fresno Bee covered this upcomingevent and the comments section of the article was soon filled with vitriol, again from both sides.

**Gay Fresno, you might remember used to be a part of Gay Central Valley but who split off to do its own thing back in May. Gay Fresno is a privately run website –not a nonprofit-, while Gay Central Valley is a nonprofit official 501(c)3 organization. For more information about the difference and some other good-to-know terms, please read this.)**
Gay Central Valley does not agree with the donations Chick-Fil-A is making to anti-gay groups. We do, however, believe that in America, the restaurant chain has every right to operate. Our goal is to inform and educate the public about how companies use the money they get from the public so that we, as Americans, can decide where we want to spend our money and where we do not. We will not patronize Chick-Fil-A and we encourage others to do the same.

As we work to inform and educate, we also want to take a moment in this current whirlwind storm of drama and anger to share with you some positive information. It is true that Chick-Fil-A, as a company, does not support gay marriage. But it is also true that other big (and bigger) corporations DO support gay marriage.

For example, Jeff Bezos, founder of, joined Bill Gates in financial support of LGBT rights when he recently donated $2.5 million to keep same-sex unions legal in Washington. Other companies on board with equality include Starbucks, Nike, General Mills, and Nabisco.

"Companies are a bellwether of what is in the mainstream," says Marc Solomon the national campaign manager for Freedom to Marry –talking to the San Jose Mercury News earlier this week-. "When you have some of the mainstays of corporate leadership stand up, that's important. It sends a powerful message about where our society is right now." We couldn’t agree more, and we want to thank these companies as well as the many many allies here in Fresno, straight allies as well as LGBT community members, for their support.

With the November election less than 100 days away, we at Gay Central Valley want to focus on our allies, and the uphill battles that are being fought all over this country.

There are four states with gay marriage measures on the ballot this November. Washington and Maryland both legalized gay marriage this year, but will also have public referendums this fall. In Maine, voters will decide on an initiative to approve same-sex marriage three years after voters overturned a state law. In Minnesota, voters will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

With this in mind, Gay Central Valley is choosing to put its attention on working with our allies to build community and continue to change the hearts and minds of those who voted to deny us rights back in 2008.

As many have already pointed out, a Kiss-In, aimed to enrage and antagonize, might not be the best use of our time and energy. However, we understand the frustrations felt by our community members and our allies. It can sometimes be a relief to take action, even if that action is more short term oriented than long term. But let's remember that Chick-Fil-A has the choice, as with every other company in America, to spend their money where they wish. We, in turn, have the choice to access that information and to no longer patronize businesses we feel step on our equality or rights as Americans. While a National Kiss In may get a lot of press, it will be short term and may throw more negative light on our community. Kissing as protest does not demonstrate the power we have as a community. It may, in fact, demonstrate our lack of political savvy. The best way to deal with this issue is to no longer patronize the business, and encourage your family and friends to do the same.

For those of who you plan on being at the Gay Fresno rally on Friday, we encourage you to consider the goals as well as the possible negative ramifications of such an event. We encourage you to not sink to the level of spectacle or anger and bitterness portrayed by those on the other side of the protest lines. And above all, we encourage you to be safe.

Yes, Chick-Fil-A has been in the news a lot this week… but as we head into this election cycle, they won’t be the last of the hurdles that we, as a community, will need to deal with. Let us be encouraged by the support from our allies, both corporate and individual, Let us proceed with caution and grace.


  1. Why the digs at Gay Fresno? I don't know the back story but the bitterness seems counterproductive. As for the rest of your message, it's quite condescending toward the gay community to imply that those participating in the kiss-in won't be able to contain themselves and will stoop to some level you disapprove of. Whose side are you on?

  2. Kaylia and Chris,

    I see you both dissing me on Facebook for leaving an anonymous comment (see above.) If you don't want anonymous comments, disable the feature. Knowing who's asking shouldn't have any impact on the answer to the questions. It sounds like you're just looking for ways to discredit the person asking. I left my comment anonymously before because I don't use any of the sites provided as options. I'll use name/URL this time (though I don't have a URL) because apparently that's the difference between a comment being deemed valid and a comment being discounted. I re-read your piece and feel that my questions/comments are still valid.

    1. Deb, thanks for asking these questions. I agree there is too much in fighting in the glbt community. And gay central valley is right along with the rest, slinging mud. It is a discredit to them and the other groups. If they want to go around educating 1 they should have looked on facebook and asked attandees questions there, in person, to be educated themselves. and 2 they should go out and put put information on each and every group in town and say who is and isn't a non profit. not just cherry "pick on" another group that don't like. It's childish, at best. let us hope they learned from hearing from us.

    2. Gee, did you even read the article? No one needed education, they didn't misrepresent the rally on Friday and they did write about other organizations that are non profits (in an earlier article). It's like you showed up with a axe to grind and nothing will make you happy. Take a chill pill already.

  3. Deb, thank you for adding your name to your comment. We're not sure we understand your suggestion that there were "digs" at Gay Fresno. If you're referring to our letting people know the details of each organization, that is in response to the many questions we've had since the split, particularly about how donations to each group are used, who is tax exempt and who is not, etc.

    To suggest that Gay Central Valley is on a side other than for the LGBT Community seems silly to us. We are all volunteer and work every day of every week of every year to support the community, and have done so for many years, through information, community events, opportunities, reporting, etc.

    We also operate the only LGBT Community Center between Bakersfield and Sacramento, which provides a wide variety of LGBT social and support groups at no cost to the community.

    As for the "Kiss In", we are aware, due to our participation at many, many protests in the past, that these things can get out of control and we are simply cautioning those attending. We understand well how these media events can escalate. Our only concern is the LGBT Community.

    Hopefully, this addresses your questions, which we also feel are valid.

  4. It seems to me that an event such as a "Kiss In" is just an idea to get press and seem like an act of civil disobedience and non-violent protest, but will most likely lead to side choosing by talking heads on TV than actually getting anything done. Plus, if you are hanging about in a business and not buying anything, they can ask you to leave, and if you don't, they can call the police, but depending upon how busy the police are, they might not show up for someone refusing to leave but not acting violent during business hours. With all that said, I think acting with your wallet shows more to businesses than anything else. Tell all your friends and family not to eat there, ever. Declining profits speak louder to a business than a single day of mock civil disobedience.


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