Rule No. 1 in business is know your customers.
And with that, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy has poked the power base that will trounce his opposition to same-sex marriage.
It just won’t happen immediately.
In time, today’s college students will push this debate where it needs to go — packed up as a relic from a less enlightened era. Younger generations tend to think the views of Cathy are head-scratchingly irrelevant.
Polling shows the shift. People grow up now knowing classmates who came out, family members who identify as gay and long-term, committed relationships of same-sex couples.
The quaking tomes portraying Sodom and Gomorrah don’t play well with them. They know better by personal experience.
The idea that gay people can’t partake in the benefits and responsibilities of legal marriage based on some people’s religious views strikes younger people as unfair.
Many roll their eyes when attitudes like Cathy’s make headlines, as the fast-food leader did last week:
“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,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about,” said Cathy, the son of the chain’s founder.
In reaction, a few politicians opened their mouths before thinking. They insinuated that Chick-fil-A might find it difficult to get permits to open new stores. That ignorance came from leaders in Boston, San Francisco and Chicago. They were quickly put in their place: free country, free speech.
Chick-fil-A leadership has always been open about adhering to a conservative, religious-influenced perspective. Chick-fil-A has not been accused of discriminating in its hiring or treatment of customers. They’ve never crossed that line.
But free speech works both ways. Among the universities with Change.org petitions to remove Chick-fil-A from campus are the University of Kansas and University of Missouri-Kansas City. (Comments riffing on the separation of church and chicken are priceless.)
Expect some funky chicken protests this week.
But it shouldn’t shock that the ruckus also is drawing supporters of Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay-marriage position.
Former wannabe president Mike Huckabee’s Facebook page pushing for Wednesday to be National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day had 400,000 followers Sunday.
For Huckabee’s generation, this is still a hand-wringing issue keeping them up at night.
But it’s a younger, wiser generation that will lead.