Author Emily Dietle
My focus is on state-church separation & social issues. I'm an avid reader, and feel that one of our most valuable tools is the free movement of information and ideas. | @emilyhasbooks
Over the past two weeks of Chick-fil-A (CFA) drama, the internet has been full of chatter* claiming that Dan Cathy’s views are no different that those previously held by President Obama.
If I can clarify one item in the Chick-fil-A controversy, it is this: President Obama’s views on same-sex marriages or gay people in general are NOT the same as Dan Cathy’s statements about gay people or his non-profit’s consistent donations to anti-LGBT organizations.
The record is clear.
In 1996, we find then Illinois politician Mr. Obama writing to Chicago’s gay newspaper Outlines, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” In 1998 he was undecided. In his 2006 memoir, “The Audacity of Hope,” Senator Obama writes, “I was reminded that it is my obligation not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society, but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided.” One year later, while running for president, Obama stated, “When it comes to federal rights, the over 1,100 rights that right now are not being given to same-sex couples, I think that’s unacceptable.” Obama was searching for the best solution to a pressing social issue of inequality.
The “controversy” and quote-mining comes from Obama’s MTV interview in 2008, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage. But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that’s not what America’s about.” So, Obama held that making laws enforcing inequality based on personal views is un-American.
Over the next four years, we see now President Obama examining, growing, and admitting to past mistakes. “I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage. But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine.” In 2011, Obama after more introspection, “Every single American – gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender – every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It’s a pretty simple proposition.”
Most recently, President Obama provides an explanation for his previous concerns about gay marriage, “I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word `marriage’ was something that invokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth.” Then confirms, “It is important for me personally to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married.” Add to this Obama’s push to repeal DADT, his support of same-sex adoption, and an endorsement of anti-bullying legislation, and we have an image of a man that supports equality for gay-people across the board.
Obama’s thoughtful consideration and progression towards approving same-sex marriage developed while he firmly maintained that equality, above personal opinion, was vital. Take this in contrast to CFA President Dan Cathy’s comments:
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 define what marriage is about.
Completely different. Disparate dialogues. When you add to Cathy’s quote, the financial contributions the Cathy operated WinShape Foundation has smathered onto organizations that promote homophobia*, and their consistent stance against gay couples, it is clear that contrasting Obama’s history on same-sex marriage with Cathy’s views is comparing proverbial apples to oranges. So, if you’re spouting this baloney- stop it, and if you see this baloney flapping around on other articles- speak up!
*Here’s a bit of that online ‘chatter’:
- The CFA Appreciation Day last week worked because regular Americans were fed up with being called bigots for holding the exact same position on gay marriage that Obama held until a few months ago. 1
- As recently as 90 days ago, Cathy and President Barack Obama shared the same view. 2
- President Obama had the same views as Dan Cathy 6 months ago. 3
- Chris Johnson sees a double standard. “He (Dan Cathy) said the exact same thing that President Obama said,” Johnson told Fox News — referring to the president’s past opposition to gay marriage – “And he gets negativity, and Obama gets positivity.” 4
*Equality Matters shows that WinShape has given millions of dollars to anti-gay groups:
From 2003-2008, their IRS records also reveal:
- $4,800 to The Fellowship of Christian Athletes who condemn gay people as living an “impure lifestyle” and have, in conferences, indicated that they support cure attempts with the message that God can deliver people from homosexuality.
- $5,000 to the Alliance Defense Fund who regularly and willfully take on lawsuits that are designed to challenge and roll-back LGBT equality. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Alliance Defense Fund as one of America’s most influential groups fighting against LGBT equality.
- $1,000 to the Family Research Council who have been condemned by a variety of organizations for continued anti-LGBT misrepresentation.
- and $631,000 to the National Christian Foundation which is a grant-making foundation that in turn supports numerous anti-gay organizations such as The Family Research Council and Focus on the Family to name but a few. Chick-fil-A partnered with Focus on the Family for a time in 2005 – Focus on the Family is widely known to advocate religious based sexual orientation change therapy.