It’s no surprise that conservatives co-opted the Chick-fil-A situation as a matter of free speech so that they could portray themselves as the victims. Despite their eager — if not snide — willingness to support the restaurant chain because it gives millions of dollars to anti-gay hate groups and ex-gay ministries, they are now trying to disassociate from the label that they are even anti-gay. Writing on behalf of a coalition of anti-gay organizations (including a litany of hate groups), the Media Research Center claimed today that the media’s accurate descriptions of Chick-fil-A’s positions constituted a “smear campaign” of “hate speech”:
On Thursday morning, the networks continued their smear campaign against Cathy as an anti-gay bigot and Chick-fil-A’s Christian principals as hate speech. CBS This Morning’s anchor Charlie Rose vilified patrons as anti-gay, stating that “thousands went there to eat and to make a statement – a statement against same sex marriage.” On Friday morning, Good Morning America’s Steve Osunsami similarly slandered Chick-fil-A and its leadership, mischaracterizing Chick-fil-A’s pro-traditional marriage stance as a “fight against gay Americans and gay marriage.”
It’s one thing to spin “oppose same-sex marriage” as “defend traditional marriage” — as almost every marriage equality opponent does — but it’s quite another to act as if they mean different things. In almost every media interview with participants in “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” they expressed that they opposed the freedom to marry, and that that was exactly why they felt the need to support Chick-fil-A. There’s nothing “slanderous” about Rose or Osunsami calling a spade a spade, and the liberal media bias is a myth to begin with, especially when it comes to religious perspectives on LGBT issues.
Chick-fil-A very much acts against the interests of LGBT people, as do its defenders. Just because they identify their ideologies as “Christian” makes them no less anti-gay bullies. Despite Brent Bozell’s desire to continue appropriating Christianity and patriotism for social conservatives, it’s hardly accurate to describe Chick-fil-A supporters as “proud Christians or free speech patriots.” Anti-gay is anti-gay, and it’s the LGBT people and allies who’ve lost ties with friends and family because of their obstinate positions against equality — or who feel less safe in their communities because of what they witnessed on Wednesday — who have been hurt the most.