The hullabaloo over gay marriage and Chick-fil-A exposes three astonishing falsehoods of modern political economy that distract us from weightier issues.
The first is the notion that the institution of marriage is something the government should control. The same folks who brought you Solyndra, the Bridge to Nowhere and the current IRS code have no business regulating marriage.
Quite simply, government ought to remain neutral on the ways in which families organize themselves. It is for people and religions to decide the structure of marriage. In this debate within churches, all voices can be welcome and individuals can choose according to conscience.
For the record, I married the same girl twice—once in a civil ceremony and once in a church service—and I cannot rationally, or within my heart, oppose gay marriage. I do not know where my church will stand on the matter, but because my denomination has clearly understood the word of Christ on such matters as “automatic weapons conversion kits,” I expect to be entertained by the debate.
The second great fallacy is the notion that the “progressive leaders” of some of our great cities possess even modest attachment to the Bill of Rights. The ease with which Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in particular abandoned the First Amendment astonishes the senses. Although his efforts to block Chick-fil-A from opening a store in the city brought swift and certain criticism from many quarters, the Department of Justice has not yet begun an investigation into violations of the civil rights of those who spoke against gay marriage. Go figure.
Finally, this episode again exposes the swindle that is the corporate social responsibility movement. After a decade and a half of cajoling corporations to sign onto an ever-widening list of pet causes, the movement is faced with its greatest threat—a company that chooses a cause that does not fit the CSR movement’s playbook.
While I do not agree with Chick-fil-A’s position, it undoubtedly springs from the well of conscience. This is a company that is known for treating employees and suppliers well, investing in its communities and its workers, and closing on Sundays to allow its staff members to have time with their families. In short, Chick-fil-A is a poster child for corporate social responsibility, yet it opposes one pantheon of the progressive agenda. The CSR folks must be chasing their hairless tails.
Recognizing families of different kinds is a compelling economic issue. This discussion must expose the essence of what government can and should do. It clarifies how the Bill of Rights must frame all matters of governance, big and small, in a republic that has ambitions of permanence.
And best of all, it exposes the patent silliness of what the CSR movement has become: All of this manifests itself in a decision on where chicken sandwiches are sold.•
Hicks is director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.