Chicken, Cows and the Constitution

Chick-fil-A brand ad image

Chick-fil-A brand ad image

This post is part of a 2012 monthly series of posts on the topic of the U.S Constitution.

Want another example of how U.S. Constitution-related issues surface in our everyday lives?

This week, Dan Cathy, President and COO of one of America’s most famous fast-food chains, Chick-fil-A, made comments in the press that have been interpreted by some as against same-sex marriage, raising a controversy among gay rights activists and politicians.

In response to Cathy’s comments, three big-city mayors, Thomas Menino (Boston), Rahm Emanuel (Chicago) and Edwin Lee (San Francisco), publicly stated that they disagreed with Cathy and would discourage the presence of Chick-Fil-A establishments in their cities.  For example, Emanuel stated, “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” and Lee tweeted, “Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they try not to come any closer.”

So, how does this controversy relate to the U.S. Constitution?  Well, the controversy has raised questions related to our rights to freedom of religion and speech — both of which are rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Specifically, Amendment I “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peacefully assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has publicly disagreed with Menino, Emmanuel and Lee by stating, “trampling on the freedom to marry whoever you want is the same as trampling on your freedom to open a store.”

What do you think?  Do you agree that a COO of a privately-held company like Dan Cathy has a Constitutionally protected right to state his beliefs about gay marriage?  And, do you think that city mayors, like Menino, Emanuel and Lee should have the power to prevent a restaurant like Chick-fil-A from opening in their cities based on the religious-based statements made by that restaurant’s COO?

On a lighter note, I have a question for all of you marketers out there:  what do you think of Chick-fil-A’s 17-year-running renegade Cows brand advertising campaign?

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