I am not nearly as concerned with public boycotts of Chick-fil-a as I am with the potential abuse of government power by the mayors of Chicago and Boston. I’m glad to see that the editors of The National Review agree with me on this point in their article on the Chick-fil-a controversy. While defending Chick-fil-a executive Dan Cathy, the editors come down hard on Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago. They write:
Bigotry should be made of sterner stuff. Mr. Cathy did not even target homosexuals, and his reference to being married to “our first wives” indicates that his criticism of the recent decay of marriage is by no means limited to the question of same-sex marriage. But even if it were, it would be worth noting that opposition to gay marriage was until the day before yesterday the official position of President Barack Obama and his administration. It was certainly the position of the administration while Mr. Emanuel served in it — not to mention the position of the Clinton administration when Mr. Emanuel served in it, too. If a Chick-fil-A franchisee is a detestable bigot because his boss — a private-sector CEO — opposes gay marriage, what does that make Mr. Emanuel, whose boss opposed gay marriage as president of these United States?
Indeed the inconsistency on the part of Emanuel is staggering, not to mention unconstitutional. Mayor Tom Menino of Boston is no less culpable of moral and legal error.
Early this morning, the Baptist Press reported that both mayors have begun backpedaling on their threats to block Chick-fil-a. I am happy to hear that. But I am still very concerned about what we witnessed this week. The mayors showed us their hand. They revealed exactly how far they would go to discriminate against those who hold to traditional marriage. And they only pulled back from the brink after the backlash became too intense and the constitutional issues clear. In other words, we found out what they would do if they thought they could get away with it.
This time, they didn’t get away with it. Will there come a time when they—or some other person in a position of power—will get away with it? I believe there may be. Polls show the coming generation of young Americans to be very accepting of gay marriage. The demographic trends are going against defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Those trends indicate that there will come a time when the backlash against such action will be negligible and won’t be anything like we saw this week. Will the politicians back down from their threats when that day comes? When traditional marriage supporters are the clear minority?
Christians will have to remain vigilant. I believe that the controversy this week is only a foretaste of the religious liberty issues that we will face in coming days over the issue of gay marriage. This controversy is not ultimately about Chick-fil-a or boycotts. It’s about whether or not private citizens can hold views contrary to their government. It could hardly get more serious than that.