No one knows better than I do how it feels to be called a bigot after speaking about a belief. As a person who has felt the full weight of that accusation in the fallout of my potty debacle last year, I have a word of advice to Dan Cathy: Be grateful for the opportunity for equality you set in motion. Chik-fil-gate has been a key moment for civil rights and it might not have happened without his words (however disagreeable they were.)
Not only is happiness built on gratefulness to begin with, but Dan Cathy should see his situation as a gift, one of an enormous wave of change in this country. Marriage rights and those who support it have been the quiet majority for a long time and now have an avenue to speak up. Dan Cathy, although he didn't intend this path, should rejoice in being a catalyst for change for an oppressed group. He should delight in his mistake because it had the effect of making a better world for those he spoke out against, which is a better world for everyone. This storm won't last. Look at the civil rights movement of the 60's. Now we have a black president. Everybody sing!
(If anyone is interested, my three-year-old told me today she is grateful for pencils and daddy's wine. Hey, sometimes you just list the things you see in your kitchen. Not all of us can spark a national debate.)
Although what happened to Dan Cathy was in some respect, a matter of chance. He was an unwitting spark in an explosive movement that had been brewing beneath the surface for decades. If it wasn't him, it would have been someone else's bigoted comments next week. His comment might have been ignored even six months ago. But the intersection of time and cultural climate was a perfect storm for a casual remark against gay marriage rights to ignite the fire that it did.
The reality is this national conversation needed to happen. In some respect, Dan Cathy was a pawn. I don't believe he intended make an agenda of oppressing gays and obviously marriage rights aren't up to him anyway. He's a guy who owns a sandwich shop. But his opinion mirrors an enormous, quieter public that needed standing up to. This opinion that the "biblical relationship" of a heterosexual, nuclear family is the only right way is not harmless. What if Dan Cathy, echoing a long-standing consensus, had said he believed in the "biblical relationship" of a master and a slave? There's plenty of slavery in the Bible, not to mention some pretty wild marriage configurations. On the other side of it, some truly loving and accepting Christians feel defensive. They are tired of the extreme methods of the "gay agenda". They feel Dan Cathy is just a humble, pious man exercising his freedom of religion.
To be sure, the conversation has been rough. There has been ammunition and even hate from both sides. But ultimately we can't help but learn from each other, Dan Cathy included. And that should feel great once the smokes clears.
Mr. Cathy, thanks for the conversation.