I choose to eat Chick-fil-A. I choose not to drink Starbucks.

These guys really made out well yesterday. Mooooo.

A little lunchtime quick post.

I have not bought Starbucks coffee since they announced their overt, institutional support for legalizing “gay marriage” in the state of Washington. 

It was a painless decision, really: the coffee is terribly over-roasted and not all that good. Sure, the nearest coffee shop to my office serves Starbucks, but I take this as an incentive and opportunity to reduce my overall dependence on coffee. To be sure, I purchased plenty of it before that announcement. Back then they did provide benefits to same-sex partners of their employees, but that sort of thing is their corporate policy prerogative.  Corporate policies can be whatever the company wants them to be, and the employees are free to work there or not to work there. Free choice. Starbucks is also certainly free to support political causes with their money. And I am free not to support them with mine.

The other day I ate at Chick-fil-A, and I gave the three main reasons why.

In both cases, the decision was mine. I chose to buy Chik-fil-A, and I consistently choose not to buy Starbucks. In neither case is it appropriate for the government to coerce my, or anyone else’s, activity in these matters. The power of government should not be brought to bear against Chik-fil-A because of the opinions of its CEO and founder (regardless of what that opinion is), nor should the government give preferential treatment to Starbucks because of their corporate policies vis-a-vis questions in the political sphere (regardless of what those corporate policies are).

Conversely, I would oppose governments banning Starbucks from a locality due to their support of any given political cause, and I would oppose governments giving Chik-fil-A preferential treatment because of the opinions of their CEO and founder.

But those on the other side of the question don’t seem to have any problem using the power of government to silence political opponents and coerce consciences. 

The governments of Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., and perhaps Philly want to “protect” their citizens, which is their role, but Chik-fil-A is not a criminal enterprise. It’s a chicken sandwich restaurant. If a Chik-fil-A francishee builds a restaurant in a locality one of two things will happen. Either a) the people will choose to buy the sandwiches, thus sustaining the Chik-fil-A franchise and the franchise will stick around; or b) the people will choose not to buy the sandwiches and the franchise will close down. It’s a business: it won’t stick around where it is not wanted.

But that is unacceptable to those on the other side of the question. Whereas I can accept that Starbucks will have a corporate policy to support and promote “gay marriage,” merely opposing the policy by withholding my coffee purchase dollars, the other side cannot stop there: they want to destroy the opposition with the power of government. 

Which side really believes in “live and love and let live,” again? 

Vote with your dollars, by all means. But as soon as you begin using the power of government to crush the opposition you have crossed a dangerous line that you will one day regret crossing when “the devil turns ’round on you.”

“Yes, I give the devil benefit of law for my own safety sake.” — Robert Bolt, “A Man for All Seasons”



  • Antonio A. Badilla

    Today I had the joy to eat at Chick-fil-A here in Los Angeles at Highland and Sunset. I went with my wife and two daughters. We enjoyed our food; and does that mean we hate gays? Of course not. If Chick-fil-A were to announce tomorrow they will discriminate against gays on the basis of sexual orientation, we would never eat there, but to say we support the family, as the owner of Chick-fil-A said, is not a sin, although it is becoming politically incorrect to say so.

  • Chel


    Do they still give money to Planned Parenthood?

  • Benna

    Thank you for the article, Tom.
    (Although, unlike you, I used to drink quite a bit of Starbucks, enjoyed it, and gave gift cards and the mug/coffee/biscuits gift baskets as Christmas presents. No more.)

    So I offer it up, because they are no longer getting a cent from me either.
    (PS – add to that list Ben + Jerry’s ice cream and a few other places… to which replacements can be found.)

  • spelling

    Although the cows are the center of the company’s marketing campaign, they didn’t choose the name of the company — which, despite the conventions of cow-spelling, has two ‘c’s.

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      Yes, thanks. Carelessness on my part.

  • Rob

    I understand your point, but what authority, then, did the federal government have to pass and enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964/65? This is not to start an argument over whether gay rights are similar to the Civil Rights Movement; I’m just curious in your constitutional theory on this one.

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      Precisely that it is in no way parallel. So the argument you don’t want to start is the substance of why your question is irrelevant.

  • David

    Weird. I haven’t seen any laws being passed banning chick-fil-a from any city, town, or state. Was there something that I missed? The Mayor of Boston said that having a Chick-fil-a “on the freedom trail would be an insult.” I don’t see anything in his letter where he suggests the fast food company would be banned from the City. Philadelphia Councilman Jim Kinney told Chick-fil-a to “take a hike and take your intolerance with you.” It seems as though these politicians are simply publicly responding to the comments that Chick-fil-a made on the radio. I thought the answer to free speech that we disagreed with was more free speech. Apparently, that only applies when you agree with it.

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      David— As a lawyer, as you claimed in a previous comment thread, you should know that when a person with his hands on the levers of government power says something like that it’s more than merely “free speech” by any old John Q. Public. Free speech has an entirely different meaning for public officials. Further, you would know, as a lawyer, that there are ways outside of explicit legislation for a government to make life difficult for individuals or a business—e.g., regulatory schemes and interpretation of statutes leading to enforcement.  And I will take this comment of yours to mean that should any of these public officials’ comments be followed by actual legislation or even onerous regulations targeted at stifling Cathy’s speech by punishing his company you will be one of the first to denounce such actions. Can I count on that?

      • David

        Government officials are not banned from speech because they are elected. In fact, it’s their elected status that makes their speech have a different meaning. Again though, none of them ever said chick-fil-a was banned. They said the discrimination chick-fil-a supports isn’t welcome in their communities, and therefore, neither is the company itself. This is merely simple fact and these politicians are supporting the beliefs of their constituents, or what they believe to be the beliefs of their constuents. I would in fact be vehemently against any law to ban chick-fil-a from a city, town, or state because such a law would be unconstitutional.

        • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

          Who said they didn’t have free speech? Not I. But when they speak freely, as is their right, it can suggest the future of policies that they will promote or govern by that will affect the business climate or liberties in general. I can’t believe I have to explain that to a lawyer.

          • Mara

            How does a politician exercising his or her right to free speech cause future policies? That’s stupid. And even if that were true, so what? Should they then never state their views? I want politicians to be honest and open. What do you want? Secrecy?

        • Antonio A. Badilla

          David, you stated “They said the discrimination chick-fil-a supports isn’t welcome in their communities, and therefore, neither is the company itself. This is merely simple fact and these politicians are supporting the beliefs of their constituents.”

          Two points: 1) who are these politicians who think they speak for entire cities? 2) The backlash in those cities from their constituents proves their constituents do not agree with tehm at all. Actually Obama should be talking to those fools on the phone saying, “you blew it and you’re making my reelection harder to achieve.” Why would Obama be involved with this matter. Simple, look at his position on gay marriage which is diametrically opposed to what a lot of voters think, and look at the platform of the Democratic Party and what it says about gay marriage.

      • Sandi

        When will you retract or apologize for the lie that you told claiming that the company was being “banned” from opening in these cities?

        • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

          Sandi — Let’s play a game: you point out where I said that and I’ll think about a retraction. (I’ll give you a hint: I didn’t say that. I spoke in generalities about use and abuse of government power and the possibility of it being brought to bear in support of or opposition to a given company. So you lose. But thanks for playing!)



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