by Leah Waldron
Just one day after a public hearing on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed 16-ounce sugary fountain drink limit, the New York City mayor announced that Chick-Fil-A is welcome in his city—despite the fact that Chick-Fil-A opposes civil rights (gay marriage equality). On the “John Gambling Show,” Bloomberg said that picking and choosing which business comes and goes is “just not government’s job.”
If Bloomberg can ask the New York City government to legislate what New Yorkers drink, why not take an official stand on what they eat? As a private business, Chick-Fil-A not only opposes gay marriage, it funds anti-gay organizations like the Marriage & Family Foundation, Exodus International and the Family Research Council. To put this in perspective, what if the CEO of McDonald’s announced that he was anti-Semitic (Guilty as McCharged!) Would Bloomberg stand by new McDonald’s contracts because it is “just not government’s job?” What if Chick-Fil-A gave millions of dollars to the K.K.K.? (Which, by the way, would be perfectly legal).
A mayor has a responsibility to do what is best for his constituents. Like the direct relationship between sugar drinks and childhood obesity, there is a correlation between the groups Chick-Fil-A funds and childhood anti-gay bullying, homelessness and suicide. For every dollar spent on a Chick-Fil-A meal, a portion of the proceeds is eventually donated to organizations that tell gay children (and adults) that they are less-than-equal to the rest of the population. And if a gay kid doesn’t hear this, the kid who beats him up at school hears it, and he makes sure to pass along the message. If corporations are people, allowing Chick-Fil-A into your town is like giving your lunch money to a bully, who then uses your cash to buy a bigger stick to hit you with.
Mayor Bloomberg’s point that government should not interfere with private restaurant zoning would be salient if he was not already interfering with the restaurants in his city. I’m not a private business owner, but I can’t imagine that it would be easy to completely zero out your fountain cup inventory and start again with a 16-ounce size. Not to mention what a smaller drink size would do to your profits. Is regulating cup sizes “government’s business?”
But let me be clear, I commend Bloomberg on his decision to ban super-sized, “bladder busting” fountain drinks. If you’ve visited a water park this summer, you’ve probably noticed the rising problem with Americans and obesity. The monumental increase in fountain drink sizes is, if not a direct cause, a contributing factor to our new “normal,” and Bloomberg is just doing his part to help New Yorkers (and their kids) get healthy and live longer lives.
I get it.
But there’s nothing more healthy than actually being alive, enduring a day at school without having to physically defend yourself, and making it to your 18th birthday without getting kicked out of your house for being gay. When Chick-Fil-A perpetuates hatred via its anti-gay rhetoric and anti-gay fundraising, it does more damage than a 16-ounce-plus soft drink ever could.
So let’s keep Chick-Fil-A out of a great city like New York. (And Bloomberg, in case you were wondering, a large Chick-Fil-A fountain drink is 22.5 ounces.)