Friday, August 03, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #67 - Part 2

Good news on same-sex marriage

After that, I need some good news. So here's some.

The government of Scotland has announced plans to legalize same-sex marriages. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last week that legislation permitting the marriages would soon be introduced and is sure to pass because it has the backing of all the major Scottish political parties. Scotland thus could become the first part of the UK to allow same-sex marriages.

The UK government has conducted what they call a public consultation, inviting public comment and so forth, on legalizing same-sex marriages but officials are waiting for the results before taking further steps - that is, they're waiting to make sure it's politically safe. But since legalization is endorsed by Prime Minister David Cameron, it can't be too far out there as a position.

But in a real surprise, Vietnam is considering recognition of same-sex marriages. Vietnam is hardly a bastion of human rights and until just a few years ago, homosexuality was labeled as a "social evil" alongside drug addiction and prostitution, so this is a real shift.

It's unclear just what form such recognition would take or even if the idea will survive the coming intra-governmental debates. But the very fact that it's being considered is a major step forward. Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong described it as facing reality. If it does come to pass, Vietnam will be the first nation in Asia to take that step.

Here at home there is some interesting news on this front, particularly as it reflects changing attitudes. Among those who follow the issue, the Chick-fil-A fast food chain had long been known for its anti-same-sex-marriage stance, contributing millions of dollars to groups opposing recognition. But something happened recently that brought attention to the company: A couple of weeks ago, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy was asked about those reports of its anti-gay stance and answered "Well, guilty as charged." That flip response, along with his insistence that "We are very much supportive of the family - the biblical definition of the family" and "We ... operate on biblical principles" struck a nerve and there were calls to boycott the chain. Those calls were countered by folks like Mike Huckleberry, Rick IshouldbeinaSanitarium, and Sarah Failin', among others, who urged people to eat more Chick-fil-A.

So what's happened? YouGov is a polling organization that tracks, among other things, approval scores for members of the Top National Quick Service Restaurant Sector - that is, the leading fast food chains. Just before the interview was published, Chick-fil-A's index score was 65, well above the average score for the sector of 46. Just four days later, Chick-fil-A's score had fallen to 47 and last week, it was down to 39, below the sector average score of 43.

If you celebrate your opposition to equal rights for same-sex couples - yes, your customers do care. And that is good news.

Footnote: I didn't refer to "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" because it was happening on August 1, the same day the show was taped, so I had no info on how well or badly it had gone. Apparently, it was a success for the anti-rights crowd, with large turnouts and long lines. Disappointing, but not surprising: We all know the haters are still out there in considerable numbers. Still, one day is not the issue; the longer-term is the issue. And on that score, I would say the YouGov results mean a lot more than a single day's fast food choice.


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