Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: Jim Henson Co., Chick-Fil-A and the gay marriage debate

Published: Sunday, July 29 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

This Thursday, July 19, 2012 file photo shows a Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant in Atlanta. Earlier this month, Chick-fil-A set off a furor opposing same-sex unions. Other companies are brushing off fears that support for gay marriage could hurt their bottom line.

Mike Stewart, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

When I go through the drive-through at a fast-food restaurant, the last thing on my mind is, “Hmm, I wonder what this chain’s stance is on gay marriage?”

Nope. All I want to know is whether they remembered ketchup with my fries.

So when I heard about Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy coming out against gay marriage, I was a little surprised.

When asked about his previous statement about supporting traditional family values, Cathy said that while not popular, they intend to “stay the course.”

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” he told the Baptist Press.

"We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

His comments have caused quite a stir, even moving the Jim Henson Co. to consider pulling its toys from upcoming kids meals.

“The Jim Henson Co. has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over 50 years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors,” read a statement on the Jim Henson Facebook page.

I find it ironic that we frequently boast of our country’s freedom of speech, freedom to express ourselves and freedom to stand up for that which we believe in, and then are so quick to condemn others for doing the same.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino even vowed to ban the chain from opening a restaurant in the city.

This is going way too far.

On the one hand, I don’t think it was a very smart business decision for Cathy to make those comments. On the other, I think it’s just as dangerous for the Jim Henson Co. to make a statement against Chick-Fil-A and possibly alienate people who may be supportive of Cathy’s viewpoint.

I have several friends and family members who support gay marriage. We’ve had lively discussions about our differing beliefs. But nothing they say would make me love them less, or stop supporting them as people I care about.

I think it’s important to take a stand for what you believe in. I strongly believe in supporting the traditional family unit. But that’s not going to make me stop watching “The Muppets."

If we really are as accepting as we all claim to be, wouldn’t we respect other opinions, even if they differ from our own? If Cathy’s comments about gay marriage make you want to stop eating at his restaurants, fine.

But I’m certainly not going to let a restaurant's stance on the issue of gay marriage determine whether or not I eat there.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.

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