As Atlanta-based chicken chain Chick-fil-A digs itself out of a deep fryer with some consumers, conservative backers of the company with the religious ingredients say the controversy is being baked with the help of a liberal, lesbian media. Color us surprised that conservatives would take a Sarah Palin-esque approach – you betcha, blame the lamestream media – to this controversy, which really has its origins in the company itself and misleading statements from its president. But now, conservative critics say the latest fuel to the fire – a New York Times piece on Jan. 29 – is the work of a lesbian foodie who supports gay marriage. As if an LGBT reporter can’t objectively write about a story with a gay issue. But that’s exactly the claim made by the conservative watchdog Media Research Center, which took issue with Kim Severson (photo), the New York Times Atlanta bureau chief, longtime food writer and lesbian who wrote the recent piece.
The controversy involves the conservative religious views of the family owners -- specifically, the restaurant sponsoring a local marriage seminar from a Pennsylvania group perceived as anti-gay: “A Chicken Chain’s Corporate Ethos Is Questioned by Gay Rights Advocates.” The story brings two Severson strands together: Foodie Severson is also openly gay, supports gay marriage, and has served as vice-president of the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. The Times proves once again it is not overly concerned with the religious sensibilities of Christians with its cavalier reference to "Jesus chicken."Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin chimed in with this:
Over the weekend, New York Times reporter Kim Severson gave the Chick-Fil-A bashers a coveted Sunday A-section megaphone – repeatedly parroting the “Chick-Fil-A is anti-gay” slur and raising fears of “evangelical Christianity’s muscle flexing” with only the thinnest veneer of journalistic objectivity. Severson, you see, is an openly gay advocate of same-sex marriage equality herself and the former vice-president of the identity politics-mongering National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. In a bitter op-ed on gay marriage laws not changing quickly enough, she asserted: “I don’t want the crumbs. I want the whole cake.” Severson has voiced complaints about her social and economic status as an unwed lesbian with a partner and child in several media publications.The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association has taken to Severson’s defense, pointing out the silliness of the argument.
For NLGJA, the question is whether someone who has written about her personal relationships and personal questions about getting married is barred from covering a dispute that involves same-sex marriage. The answer, of course, is no. LGBT journalists–even married LGBT journalists–can write about same-sex marriage without it become a political agenda. LGBT journalists constantly straddle the ethical questions of writing about LGBT issues while also being gay or lesbian or transgender. Just as a conservative Christian reporter can write objectively about abortion or gay rights and an African American reporter can write objectively about President Obama, so can an LGBT journalist write objectively–as Severson has–about LGBT issues without “furthering an agenda.”While Chick-fil-A sorts out whether the chain and its WinShape Foundation want the gays or not, what’s a hungry gay to do? Eat at Chili’s but definitely not these places. Photo courtesy Getty