It’s very hard not to be angry when you see something like this. It’s even harder, when you know there are people in your life who don’t recognize that their actions are not only funding institutionalized discrimination but are inciting the worst in America.
In my own social networks I’ve watched friends and family discuss this. I’ve seen friendships end and even families torn apart. I don’t think anyone is left unaffected. I can’t even watch the local news without feeling the pit in my stomach after seeing “the support.”
It’s disheartening, it’s infuriating and while I think everyone’s entitled to their opinion it doesn’t mean I’m not hurt. In my last attempt, I’m re-posting a letter that I hope may change some hearts and minds:
If You Ate At Chick-Fil-A Today
- Jennifer King
I know some of you ate at Chick-Fil-A today. I saw the posts scroll through my News Feed about your plans. More importantly, I saw all the cars parked by the Chick-Fil-A near my house, so I know it wasn’t just Facebook talk.
If you ate at Chick-Fil-A today, I need to tell you how badly my feelings were hurt when I drove past the Forum and saw all those cars.
There were a lot of cars — probably twenty or so, actually so many that people were having trouble getting into the Forum because cars were parked on the street turning into the shopping center.
It really shook me to see those cars.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had an experience in your life where you knew you were absolutely not welcome someplace — not because of anything you said or did, but just not welcome because of who you are.
Probably you have, and you know the feeling — how your adrenaline ramps up, and even though you’re trying to play it cool, your hands and voice shake a little.
It’s a terrible feeling, and it’s terrible that feeling is so commonplace that I know you know what it feels like.
I would not have been welcome in that restaurant tonight because of who I am.
If you ate at Chick-Fil-A today, I don’t know if that was your intention to make me feel unwelcome. You probably did not mean to hurt my feelings personally, and I’m sure it wasn’t your intention to make me feel scared.
After all, you have lots of opportunity to say hateful things directly to me here on Facebook if that’s what you meant to do. And none of you ever have.
So I thought I would tell you that my feelings were hurt, and that I was scared. Because that is what you do when someone you know hurts your feelings, and you value them enough as a person not to just walk away from them.
Let me tell you why my feelings were hurt so badly, and why I was so scared.
If you are married, or if you have been married, or if you intend to be married someday, and you are straight, I do not have the same rights as you.
Many of the rights that you have when legally married are rights I would like to have. I would like to have them, but I have managed to work my life around not having them fairly successfully.
For example, a married couple can file their taxes jointly. I would like to be able to file my taxes jointly with Heather, but missing out on that tax deduction doesn’t break us.
Also, if Heather dies before me, I will not be able to draw upon her Social Security. But we have plans in place for that, so that one of us can still be okay financially if the other dies unexpectedly or young. I tell myself that those plans will be enough.
But if you are married, or if you have been married, or if you intend to be married someday, and you are straight, there is one right you have that I am terrified of being denied.
Unmarried couples do not have the legal right to visit each other in the hospital.
If Heather is in a car accident tomorrow, and the ambulance takes her to a religious-based hospital, I do not legally have the right to be with her in her hospital room. I do not have the right to get updates on her condition from her doctor.
I have to hope that each doctor and each shift of nurses I interact with takes pity on me and lets me in. I have to hope that the doctor doesn’t refuse to speak to me because I’m not legally part of her family.
Think of the family members you love — your husbands, your wives, your children. Imagine how frightening it would be to know that they are ill, and perhaps in pain, and you cannot be there to stand with them.
Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have the legal right to help them through something like that. To witness for them, or to advocate for them with their medical team, or just to be there to hold their hand.
You may think that doctors and nurses wouldn’t do that to a patient. I hope you are right. It is quite literally my greatest fear. My heart is pounding even thinking about it.
It’s not like anyone can survive a lifetime without going into the hospital. That’s not an optional part of life, and it’s not something that I can plan for or around.
So if you ate at Chick-Fil-A today, that is why you hurt my feelings. You enjoyed some tasty chicken, and defended someone’s right to free speech, and that is all well and good. You have the right to do that.
But you also reminded me that in the eyes of Texas law and federal law that I am less than you. That my family is legally less than yours. That a future moment of pain and sorrow — which visits all families — could be so, so much worse for me than it is for you. Just because of who I am, and who I love.
That is what I thought about when I saw all those cars.
I also thought about unfriending those of you who ate at Chick-Fil-A today, because it felt like I would be protecting myself a little bit. Or at least saying nasty things to you on Facebook to distract myself from my fear.
But I can’t really protect myself unless or until our laws are changed. And my fear of your judgement, or anger, or disagreement pales in comparison to that fear of being in a hospital room alone, with Heather unable to be with me.
Or to be sitting in a waiting room, unable to be with her because a doctor or nurse who doesn’t know either of us has the legal right to tell me to get out.
I don’t know what else to say. If you can’t imagine yourself being in that situation, and how helpless you would feel, we probably don’t have much in common.
And if you genuinely think I deserve that situation because of who I love, I don’t know what to tell you, except that I wish you had told me that earlier, so that I could have spent less time with you online or in real life.
I hope you enjoyed your chicken.