The Madison Mallards baseball organization has been a part of our community for the better part of the past two decades. In recognizing the team's prominence in our city, as well as the important role their business relationships play in representing what the organization stands for, the Mallards announced on Tuesday their decision to drop a business relationship with the chicken fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A.
It's an important choice that the organization explained in a poignant way on social media.
"For nineteen years, the Mallards have prided ourselves on building an experience focused on fun and inclusion while working hard to stay away from the sometimes negative energy that can surround day-to-day life around us," the Mallards wrote in a Facebook post explaining the decision. "In that spirit, today we are announcing that we are ending our relationship with Chick-fil-A."
The chicken company's record against the LGBTQ community has been documented for quite some time. In recent days, one of the company's executives spoke out about why the company continues to donate to children's groups that have anti-LGBTQ leanings, calling it "a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that’s being waged," according to reporting from HuffPost.
The CEO of the company, Dan Cathy, is also an ardent opponent of marriage equality, Forbes reported in 2014.
In other words, Chick-fil-A has drawn a line in the sand: the company doesn't want to promote inclusion or equality, and feels it's in its interests to support bigoted organizations.
It's within Chick-fil-A's rights to do so. It's also within others' rights to speak out against such decisions, to encourage boycotts against companies that behave in such ways, and for other businesses or organizations to take note of those companies' standards and react accordingly.
That's precisely what the Mallards are doing this week.
The baseball team recognized its mistake in starting a business relationship with the chicken company to begin with. "Simply put, our corporate values do not align," the Mallards said in their social media post. "We made a mistake not realizing the negative impact of our decision and the people this would offend and for that, we sincerely apologize."
The organization went on, explaining why its values differ from Chick-fil-A's.
"For the record, we are and always have been supportive of everyone’s lifestyle and we support our LGBTQ friends without question. We intend for the Duck Pond to be a place where everyone feels welcome," the Mallards said.
The decision by the team to end a business partnership over a social issue is one that will likely come with some consequences. Already within the team's Facebook post, there are a few comments from fans who oppose their decision (and in at least one instance, an individual called the choice an "anti-Christian" one).
But for the most part, it seems — based on a majority of comments made on the team's Facebook post — fans are happy about the decision. As well they should be: it is a moral one that exemplifies the organization's dedication toward being inclusive to all who enjoy the game of baseball within Madison.
The Mallards ought to be commended for their decision. Other businesses in the area and beyond Madison should consider behaving similarly if they, too, support the ideal of equality for those within the greater LGBTQ community.
Chris Walker is a Madison-based freelance political writer.
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