Ray Washburne, who runs M Crowd Restaurant Group — the Dallas-based company that owns Mi Cocina, Taco Diner and other eateries — was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition today, talking about his fundraising for GOP candidates. Seems Washburne was an early supporter of Tim Pawlenty for president, and was disappointed when he dropped out. That meant Washburne had to refocus his fundraising efforts on another candidate, and naturally he chose … Mitt Romney. Yep, not Rick Perry, for whom he has been an ardent monetary supporter as Texas governor. Seems that even a Texas Republican who would benefit having another Texan in the White House, and one he has endorsed in the past, thinks Perry isn’t qualified for the job. You can listen to the audio here.
Now to me, that’s the story — it’s what I intended to blog about as soon as the audio came available. But waiting in my inbox when I arrived at work was an email from a gay Dallasite, encouraging gays not to patronize any of the M Crowd restos.”Before you spend another dime at Mi Concina, Taco Diner or the Mercury you may want to reconsider where you[r] money is going and it’s going to candidates that support anti-gay causes.”
I can’t say I fully agree with my friend on this point. I don’t think giving money to any Republican candidate is, by nature, supporting anti-gay causes. Does Mitt Romney favor same-sex marriage? He most certainly does not — he’s said as much. You know who else has said he does not support same-sex marriage? Barack Obama, who has also made that bias perfectly clear. So, as far as same-sex marriage goes, Romney and Obama seem identical. That does not, of course, mean that Obama is more hostile to gay causes in general, or that Romney is a good candidate for gay voters; it just means that if donating money to a Republican means that your business is “anti-gay” …. well, I think there are a lot of restaurants in town gays might have to boycott.
I’m not doctrinaire on this. I think the gay community should hold individuals and corporations accountable, especially when they take aggressive, anti-gay stances. Certainly you could make the argument that Romney is Mormon, the LDS church was active in enacting Prop 8, and therefore Romney indirectly at least supported such shameful conduct. You just have to be willing to say that all gay Mormons are equally as guilty and should be ostracized and boycotted — not for their pro-gay activism, but for their religious beliefs.
Personally, I’m not religious at all and I don’t support any organized churches for that very reason. But is branding a business like Mi Cocina as anti-gay productive? If we could actually force that company out of business, I imagine a lot more gay people — waitresses, cooks, busboys, delivery men, bartenders, hostesses — would be negatively affected than it would do damage to the GOP. And how devoted are people, really, to this principle? If my friend’s argument is correct, then the only proper moral step a gay person who works for Washburne could do is quit. Should we name-call gay people who work at Taco Diner “traitors” because the head of the company that owns their restaurant likes Tim Pawlenty? What if their immediate supervisor is a member of the tea party? Same rule?
And what about companies other than M Crowd? I wonder if my friend vets every vendor he encounters in one day. I bet it would be physically impossible to buy gasoline from an oil company that doesn’t give money to Republicans. (I bet you couldn’t buy gas from a company that doesn’t give to some Dems, too.) Are you certain that Ralph Lauren, who designed that shirt you’re wearing, didn’t write a check to Ron Paul? Back in 2004, 75 percent of Texas voters voted in favor of the state ban on same-sex marriage. That means about three quarters of the people you meet voted against your rights — maybe even the man who’s interviewing you for a job today. Will you ask him how he voted before accepting that position?
These are always slippery slopes. I’m not saying ignore this, but if our only reaction is to turn our noses up and walk away, what have we won?