I'm not getting in the middle of this other than to say that the responses of the moronic mayors (Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Edwin Lee of San Francisco, and Thomas Menino of Boston), who supposedly serve the interests of all residents of their cities not just the majority, were despicable. As Voltaire stated, "I disapprove of what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." This should be the response of any politician, but these guys instead took on the typical politician's stance, falling to the ground and kowtowing to their political base rather than standing up for principle and defending the rights of even those with whom they disagree, as they swore to do when they took office.
But the primary lesson is for managers to refrain from putting the reputations of their companies they manage and own on the line by making political statements. Although Chick-Fil-A is privately owned, a CEO of a publicly traded company jeopardizes the investments of shareholders.
The other lesson is the response Mr. Cathy's statements generated. They appeared to have backfired. But then again, here is an interesting history of boycotts.
But beyond their commercial effect, boycotts, even losing ones, have a way of highlighting a cause. They connect individuals to larger political forces that otherwise feel abstract and distant. For Chick-fil-A, that means the broader question of gay rights. Huckabee’s consumer action could generate more debate about same-sex unions than a ballot initiative would have -- and far more direct reflection on individual responsibility and agency. The boycott and counter-boycott gave consumers a stark choice, and a clear connection between their actions and their beliefs.