As great blows for freedom go, it wasn't Rosa Parks sitting at the front of the bus or Martin Luther nailing his demands on the cathedral door. But some Americans, in Toledo and elsewhere, lined up to eat chicken sandwiches last week to make a point.
That was their right, but Chick-fil-A "appreciation day" -- as sincere as it was -- had a touch of the absurd. It has come to this: Americans become agitated over the separation of church and chicken.
Chick-fil-A is a fast-food company run on Biblical principles. Its devoutly Christian owner, Dan Cathy, told the Baptist Press last month that his company, which closes on the Sabbath in adherence to its views, supports "the Biblical definition of the family unit."
This put the company into a hot broiler of the culture wars, the issue of same-sex marriage. Americans can freely state and act on their principles. Other Americans can criticize them for it. That's how the First Amendment works.
Those diners who came out in part because they thought that Chick-fil-A was being denied its First Amendment rights were wrong. That amendment prohibits Congress from passing laws that are harmful to the free exercise of religion.
But Congress hasn't done so. Those mayors around the country who have suggested that the company is not welcome in their cities can't bar it because of its principles.
Those who made a point by eating chicken sandwiches were supporting a company under fire and probably stating their opposition to gay marriage as well. But no amount of defiant dining is likely, in the long run, to defeat the growing recognition that gay people should be allowed to marry their loved ones as a matter of simple justice.
Chick-fil-A is already halfway there. The company's stated policy is to treat all customers with honor, dignity, and respect. If Mr. Cathy could extend that principle by concentrating on his business and leaving the morals to his customers, everybody would be better off.