UPDATE: Seems like quite a few chicken-loving, same-sex marriage foes turned out for Wednesday’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.
Based on reports from around the country, many Chick-fil-As had lines out the door come lunchtime. Attendees emphasized a mix of support for the company’s stance against equal marriage rights and for what’s being billed as an underlying free speech issue in the initial backlash against the fast food chain’s officially outed politics. Mayors in a handful of cities, including Boston and Chicago, responded to CEO Dan Cathy’s recent remarks on his “Biblical” view of marriage by insinuating that the chain was not welcome within city limits.
Gay rights supporters, meanwhile, are still gearing up for what they’re calling “National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A” on Friday, a name that pretty much explains it all. “Let’s show Chick-fil-A thanks for their support of Love, Equality, and the Real Definition of Marriage! Invite your friends!” organizers said on its Facebook page.
Wednesday, August 1: It’s looking like Chick-Fil-A, already in the middle of the ongoing debate on gay marriage, will serve as ground zero for the increasingly heated culture war this week.
The fast-food chain has long attracted chicken lovers across the political spectrum despite its open alignment with conservative evangelical Christian ideas and organizations that steadfastly oppose same-sex marriages. But that appears to be changing in the wake of CEO Dan Cathy’s recent decision to publicly affirm the company’s “Biblical” view on marriage to the Baptist Press.
Cathy’s comments gained enough media traction to make the company’s history of supporting anti-gay efforts compete with the apparent tastiness of its product, sparking calls for a boycott on the left—and some constitutionally questionable efforts by city mayors to ban the chain—and an outpouring of support from the write-in response.
The competing feelings will be on public display Wednesday, when thousands of Americans are expected to show up at Chick-fil-A chains across the country to take part in the Mike Huckabee-created “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.” At the same time, GLAAD has started its own campaign to make Friday “National Same-Sex Kiss Day,” the Guardian explains, with participants encouraged to take a photo of themselves kissing in, you guessed it, a Chick-Fil-A restaurant.*
It’s unclear how many LGBT advocates and their like-minded allies will lock lips in protest of the chicken chain. But given Huckabee and co.’s reach via cable TV and radio, many observers are expecting a relatively strong turnout from those on the right who oppose gay marriage.
More than 600,000 responded positively to Huckabee’s Facebook invitation, which read,
“Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1. Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant. This effort is not being launched by the Chick Fil-A company and no one from the company or family is involved in proposing or promoting it.”
Supporters of Huckabee’s initiative include a who’s who of the religious right, including Rick Santorum, Rev. Billy Graham, Lou Engle of The Call, and Mike Bickle.
*Correction: Gay rights organizers hope to stage their same-sex kissing protest on Friday, not Wednesday as originally reported.