Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, with its chicken-munching supporters and vuvuzela-tooting protesters, has come and gone. So, is the chain’s role in the gay marriage debate going to wind down? Hardly.
A since-deleted tweet from evangelical Christian minister Rick Warren, saved by the LGBT news site Good As You, claimed that the chain’s president, Dan Cathy, personally called Warren to report that Chick-fil-A “has already set a world record” with seven more hours of business to go in the western part of the country. Warren used the hashtag #OutOfChicken.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sent out a statement late in the day about the Chick-fil-A kerfuffle, which began when Cathy spoke out publicly in support of the “biblical definition of the family unit.”
“Los Angeles has one of the most vibrant LGBT communities in this country,” Villaraigosa said. “I’m proud to support them as we call on Chick-fil-A’s leadership to reconsider their position and join the growing majority of Americans who support marriage equality. In Los Angeles and in America, love and liberty will always triumph.”
On Thursday, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, released a statement about Chick-fil-A’s donations to anti-gay groups, which according to Equality Matters totaled nearly $2 million in 2010.
“Chick-fil-A executives have every right to alienate as many customers as they want by giving millions to organizations that work every day to make life harder for LGBT people” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Protesters of Chick-fil-A’s anti-LGBT donations are not trying to silence the company, they are doing the opposite -- bringing attention to exactly what it is that this company stands for and showing how a growing majority of Americans support their LGBT friends and family members.”
Also invested in the debate? KFC’s Colonel Sanders -- or, at least, actor John Goodman’s impression of the character for humor website Funny or Die.
“The only church the colonel attends on Sunday is the church of chicken … not to be confused with Church’s Chicken,” Goodman says in a video (some adult language) poking fun at Chick-fil-A’s policy of not opening on Sundays.
Other videos on the subject also popped up. In one, Antoine Dodson, who became a viral Internet meme in 2010 with the “Bed Intruder Song,” says: “If I want to have a Chick-fil-A sandwich, I’m gonna have the Chick-fil-A sandwich.”
Dodson followed up with further explanation in another video.
“I’m not supporting the hatin’ man in charge,” he said. “I’m supporting them hard workers in the kitchen.”
[Updated at 10:50 a.m. Aug. 2: On Wednesday, one protestor recorded himself venting to a drive-through clerk at a Tucson Chick-fil-A. He was met with polite professionalism. He soon removed the video, which was re-uploaded by viewers.]
The uproar over Cathy’s comments have included expressions of support from Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, who helped organized Wednesday’s appreciation day. But critics have also piled on, with disapproval from former Eliot Spitzer, Nancy Pelosi and several mayors.
One of them, Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel, issued a statement last week referring to the chain’s plans to expand in the area. “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” he said. “They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty.”
On Sunday, Chicago Cardinal Francis George issued a rebuttal on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s blog.
“Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the ‘values’ that must be held by citizens of Chicago,” George wrote. “I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city?”