Who would have guessed that a pretty unremarkable fried chicken sandwich would become a proxy in the battle over gay marriage?
Chicken sandwich lovers who oppose gay marriage have turned out in force to support Chick-fil-A, the restaurant chain whose chief executive has made headlines for his antipathy toward same-sex marriage. Photographs show long lines at outlets around the country.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came up with the idea for today’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, moved by the calls of gay marriage supporters for a boycott after the company’s president, Dan Cathy, told a Christian publication recently that his company supports “the biblical definition of the family unit.”
As you might expect for an uproar that has its roots in a food business, the controversy has been many-pronged.
The Jim Henson Co. pulled out of a deal with the fast-food chain to create toys for its children’s meals. Liberal politicians declared that Chick-Fil-A was not welcome on their turf. The Human Rights Campaign said that “Chick-fil-A has an extensive history of discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, including funneling millions to organizations that actively work to deny rights to the LGBT community.” It urged supporters to tweet about the company’s “discriminatory history,” calling it “Chick-Filhate.”
The Huffington Post interviewed anonymous gay Chick-fil-A employees, who said they were upset that customers, believing they were supporting the chain, felt free to disparage homosexuality and gay marriage to them.
In Laguna Hills this morning, The Times’ Tiffany Hsu reported, about 70 young protesters gathered in front of a newly opened Chick-fil-A store and asked customers to go elsewhere for their meals.
Chick-fil-A Appreciation day is part of a boycott backlash that has taken hold among conservatives who oppose gay marriage. Some supporters also believe that a boycott amounts to an infringement on Cathy’s free-speech rights.
As the battle played out at the food counter Wednesday, it has also had a front in the virtual world, with both sides making their feelings known on Twitter.
One popular tweet, by @yoyoha, said: “Look forward to Chick-fil-A introducing their Only Some People are Allowed to Be Happy Meal.”
A tweet by @pastorLeBlanc said: “As I looked at my Chick-fil-A sandwich today, I thought, ‘This is the way God intended it!’ Same thing I think when I look at my marriage.”
Sarah Palin entered the fray when she tweeted a photo of herself with her husband at a Chick-fil-A near Houston, where she gave a speech Friday in support of tea party favorite Ted Cruz, who beat his establishment Republican rival, Lt Gov. David Dewhurst, in Texas’U.S. Senate primary runoff Tuesday.
In an interview Tuesday night on Fox News, Palin defended Chick-fil-A and accused President Obama of coming out in favor of gay marriage for political reasons.
“The owner of the Chick-fil-A business had merely voiced his personal opinion about supporting traditional definition of marriage: one boy, one girl, falling in love, getting married,” Palin said. “And having voiced support for kind of that cornerstone of all civilization and all religions since the beginning of time, he [is] then basically getting crucified,” she said.
“I’m speaking up for him and his 1st Amendment rights and anybody else who would wish to express their not anti-gay people sentiment, but their support of traditional marriage, which President Obama and Joe Biden, they both supported the exact same thing until just a few months ago, when Obama had to flip-flop to shore up the homosexual voter base.”
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, has urged supporters of gay marriage to participate Friday in “Same-Sex Kiss Day” at Chick-fil-As, then post pictures on social media.