The opening of a Chick-fil-A franchise in Laguna Hills attracted more than new customers early Thursday morning as protesters picketed outside over the restaurant chain chief executive's opposition to gay marriage.
About 35 protesters arrived at the new restaurant on El Toro Road near the 5 Freeway to sound off against statements made by CEO Dan Cathy.
In a recent interview with Baptist Press, Cathy said that although he doesn't consider Chik-fil-A a "Christian business," he does operate on "biblical principles."
"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that," Cathy said.
One protester touted his own Christian values in support of gay rights.
"We’ll get there in time. We pray. Yes, we do pray," said Jonathan Jensen, 25, of Irvine.
But not everyone agreed with the demonstration. David Kincer drove from Lake Elsinore to protest against the protest.
"They bash traditional family with their lies," said 69-year-old Kincer.
Laura Cantor, an organizer of the event and director of youth service at the Center in Orange County, a LGBT community center, said that if the group persuaded one person to avoid Chik-fil-A the event would be a success.
“I’m also married to my first wife," said Cantor. "I have a family too. That’s why we're here. We want to be treated with the same dignity and respect.”
Later in the day, protesters managed to turn one person away -- but only after they offered to pay the potential patron $20.
“We certainly respect everyone’s right to express opinions, and we appreciate it’s been done in a respectful manner, so we can celebrate our opening and welcome our guests,” said Cindy Chapman, a Chick-fil-A spokeswoman.