Supporters of a fast food chain boss who angered gay marriage advocates by backing “the biblical definition of the family” flocked to its stores across America on Wednesday.
They were taking part in the so-called Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day in support of the firm’s president, Dan Cathy, following a rallying cry from former Arkansas governor Mick Huckabee.
Blues crooner Pat Boone said protesters outside the chain’s outlets were wrong as Cathy was merely exercising his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
“I’m just amazed to see a pro-censorship rally going on here. I thought the people who were demonstrating were for tolerance. They say something about hate not being a family value, but what you’re hearing back there, is hate,” he told KABC News.
The protests by gay rights activists were sparked when Cathy gave an interview last month in which he called those in favour of same-sex marriage “arrogant”.
Chick-Fil-A styles itself as a business founded on Christian principles. It closes on Sunday to allow its employees to attend church.
Gay rights activists protesting outside one outlet in Los Angeles said Cathy’s views were out of step with the majority of Americans.
“I think it’s ridiculous. It’s intolerance of the worst kind,” said one female protester who declined to be named. “To have something like that permeating the airwaves on television and radio and on the Internet is just disgusting to me.”
Gay and lesbian groups plan to hold a counter demonstration at Chick-Fil-A restaurants on Friday. They want participants in National Same Sex Kiss Day to post photos on the Internet.