The eyes of America’s pro- and anti-gay marriage lobbies will be firmly focussed on a chain of fast food restaurants on Friday at the end of a week of hot debate over family values and freedom of expression.
Gay rights groups have called for their supporters to gather outside Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide and take part in a ‘Same Sex Kiss In’. This comes two days after prominent conservatives and Christians led a ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day‘ that saw huge queues of people waiting patiently to spend their money in the chain.
It all started when the president of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, told Baptist media last month that his company supports the “biblical definition of the family unit.” He also called supporters of same-sex marriage “arrogant.”
The Georgia-based company was created by Cathy’s father and claims to adhere to Christian values; it is closed on Sundays to allow its staff and customers to attend church.
When gay rights groups quickly denounced Cathy’s comments, right-wing commentators countered with the argument that Cathy was simply exercising his right to free speech and accused the LGBT community of wanting to undermine that constitutional right.
Leading right-wing personalities such as the conservative Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee urged people to turn out en masse at the chain’s restaurants to show their support for Cathy’s ‘Christian’ view of the family unit. Hundreds of thousands of people heeded Huckabee’s call and used the occasion as a rallying cry for ‘traditional’ Christian American values. One pastor in Tennessee told media:
“We’re asking freedom-loving, chicken-eating Christians to support Mr. Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A. We going to go in eat some good gospel bird.”
Gay and lesbian rights groups, backed by many other liberal-minded Americans, responded by turning to social networks to promote the ‘Same Sex Kiss In’ outside Chick-fil-A restaurants.
Meanwhile Chick-fil-A, whose $4 billion annual turnover will not have been harmed by the publicity, has backed out of the row:, saying it will “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
Our mission is to create raving fans; we plan to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the political arena. cot.ag/NZFBFI— Chick-fil-A, Inc. (@ChickfilA) Juillet 19, 2012