Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press last month that the Atlanta-based company was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” Homosexual rights groups and others immediately ridiculed the company position.
In response to the criticism, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, suggested Wednesday be “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” and that Cathy supporters patronize the restaurant.
A spokeswoman for the Rev. Billy Graham said the 93-year-old evangelist ate a Chick-fil-A lunch, including a chicken sandwich and waffle fries, at his North Carolina home.
Cleveland franchise manager Mark Hodson was still cooking at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and asked if a phone interview with the Cleveland Daily Banner could be scheduled for the evening.
He sent an apologetic text message at 1:20 this morning apologizing for missing the phone interview at 8 p.m.
“I am so sorry, but we were so-o-o busy,” he wrote.
Opponents of Cathy’s stance have planned “Kiss Mor Chiks” for Friday, asking people of the same sex to show up at Chick-fil-A locations and kiss each other.
According to The Associated Press, Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray said he would not support an expanded presence for Chick-fil-A in the district because the president of the fast-food chain is opposed to gay marriage.
Gray referred to the company’s product as “hate chicken” in a tweet on Friday. The Democratic mayor referenced his “long-standing strong support for LGBT rights and marriage equality” and followed similar statements by mayors in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco that the company was not welcome.
But the company seemed more than welcome in Cleveland. Mike Hicks, a security guard at First Tennessee Bank, watched the parking lot to ensure only bank customers used the bank’s parking lot adjacent to the restaurant. He said he has never seen anything like the continuous line of cars and people coming and going from the fast-food restaurant. When drivers pulled into one of the bank’s parking spaces, he politely told them they could not park there unless they had business at First Tennessee.
“Everyone was well-behaved,” he said.
Daniel Denton drove from Athens with his wife and four children to show support for traditional marriage.
“I’m here with my family to show my support for the statements they made,” Denton said.
Suzanne Jackson and her daughter, Jordan, who are regular customers, finished their sandwiches in less than an hour and walked out the door shortly after 4 p.m.
“We are here to support what Mr. Cathy said because we believe the same thing,” Jackson said. “Not to discriminate against anyone, but that’s just the way we believe.”
Gina Davis was lighthearted as she sat by behind the steering wheel of the SUV she drove through the maze of cars in the BI-LO parking lot. Ninety minutes later, the “order here” sign was in view about five car lengths ahead. In the back seat, her young son and daughter sat quietly as they watched a “Veggie Tales” CD.
“Absolutely,” she said. “I’m here to support them, their business and their stance. That is exactly what our stance is — for marriage between a man and a woman — so we want to support the businesses that support that.”
When asked if it bothered her if Chick-fil-A was making money, she said, “I hope they make a lot of money. I think any business that takes a stance for things I believe — I want to support that business and I’m willing to set in line for an hour-and-a-half in a drive-through.”
The company said in a Tuesday press release that Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. Truett Cathy began applying biblically based principles to managing his business on the day he started the company.
“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent owner/operators,” Tuesday’s release stated. “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.
“Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”