Chicago Chick-fil-A protesters plan "kiss-in"
This July 19, 2012, photo shows a Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant in Atlanta. / AP
(CBS News) Gay rights group Equality Illinois is asking gay and lesbian couples to go to their local Chick-fil-A restaurant next Friday for a "kiss-in" campaign, which the group is promoting along with other gay rights organizations nationwide, reports CBS affiliate WBBM in Chicago.
The "kiss-in" is one of several public protests against Chick-fil-A that have come about since CEO Dan Cathy said in an interview with the Baptist Press he was "guilty as charged" when asked about his "support of the traditional family."
"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," he said in the interview. "We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."
Furthering his views on the radio program "The Ken Coleman Show" in June, Cathy said " I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say 'we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,' and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about."
The company has tried to backtrack from Cathy's comments, saying it strives to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect - regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender," according to a Boston Herald report. But that apparently has done little to quell the uproar, with Equality Illinois' planned "kiss-in" being only one of several public protests against Cathy's comments.
On the other hand, the company has enjoyed vocal support in the conservative community.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in a statement on his Facebook page, said he has been "incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick Fil-A company because the CEO, Dan Cathy, made comments recently in which he affirmed his view that the Biblical view of marriage should be upheld."
Huckabee has recently been joined by former presidential candidate Rick Santorum in calling for a "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" on August 1, for which they've asked their supporters to "just simply have a meal" at and stand behind their local Chick-fil-A.
Whether not any of the controversy over Cathy's comments will affect the restaurant's bottom line is anyone's guess, but some politicians are trying to see that it does.
Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno has announced his intentions to block Chick-fil-A's plans for a restaurant in his ward. Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed that position, saying that Cathy's views "disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents," thus building in Chicago "would be a bad investment, since it would be empty."
Additionally, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino sent Cathy a letter asking him to back out of plans to locate a restaurant in Beantown.
The campaign by Equality Illinois, dubbed "Flick-the-Hate," urges people to sign a petition geared toward universities and malls that host Chick-fil-A restaurants.
"As we challenge the company's anti-LGBT policies, we must also ask these universities and mall owners why they want to do business with a company that holds up hate as a family value," Equality Illinois says.
Equality Illinois is also urging Chicagoans who support gay rights to participate in an "Eat for Love Day" on Wednesday, Aug. 1. The organization is urging people to eat at a local restaurant that supports LGBT rights and "is unafraid to show its support for equality for everyone."
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