The still-simmering controversy sparked by the Chick-fil-A president's public comments against same-sex marriage is set to reignite this week, as more than 500,000 people say they will join former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" on Wednesday by "simply showing up and eating" at one of the company's 1,600 restaurants, while protesters backed by gay and lesbian groups plan to participate in a same-sex "kiss-in" on Friday at the same stores.
Chick-fil-A, founded in 1946, has a long history of unapologetic social conservatism. But the most recent clash between the $4 billion fast-food chain and progressive groups began in June, when Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy said that those who support gay marriage are "inviting God's judgment on our nation."
"We shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'" Cathy said in a radio interview. "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." Then, in an interview published by the Baptist Press, Cathy doubled down on his stance against same-sex unions.
"Guilty as charged," Cathy said. "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."
[Related: Chick-fil-A president slams gay marriage]
The backlash from supporters of same-sex marriage quickly followed. "Hate to think what they do to the gay chickens!" actor Ed Helms tweeted on July 18. "Lost a loyal fan."
On July 20, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino fired off a letter to Cathy, urging him to abandon plans to expand the Atlanta-based chain to his city.
"Here in Boston, to borrow your own words, we are 'guilty as charged,'" Menino wrote. "We are indeed full of pride for our support of same sex marriage and our work to expand freedom to all people."Read More »from Chick-fil-A braces for protests, same-sex ‘kiss-in’