Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: Thousands of gay-marriage foes turned out Wednesday to show their support for Chick-fil-A. On Friday, LGBT advocates and their allies will have their turn to be seen and heard on what has turned into the summer's main battle in the culture war.
GLAAD has organized what it has dubbed "National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A," a name that pretty much sums up what the organization has in mind to protest the chicken chain's anti-gay rights views.
"As a private company, Chick-fil-A has every right to alienate as many customers as they want," GLAAD President Herndon Graddick wrote on the organization's blog explaining the rationale behind the counter-protest. "But consumers and communities have every right to speak up when a company’s President accuses them of 'inviting God’s judgment' by treating their LGBT friends, neighbors and family members with respect."
GLAAD has a Tumblr set up to host same-sex photobombs from the day. Currently, a little more than 13,000 have accepted the organization's Facebook national invitation to participate, significantly less than the over 600,000 who responded to Mike Huckabee's invitation to appreciate the chain. However, there are other, locally organized events advertised on the GLAAD site.
Meanwhile, gay rights advocates are also making their own plans to use their purchasing power to make a political statement. Equally Wed magazine is asking those in favor of gay marriage to show up at their local Starbucks chain on Tuesday, August 7, for an "Appreciation Day" for the gay marriage-backing coffee chain.
Thursday, Aug. 2: Seems like quite a few chicken-loving, same-sex marriage foes turned out for Wednesday's Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.
Based on reports from around the country, many Chick-fil-As had lines out the door come lunchtime. Attendees emphasized a mix of support for the company's stance against equal marriage rights and for what's being billed as an underlying free speech issue in the initial backlash against the fast food chain's officially outed politics. Mayors in a handful of cities, including Boston and Chicago, responded to president and COO Dan Cathy's recent remarks on his "Biblical" view of marriage by insinuating that the chain was not welcome within city limits.*
According to CNN, the company won't say exactly how much the demonstrations boosted the company's bottom-line, but has confirmed that Wednesday was a "record-setting day." [Elsewhere in Slate, David Weigel reports on the scene at a Chick-fil-A in Pennsylvania.]
Gay rights supporters, meanwhile, are still gearing up for what they're calling "National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A" on Friday, a name that pretty much explains it all. "Let's show Chick-fil-A thanks for their support of Love, Equality, and the Real Definition of Marriage! Invite your friends!" organizers said on its Facebook page.
Wednesday, Aug. 1: It's looking like Chick-Fil-A, already in the middle of the ongoing debate on gay marriage, will serve as ground zero for the increasingly heated culture war this week.
The fast-food chain has long attracted chicken lovers across the political spectrum despite its open alignment with conservative evangelical Christian ideas and organizations that steadfastly oppose same-sex marriages. But that appears to be changing in the wake of chain president Dan Cathy's recent decision to publicly affirm the company's "Biblical" view on marriage to the Baptist Press.
Cathy's comments gained enough media traction to make the company's history of supporting anti-gay efforts compete with the apparent tastiness of its product, sparking calls for a boycott on the left—and some constitutionally questionable efforts by city mayors to ban the chain—and an outpouring of support from the write-in response.
The competing feelings will be on public display Wednesday, when thousands of Americans are expected to show up at Chick-fil-A chains across the country to take part in the Mike Huckabee-created "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day." At the same time, GLAAD has started its own campaign to make Friday "National Same-Sex Kiss Day," the Guardian explains, with participants encouraged to take a photo of themselves kissing in, you guessed it, a Chick-Fil-A restaurant.*
It's unclear how many LGBT advocates and their like-minded allies will lock lips in protest of the chicken chain. But given Huckabee and co.'s reach via cable TV and radio, many observers are expecting a relatively strong turnout from those on the right who oppose gay marriage.
More than 600,000 responded positively to Huckabee's Facebook invitation, which read,
"Let's affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1. Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we're considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant. This effort is not being launched by the Chick Fil-A company and no one from the company or family is involved in proposing or promoting it."
Supporters of Huckabee's initiative include a who's who of the religious right, including Rick Santorum, Rev. Billy Graham, Lou Engle of The Call, and Mike Bickle.
*Correction: Gay rights organizers hope to stage their same-sex kissing protest on Friday, not Wednesday as originally reported. Also, Dan Cathy is the chain's president and COO, not CEO.