Tempest in a Deep-Fat Fryer

2012 Year in Review: Chick-Fil-A President's anti-gay marriage mission

One of the saltier controversies of 2012 was the fury surrounding fast-food restaurant Chick-fil-A, its financial ties to anti-gay causes and its outspoken president’s opinion on same-sex marriage.

In a July interview with the Baptist Press, Chick-fil-A’s president, Dan Cathy, claimed to be ”guilty as charged” when it comes to opposing same-sex marriage and supporting ”the traditional family – the biblical definition of the family unit.” In a radio interview, Cathy also said that allowing same-sex marriage in the United States was challenging God’s principles and inviting ”God’s judgment.”

In the wake of Cathy’s comments, some LGBT activists, already critical of Chick-fil-A’s support of anti-gay groups like the American Family Association (AFA) and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), called for a boycott of the company.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino (D) and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) also entered the fray, making comments perceived as trying to hinder Chick-fil-A expansion efforts in their cities. Because those comments were perceived by some as the government bullying a private business, conservative ministers and political leaders, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), called for a ”Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” on Aug. 1. On that day, millions of people across the country flocked to Chick-fil-A stores to support the business – whether that meant opposing same-sex marriage or supporting Cathy’s right to free speech.

Stores were also vandalized – in Des Peres, Mo., Torrance, Calif., and Frederick, Md. – in the fracas.

And some marriage-equality supporters protested outside Chick-fil-A stores and held an Aug. 3 ”kiss-in” to counter ”Appreciation Day.” Others tried to organize an Aug. 7 ”National Marriage Equality Day” by asking LGBT people and their allies to patronize businesses supportive of marriage equality, like Starbucks and Nike, but neither counter-action was as successful as the pro-Chick-fil-A campaign.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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