Several gay rights supporters have drawn attention to the controversial affiliations between Chick-Fil-A restaurants and anti-gay political organizations. The fast-food chain has been rapidly expanding around the U.S., and the opening of a location in Hollywood, CA was met by protesters.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the company referred inquiries to a statement that said, "We are not anti-anybody and have no agenda...." Donald Perry, the chain's vice president of corporate relations said (Hollywood Reporter):
"We support a number of organizations that enrich the communities where we serve daily. Some of these organizations are faith-based and marriage focused and others are not. These donations have not been given to support an anti-gay political agenda."
An organizer of the protest, Ken Howard, is quoted by Hollywood Patch as saying (Hollywood Patch):
''It’s about civil rights. ... It's not anti-Christian. It’s pro-civil rights and against hate groups.''
Hollywood actor Neil Patrick Harris (whose popularity increased greatly after he came out publicly as gay) surprised some of his nearly two million Twitter followers when he said last week (Twitter/ActuallyNPH):
''Things I dig: Chick-Fil-A. Ohmygodtheirfoodissodeliciousandtheyareopening
alocationinHollywoodinTHREEDAYS!!! Gah!! I'm obsessed.''
Fans immediately alerted him to the gay-related controversy, to which he replied:
''Didn't realize Chick-Fil-A was so opinionated, politically. I just thought their chicken tasted really good. #buzzkill''
The controversy between Chick-Fil-A and gay activists blew up in January when the blog GoodAsYou revealed a donation made by a Pennsylvania distributor to the anti-gay Pennsylvania Family Institute.
Research revealed a history of donations from the company to religious political organizations that act out against the LGBT-community -- American Family Association, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family. The company's COO, Dan Cathy, responded in a dissatisfactory way via Facebook, a press release and a video. Numerous social conservatives defended the God-and-chicken focused corporation for battling against gay marriage despite Cathy's insistance that the company was not.
Chick-Fil-A continues to be a billion-dollar success, and Hollywood Patch reported that cars lined up around the restaurant during the protest. When opening new locations, the restaurant chain often creates buzz and excitement by giving away free food. The Hollywood opening included a few minor celebrities like Yvette Nicole Brown, and the company Tweeted that its Hollywood location was "having a great opening day."