A Frederick, Md., Chick-fil-A store was vandalized Saturday night, Aug. 11, when stickers promoting marriage equality, a gay pride flag and several homemade signs were adhered to the fast-food outlet’s windows, according to The Frederick News-Post.
Police from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the store, at 5501 Urbana Pike, early Sunday morning to find the display after management reported destruction of property.
According to the News-Post, police collected physical evidence and video surveillance of a suspect at the scene. The store has since hired a cleaning service to remove the stickers.
Online reaction to the crime has ranged from some saying the gay-rights movement is intolerant of opposing points of view, to others speculating that opponents of marriage equality may have vandalized the store in order to turn public opinion in their favor in the run-up to the November referendum that will have Maryland voters deciding whether or not to uphold a marriage-equality law signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in March.
The Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign, which is trying to convince voters to support the law at the ballot box, issued a statement condemning the vandalism and telling supporters to focus their efforts on other matters.
”We abhor any vandalism or disrespect in this campaign,” Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, said in a statement. ”We remain focused on supporting all Maryland families and sending the message that loving, committed gay and lesbian couples should be treated fairly under the law. We encourage our supporters to have conversations with folks they know who may be undecided on the issue. That’s how we win.”
At least two other stores – in Des Peres, Mo., and Torrance, Calif. – have also been vandalized after Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press he was ”guilty as charged” of opposing same-sex marriage and supporting ”the traditional family,” setting off a cultural tug-of-war between marriage-equality supporters and opponents.
Some LGBT activists, already critical of Chick-fil-A’s support of anti-gay groups such as the American Family Association and the National Organization for Marriage, called for a boycott of the company. Later, several Democratic politicians, including Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, made comments that some perceived as trying to use their power to hinder Chick-fil-A efforts in their cities.
While such comments did not translate into any apparent actions against the company, some perceived the politicians’ comments as bullying a private business, prompting conservative ministers and political leaders like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) to call for a ”Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” Aug. 1. That day, millions of people flocked to Chick-fil-A stores across the nation, either to support the idea of traditional marriage, or, what they viewed as Cathy’s right to free speech.
Meanwhile, a variety of marriage-equality supporters protested outside stores and held an Aug. 3 ”kiss-in” to counter the ”Appreciation Day.” An Aug. 7 ”National Marriage Equality Day” called on LGBT people and their allies to patronize businesses supportive of marriage equality, such as Starbucks and Nike.