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Locals Join in Wednesday's Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day

What's your take on the comments by Chick-fil-A's CEO, and reactions by local officials, which has generated a lot of heated reaction in recent days?

A Wenham man was one of thousands who turned out at fast food chain Chick-fil-A on Wednesday for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

The company's president Dan Cathy has been both vilified and idolized in recent days because of the company's stance on gay marriage. And both dueling sides in that argument linined up at across the nation today to either support the company or protest, including at the franchise at the in Peabody.

In Burlington, the line stretched around the food court. And that line included Lancelot Ball of Wenham, who held a sign in support of Chick-Fil-A for a Boston Herald photographer on Wednesday.

In recent interviews with news outlets, Cathy acknowledged his company does not agree with nor support gay marriage. Until then, Cathy had not explicitly stated his views on the subject, although Chick-fil-A has been under fire by gay rights advocates and supporters for the past few years due to documented financial support the company has given to organizations that have been labeled as "anti-gay."

Cathy, however, said the organizations were ones that supported a traditional, biblical and heterosexual view of marriage, which was in line with the family company's Christian values. He said Chick-fil-A does not discriminate based on sexual orientation and the company released a statement, saying it won't get politically involved in the issue.

Cathy's remarks that the United States was "inviting God's judgment" on it by having the "audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about," likewise fanned the ire of those same critics, who expressed their outrage.

Mayors in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco have even threatened to ban the company from opening new locations in their cities, and plans for campus franchises have been derailed at some college campuses after protests from student groups.

And at the same time, just as many have rallied to the defense of Cathy and Chick-fil-A, such as former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who praised Cathy for taking a stand and said the company shouldn’t be publicly vilified for contributing to causes it supports. In fact, Huckabee called for Aug. 1 to be Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

"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," Huckabee said.

The Bangor Daily News reports that the Christian Civic League of Maine even sent a bus down to the Northshore Mall on Wednesday. There are no Chick-fil-A franchises in Maine.

Likewise, demonstrations were organized at Chick-fil-A franchises around the country to protest and boycott the company. A silent protest was held at the Peabody location between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

"We as a region have a say in what kind of 'values' we expect from businesses that chose to receive money from our pockets. If you don't live here, find your nearest Chick-Fil-A and organize your own sit in," writes Lauren Doucette on a Facebook event page for the Peabody demonstration. She urged anyone interested in coming to protest peacefully, wear appropriate attire and not harass employees or customers or otherwise cause a scene in the mall.

"Show them that we are just like everyone else, don't play into Chick-Fil-A's hands that we're deviants and deserve less than any other human being," Doucette said.

Last Thursday, a police officer kept watch in the Food Court due to “hostile reaction” to news of the controversy, according to police, although no further incidents were reported.

Same-sex couples are also now being encouraged to pucker up in front of their local Chick-fil-A on Friday as part of a nationwide movement called "National Same-Sex Kiss Day." Several locals tell the Boston Herald they plan to do just that in Peabody on Friday.

So what do you think about this hot-button issue?

Are Chick-fil-A and Dan Cathy really anti-gay and deserving of public scorn and boycotting? Or is this really no different than any other private business donating money to a cause it supports?

Weigh in via the comments section and we ask that you be respectful of each other's opinions.

Jim Smith August 02, 2012 at 05:37 AM
Dan Cathy is celebrated as being the lone hero with the gutts to stand up and have his opinion and his definition of Marriage. While Hetero-Phobic activists cry foul ? "What same-sex 'marriage' has done to Massachusetts". Go to: MassResistance.com We have released our new, expanded version of "What same sex 'marriage' has done to Massachusetts." This booklet exposes the shocking and outrageous changes that have taken place throughout society in Massachusetts since the infamous Goodridge court ruling. Most people don't know what really happens when "gay marriage" is imposed on the people of a state. And the homosexual lobby wants to keep it that way. As elections are about to take place on "gay marriage" in four states this fall, and as legislators in others are poised to impose it on their citizens, people are woefully in the dark on this issue. What citizens across the country don't know can hurt them! MassResistance reveals what "gay marriage" has brought to Massachusetts over the last eight years. This includes: Draconian government tribunals punishing those who disagree. Most people across America don't know that in 2007 a federal judge ruled that because of "gay marriage" in Massachusetts, schools have an obligation to present homosexuality as normal -- even in elementary school -- and parents have no right to opt out or even be informed of what their kids are being taught.
Paul E. Keith August 02, 2012 at 10:03 AM
As a gay man I would welcome Chik-fil-A to open stores anywhere in Massachusetts. As a for-profit company they would be obliged to abide by the anti-discrimination laws in the State with respect to hiring and benefits administration. I would then encourage the LGBT community to set aside protests and boycotts that would only make this company look like a "victim" and, instead, start a campaign to encourage folks in the community to apply for jobs. Same-sex couples would have to receive the same benefits and job opportunities as all other employees, giving Mr. Cathy the chance to actively support us economically. In addition, I would drop the boycott talk and make Chik-fil-A THE luncheon and dinner place of choice for LGBT folks, filling the stores with gay families and couples. And then, of course, if the store failed to abide by the laws we could all get together at the MCAD to enforce them. Yes, Mr. Cathy, thank you for the opportunity to show you that we are no different than any other citizens...
john August 02, 2012 at 10:24 AM
They already employ and serve gays. Get over yourself.
Paul E. Keith August 02, 2012 at 11:53 AM
You miss my point, John. I'm trying to encourage the "boycott and protest" crowd to drop that approach - it serves no purpose but to make the chain look like a "victim" of reverse discrimination. Yes, they already serve and employ gay folks wherever it isn't legal to discriminate in employment, I'm sure. I'd prefer to see the LGBT community making the point that we are really no different, in our families and daily lives, by just being ourselves in what many of us perceive as a "hostile environment". As to "getting over myself" I did that many, many years ago - now if only the anti-gay contingent would do the same we'd all get along much better, don't you think?
john August 02, 2012 at 12:26 PM
I understood your point. I don't see Mr. Cathy as being anti-gay. People that believe in traditional marriage are not all anti-gay. I can respect both arguments and at the end of the day this is a non-issue for me. It is the media and politicians that are making this such a divisive issue.
Paul E. Keith August 02, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Thank you, John, for the thoughtful response. I wholly agree that some politicos and media have generated a frenzy over this which I, for one, find utterly non-productive with respect to having a civil discourse on the issue of same-gender marriage. It just creates further polarization and that does no good for anyone. I'm retired now having spent my life as a gay man in totally "non-gay" environments: 10 years Honorable military service, to include a Vietnam tour - 4 years earning a degree in Bible from Gordon College in Wenham - and nearly 30 years as a public and private transportation executive, a very non-traditional area for gays I assure you - and what I learned and wish I could pass on to others in the LGBT community is this: be self-confident, live your lives authentically, be true to yourself and others, and don't get so inflamed when people like Mr. Cathy disagree with you as it means very little, really, in the greater scheme of things. As to "marriage" I wish the gov't would get out of that business altogether and just recognize the civil union contracts that are all the official marriage laws are. Then, if any couple gets a duly authorized civil union license and wishes to "marry" in a Church, Synagogue, Mosque, or Ashram (or no church at all), that's fine but not the government's business. Problem solved, methinks.
john August 02, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Thank you for your service and I think you make some great points. I agree the government should not be involved and that civil unions should grant everyone the same rights. At the same time those religous institutions should be allowed to marry or not marry people based on their beliefs. So I think getting "married" would certainly be difficult in a Catholic church or a Mosque.
Paul E. Keith August 02, 2012 at 02:33 PM
No argument from me on anything you've said. Religious institutions may or may not choose to sanctify marriages between same gender people as fits their beliefs. Government has nothing to say on that, nor should it. By the same token, religious institutions should not be able to govern civil unions whether they agree or not. The one thing we don't need - and I speak as a believer - is a Christian form of Sharia Law ruling our civil laws. (Gays within any given religious belief structure may, of course, lobby from within for "marriage equality" but that's an internal affair.) Again, thanks for your civil discourse on the matter; that's rare on today's internet comment boards!
Sean Murphy August 02, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Glad to see folks stand up for freedom of speech, and good food. Somehow the arrogant, condescending and hypocritical Dems don't. I think they forgot we have a Constitution. It is not about gay marriage, it is about the ability to run your own business, which they did build.
Paul E. Keith August 02, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Trying to remain civil... Mr. Cathy certainly has a right to express his views, regardless of what anyone else may think of them, as do the protesters speaking against those views. I just don't think it at all helpful either way. Your statement could just as easily be stated this way: "Somehow the arrogant, condescending and hypocritical 'Publicans don't. It's not about gay marriage, it is about equal protection under the law." As to building a business, you need to read the entire quote from the President, not just the edited segment ballyhooed by the Romney campaign. Heck, Romney said something very similar to the athletes in the Winter Olympics, i.e., they didn't get there on their own. They were coached and guided and given opportunities by others. That doesn't denigrate the real fact that they each worked hard to get where they were - just like any successful business person - but they didn't do it in a vacuum either. As far as "good food" goes, well I'll pass on that as I haven't eaten at any fast food joints in over 30 years. Personally I believe these places with their high calories and high fat & sodium content have done more to create the obesity epidemic we see in this country, the fattest nation on Earth by all accounts. But that has nothing to do with the topic - just picking up on yours - so I'm done.
Bill August 03, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Loved this show of support, which was actually a show of support for the constitutional right to freedom of religion and speech. I support same sex marriage for the same reason I support the right of people to practice and express their religion - it is the freedom we should have an Americans. The thought of two thugish Mayors penalizing a private business for the owner's personal belief is an outrage and frankly, stupid. They both did it to pander to the PC crowd and the gay voting block. Cheap stunt that will come back to haunt them. You may not agree with Mr. Cathy (I don't) but you have to respect his beliefs and his right to express them. There is no evidence that the company has ever discriminated against anyone.
Paul E. Keith August 03, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Thank you, Bill. Thoughtful and appropriate, and that's coming from a member of the "gay voting bloc" no less! I've never met the Mayor of Chicago, but in a past business life I had a number of meetings with Mayor Mumbles in Boston and although I wish he had just stayed out of it - not his place - I got to know him well enough that it didn't surprise me at all that he did. Gays, btw, aren't so much a "voting bloc" as a very diverse group of people, just like everyone else. Yes, we tend to lean away from the politicians who are just plain mean - like Bachmann, et. al. - but overall we are across the board. Thanks again for your comments. I'm impressed overall with the sane tone expressed by most who post on this Board, unlike so many that just devolve into ugly flame wars.

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