Gay rights activists hold ‘kiss day’ at Chick-fil-A restaurants

Posted at 10:59 PM, Aug 03, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-03 22:59:42-04
(CNN) — Gay rights activists staged a “kiss day” at Chick-fil-A outlets nationwide Friday amid a controversy over the company president’s stance against same-sex marriages.

Organizers used social media to urge same-sex couples to participate in the event and post pictures and videos online.

“I like to liken it to a married couple sharing a light kiss over a romantic meal, it’s the same thing. We’re here, and our love is just as good,” organizer Carly McGehee said.

Two dozen protesters turned out in the afternoon at a Chick-fil-A location in suburban Atlanta. At least one couple shared a kiss for the assembled media.

Marci Alt said she would like Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy to meet her wife and their two children.

“We share some of the same kind of values,” Alt said. “I think it would open his eyes to understand that just because we are a lesbian couple, we’re really not any different than him and Mrs. Cathy.”

In Los Angeles, same-sex marriage supporters Luke Montgomery and Eduardo Cisneros kissed outside a Chick-fil-A restaurant.

Montgomery said Jesus Christ never said anything about gay people. Referring to Cathy, the activist said, “He needs to open the Bible before he opens his mouth.”

Meanwhile, police in Torrance, California, were trying to find out who vandalized a Chick-fil-A restaurant with a picture of a cow and the words “Tastes Like Hate,” CNN affiliate KTLA reported. Police Lt. Martin Vukotic said there were no immediate leads.

Friday’s protests followed a Wednesday event dubbed Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, in which Americans lined up at eateries nationwide to support the company.

Chick-fil-A said it set a sales record Wednesday but declined to release the numbers.

About 14,400 people had expressed their support on a Facebook page dedicated to Friday’s protest, a tally dwarfed by those who went to Facebook to back Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

McGehee said she hopes someone will protest at each of the more than 1,600 Chick-fil-A locations. Most demonstrators will remain outside, although some have said they plan to take the protest inside, she said.

Some plan to buy food with cash marked “gay money,” she said.

Chick-fil-A’s Steve Robinson, executive vice president of marketing, issued a statement saying the company appreciates all of its customers and is “glad to serve them at any time.”

The controversy started after an interview with Cathy appeared in The Baptist Press on July 16. He weighed in with his views on family.

“We are very much supportive of the family, the biblical definition of the family unit,” he said. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

The statement caused an uproar, with activists saying Cathy voiced opposition to gay marriages.

Some of the protesters in Los Angeles supported Cathy’s stance, while Montgomery said same-sex marriage supporters should not be intimidated.

“We have separation of church and state,” Montgomery said. “It’s great if they want to have their religion, but it should not interfere with our civil rights.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee created a Facebook page urging people to buy food at the chain during the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

Throngs of people heeded his call, snaking around various Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide Wednesday.

Proponents of same-sex marriage organized a simple counterprotest, asking people to donate the approximate cost of a Chick-fil-A meal, about $6.50, to gay and lesbian rights groups, according to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, known as GLAAD.

Gay rights groups also are incensed about the chain’s financial support for what they say are anti-gay groups, largely through the WinShape Foundation, a group started by Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy. It’s financed almost entirely by Chick-fil-A profits.

WinShape-backed groups deny that accusation, while WinShape stresses that its activities are almost entirely aimed at youth and families, as opposed to conservative advocacy.