A major U.S. restaurant chain has found itself at the center of the
national debate over same-sex marriage.
Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-fil-A, recently told a religious news
journal the company was "guilty as charged" of allegations it opposed
same-sex marriage. Cathy said the family-owned business supported "the
biblical definition of the family unit."
Cathy's remarks have sparked outrage among gay rights advocacy groups
and protests against the Chick-fil-A chain based in Atlanta, Georgia.
One group has publicized the company's donation of millions of dollars
to groups that have campaigned against legalizing same-sex marriage.
Many critics have called for a boycott of the chain, while protests have
sprung up at a handful of Chick-fil-A restaurants across the U.S. Some
same-sex couples are planning to stage a national "kiss-in" at Chick-fil-A
restaurants on August 3.
company's stance has also angered politicians in Chicago and Boston. A
Chicago city council member is opposing the opening of a Chick-fil-A
store in his district, while Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote Cathy a
letter urging him to abandon plans to open a franchise on the city's
historic Freedom Trail. And the owner of the popular Muppet characters
has ended its promotional partnership with the chain.
But Chick-fil-A is receiving support from religious conservatives for
its anti-gay marriage beliefs. Former Arkansas Governor and Republican
presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has declared Wednesday, August 1
"Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," a move supported by former U.S. Senator
Rick Santorum, himself a former Republican presidential candidate, and
legendary evangelical preacher Billy Graham.
Chick-fil-A, founded in 1967 by Cathy's father, S. Truett Cathy, posted
more than $4.1 billion in sales last year. None of the company's 1,600
restaurants are open on Sundays, when many Christians in the U.S. attend
worship services, in keeping with the Cathy family's beliefs.