What's your stance?
DALLAS — Chick-fil-A supporters waited in long lines and filled its restaurants across Texas (where the fast food chain has more outlets than any other state) to support the company’s stance against same-sex marriage.
“We wanted to be in a place where other people think like we do," said Heidi Vick said as she walked out of a restaurant on Fort Worth's West 7th Street.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared Wednesday “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” It comes just days before gay activists plan to stage a “kiss-in” at the chain’s restaurants.
“When people see the amount of people that support us, I think it’s going to be much more effective than refusing to spend money at a certain place,” said Carly McGehee, who organized “Kiss Mor Chiks.” She’s asking people of the same sex to show up at Chick-fil-A locations on Friday and kiss each other outside the restaurant.
McGehee, 24, is from Flower Mound, and remembers eating at the popular restaurant nearly every day. Yet she turned against the restaurant after the company began supporting groups that oppose gay marriage.
“I couldn’t sit idly by and let my rights be infringed upon any longer,” said McGehee, who currently lives in New York and works as a fundraiser for gay rights groups.
The controversy intensified last month when Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press that the Atlanta-based company was "guilty as charged" for backing "the Biblical definition of a family."
Gay rights groups and others answered with calls for boycotts, which the mayors of Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston have publicly supported.
"This is not about Mr. Cathy's freedom of speech," said David Reed with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "This is about how Chick-fil-A directs its money — specifically to oppose gay and lesbian relationships.”
The chain’s supporters showed up in force on Wednesday. Crowds overwhelmed the company’s dining rooms coast-to-coast, and lines stretched around many restaurants.
“We want to say: 'Chick-fil-A, here's our money,’" said Evan Lenow with the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, who bought nearly 200 sandwiches. “We want to support you with our pocketbook as well as with our words."
Debbie Barnhart arrived at the restaurant in an SUV packed with her friends and family.
"I order things from Amazon, and they support gays, so I don't have a problem with that,” Barnhart said. "But when a company says they support traditional marriage values, then I feel like I want to support that."
Chick-fil-A brought in extra staff at some locations and extra supplies in anticipation of the rush.
McGehee said she wasn’t bothered by the chain’s enormous support, and hopes the attention will encourage more people to support her cause later this week.
“Regardless of how many people show up [on Friday], we’ve gotten millions of Americans to discuss the topic,” she said.