The Chick-fil-A controversy is spawning what might be a historic occasion: A rally cry from a former governor to honor a fast-food restaurant chain’s stance against gay marriage.
“National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” on Aug. 1 is the idea of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a conservative Republican anchor on Fox News, who is known for denouncing out-of-wedlock pregnancy and reinforcing Christian fundamentalist values.
Huckabee put out the call for the event in response to a backlash from same-sex marriage advocates against Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, who reaffirmed his belief in the “biblical” definition of marriage during a two separate media interviews in the past month. Cathy told the Baptist Press he was “guilty as charged” of supporting traditional marriage and denouncing gay marriage. And now, it seems, Chick-fil-A’s sentencing has begun.
Twitter was awash immediately with passionate reactions of anyone with a dog in the fight: Christians, gay marriage advocates, chicken sandwich lovers, animal rights activists. Tune into the 140-character argument here.
As the aftermath unfolds, leaders whose reach extends beyond the digi-sphere are picking sides on the issue.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is attempting to block the fast food chain from expanding in his city, saying “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values.” The chain isn’t welcome in Boston either, according to a letter written by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, in which he pledges to stonewall Chick-fil-A from opening an outlet in the city limits.
“When Massachusetts became the first state in the country to recognize equal marriage rights, I personally stood on City Hall Plaza to greet same sex couples coming here to be married,” Menino wrote. “It would be an insult to them and to our city's long history of expanding freedom to have a Chick-fil-A across the street from that spot.”
On Tuesday, the leader of an evangelical Christian humanitarian organization came to Cathy’s aid. In a mass e-mail campaign, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association President Franklin Graham urges people to swing by Chick-fil-A on Aug. 1 and “let them know how much you appreciate them and their stand.”
Graham wrote, “I applaud the courage of Cathy to take a bold stand for the biblical definition of marriage between a man and woman in a culture that has grown openly hostile to the Christian faith and its followers.”
His message ends with a verse from the Bible, Daniel 11:32: “The people who know their God will display strength and take action.”
All hail the mighty chicken sandwich.
Follow Gregory Thomas on Twitter: @gregrthomas