It was the lunch hour and a long line of cars snaked around the Chick-Fil-A restaurant at the Boulevard Capital Centre and inside the Landover restaurant a manager was needed to direct people to five different lines packed in front of the counter.
Since opening in 2003, this Prince George’s County Chick-Fil-A has earned national recognition for its sales, but on Wednesday people came to the restaurant to satisfy their political appetite as well as their hunger in the wake of a firestorm sparked by the chicken giants owner that was offended members of the gay community.
“The protest against Chick-Fil-A is the very reason I am here today,” said Darin Anderson, 40, a government worker from Anne Arundel County. “More and more you see people protesting against things that used to be fundamental in America.”
Brandon Small, 29, a sales manager for a Largo firm, said, “This protest just seems like another form a religious persecution. The owner of Chick-Fil-A wasn’t talking against gay people he was expressing his own views.”
In a comments published in the Baptist Press on July 16, Chick-Fil-A’s President and Chief Executive Officer Dan Cathy reportedly said that his company is very supportive of family in terms of “the biblical definition of the family unit.” He went onto say, “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
Following Cathy’s comments, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino sent a letter to Chick-Fil-A official urging them to reconsider putting a store in a popular Boston location and other big city mayors weighed in including D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray who said that the restaurant wasn’t welcomed in the District.
On Friday, gay activists plan to stage a “Kiss-In” at a number of chick-Fil-A stores across the country and locally, from Landover to Rockville, people are sounding off on a issue that has divided people along political and religious lines.
Marta Silva said while she came to Landover to pick up a birth certificate for her child, she decided to eat at Chick-Fil-A to show her support.
“We decided to go over to the restaurant because it is not about what I believe but about what God says,” said Silva, who lives in Rockville. “This is not about gay people. We need to support all of God’s children, but we are to rest on the truth of the Lord.”
The firestorm over Chick-Fil-A has boosted sales at the Landover restaurant, said Keith Singletary, who owns the store and another store in Capitol Heights, Md., which is near the Washington, D.C., line.
“We have been overwhelmed by the support that we have received,” said Singletary, adding since the news broke, “We have seen an increase,” in terms of business.
Singletary declined to comment about the company’s president’s position on same-sex marriage.
“Our focus is very simple: We are just trying to serve a very good sandwich in a hospitable environment,” he said
Among those waiting in line to grab was Dan Goff.
“I think that it is ridiculous to think that the opinions of one man should be the basis of a protest against the entire company,” Goff said. “The mayor of Boston needs to get real.”
But Vanessa Bowling, spokesman for Equality Maryland , said, “It is definitely hurtful to see that there are people who disagree with the love that you share for someone and trying to get the legal rights that come along with marriage.”
Bowling said while Equality Maryland has endorsed any campaign against Chick-Fil-A the group also has benefited from the furor. Activists on the Internet have asked that $6.50, about the cost of a Chick-Fil-A meal, be donated to local groups.“We have gotten a lot of response.”
Bowling said the focus of the organization is the November election where people will go to the polls and vote on whether or not to endorse the Maryland Marriage Equality Act.
“Hopefully in Maryland the majority of people will speak and say that Maryland does support Marriage equality” Bowling said.