More than a week after Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made remarks putting him at odds with the gay community, politicians and activists are encouraging local boycotts that could undercut the fast-food chain's bottom line.
Cathy's statement that his company's ethos conformed to the "the biblical definition of the family unit" was only bolstered by remarks he made on a radio show.
"I think we're inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say you know, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage," Cathy said, according to local news.
Chick-fil-A quickly attempted to distance itself from the remarks, releasing a statement saying the company always strove "to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."
"Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena," the company added.
However, local politicians, including the mayors of Boston and Chicago, have both already weighed in on the debate, saying the Atlanta-based company could take their business elsewhere.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he would block the company from the city but then walked back his remarks Thursday due to legal concerns.
Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Mayor and former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, has stood his ground in support of a local alderman's decision that building a new Chick-fil-A location in his area would not fit with the open, accepting environment of his ward, long known to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.
"Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values," Emanuel said in a statement. "They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty."
"If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don't want you in the 1st Ward," Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday.
Calling Cathy's stance bigoted and homophobic, Moreno added, "Because of this man's ignorance, I will now be denying Chick-fil-A's permit to open a restaurant in the 1st Ward."
The company of Muppet-creator Jim Henson also announced it would end its partnership with Chick-fil-A after Cathy's remarks. Chick-fil-A later pulled the company's toys from its kids' meals, citing safety issues.
Local activists are also planning protests the same day new stores are slated to open across the country. LGBT groups are encouraging both boycotts and "Kiss-In" demonstrations between same-sex couples.
In opposition to the protests, conservative politicians and pundits have called for anti-gay marriage advocates to support Chick-fil-A during this time.
Former Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have both come out in support of "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" next week.
"We're simply asking people to eat chicken and not to be one when it's time to take a stand — our appreciation is not only for the views of Dan Cathy, but for his right to have them and express them freely," Huckabee said of the day.
"It is sad that liberal groups call for tolerance yet they are vicious in their intolerance when someone disagrees with them," Santorum said in a recent Facebook posting.
Sales for the company could drop in some areas of the country, pundits say, while other believe increased support for the chain in the Bible Belt could balance out any negative effects the boycotts could have.
Pundits also point out the company, which chooses to stay closed on Sunday, can make unilateral sales decisions because it is under private ownership.
by RTT Staff Writer
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