July 19th, 2012
07:25 AM ET

Chick-fil-A's gay marriage stance causing a social storm

The fact that Chick-fil-A is a company that espouses Christian values is no secret. The fact that its 1,600 fast-food chicken restaurants across the country are closed on Sundays has long been testament to that.

But the comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage to Baptist Press on Monday have ignited a social media wildfire.

"Guilty as charged," Cathy said when asked about his company's support of the traditional family unit as opposed to gay marriage.

"We are very much supportive of the family - the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that," Cathy is quoted as saying.

Strong feelings of support and disagreement have followed, making Chick-fil-A the top Google trend on Thursday morning as the company's Facebook and Twitter pages were burning up with arguments.

"Hate mongers! Never again! Not another $ from me," Duke Richards wrote on Facebook.

"Goodbye Chikkk-fil-a! your food was delicious, but I can no longer eat nuggets filled with hate!" read a post by Blake Brown.

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"I am truly ashamed of the recent admittance from Mr Cathy about your bigoted company practices. I hate the fact that my money was used for this. I will never support your company (and) will make sure anyone I know does not either," Mikell Kirbis wrote on Facebook. "While I'm not a Christian I know that hate is not in God's plan nor (is) ignorantly picking sections of the Bible to brandish. Good bye and I hope either you change your ways or close down."

But the support for the company was just as vehement.

"Just wanted to say I'm proud that you stand firm in your beliefs. You knew the risks, and still took the plunge. May God bless this company with abundance. Never back down!" said a Facebook post from David Jones.

"Thank you for standing up for what you believe. The truth is not hate. It's just the truth," wrote Sharon R Boyd.

"I love the values that this restaurant stands for and will support it every dang chance I get! Pay no attention to the morons spewing hate!" read a post from Raymond Joy.

Does religion influence what you buy? Share your view on CNN iReport.

Twitter comments were also divided.

[tweet https://twitter.com/MissMerica/status/225806557227667457%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/danforthfrance/status/225812600171139073%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/TheEvilWesley/status/225760117864402944%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/ChuckyMcDaniel/status/225814099492220928%5D

In a statement to CNN on Wednesday, the company said it would stick by its principles, but it tried to withdraw from the heated social media debate over them.

"The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent owner/operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena," said a statement from Don Perry, the company's vice president of corporate public relations.

The Human Rights Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, said Wednesday that Cathy's comments gave consumers a clear choice.

“It's strange to say, but it's good to see Chick-fil-A finally admit to their anti-LGBT policies," Michael Cole-Schwartz, the organization's director of communications, told CNN. "Now fair-minded consumers can make up their own minds whether they want to support an openly discriminatory company or take their business elsewhere.  As the country moves toward inclusion, Chick-fil-A has staked out a decidedly stuck-in-the-past mentality.”

Polling shows increasing support for gay marriage in the United States. A CNN/ORC Poll conducted in late May found 54% of respondents favoring the legal recognition of gay marriage with 42% opposed. The poll had a sampling error of 3%.

Let us know what you think about Chick-fil-A's stance in the comments below.

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soundoff (4,679 Responses)
  1. Mike'sOpinion

    If you've ever been divorced and remarried, are you allowed to eat at Chick-Fil-A? Go read Leviticus on that subject.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Think

    Why would a company choose to alienate or "make uncomfortable" a major market segment – LGBT;s and the people who support them – in this economic recession? Doesn't make sense to me.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uriah

      Major market?

      July 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Henderson

      Think – What REALLY shouldn't make sense is that people are getting up-in-arms over a fairly innocuous statement.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Henderson

    Steve O-

    Speaking of disregarded logic, I like what you did with your post. You essentially boiled the entire thing down to the black-and-white minimum of "If you disagree with me, you're wrong.". Personal beliefs are all well and good, but when you start using them as justification for blanket statements or poorly-arrived-at conclusions, they can be a real pain in the hind-end.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. J. Morales

    Thanks for this article CNN. I made sure to hit up Chick-Fil-A's facebook page and give my support to them there as well 😉 It's nice to see at least one company taking a stand. As for all those threatening boycott, good luck. Boycott's don't work or else Starbucks and General Mills, two companies who have also involved themselves in the SSM debate, would be out of business, or at least hurting. Quite frankly if all companies would stay out of politics that would be fine with me but that means stay out of it entirely.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • B. Carter

      Both general mills and starbucks are global companies, chick-fil-a is not......chick-fil-a is a very small company compared to other mainstream fast food companies and even Safeway!

      July 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Geof

    Great, less freaks in line at lunch. I have no problem with those intolerant leftist freaks, go protest at will. Boycott vasaline if you want. At least for a few more years, businesses have the right to set their own values.

    No doubt freedom will get banned along with any non-conforming opinions.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Karen

    Chick-Filet has lost my business. I support everyone's right to live and love whom they want.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Uriah

    Way to go, Chick Fil A. Thank you for standing your ground. I hope you have a huge increase in sales as a result.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chris Manganello, Esquire

    Don't support gays
    I am straight
    But still don't hate

    Elsewhere I get chicken
    A fight I'm not pickin'
    Let's hope they change their way
    Never on Sunday, but every day.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Wisconsinite

    Well, I'm a Christian, but interpret things as applying mostly to my own behavior - attempting to behave in a Christian manner towards others, not telling them how to behave. As such, I have no interest in marrying another guy (and wouldn't even if I was an atheist), but I don't see why gays or lesbians should be unable to marry. I suppose I'm a bit like a Jew with pork in that way. I actually view it as a Christian's duty to support things like this which tend to increase respect for the individual and respectful treatment of the individual - after all, is not God in all things, in all hearts - is there before him male or female, high or low, straight or gay, or is it not rather that there are souls righteous or unrighteous? And how can someone claim to righteous if they oppose something that will have a positive effect on other people, and a negative effect on nobody?

    Those who are hating on Christianity here should remember, though, that most of our idea of a human being as having any intrinsic, individual worth at all comes from Christianity. See, for example, the pagan Romans who conceived of a human being as some sort of object which could be bought, sold, killed by their owner, etc. So the situation is more complex here than you paint it, either - there's a paradox, certainly, but it's the immense value the Christian philosophy puts on the individual's value that ultimately has allowed gay marriage, civil rights, etc. to develop at all.

    And you shouldn't tar all Christians and all religious people with the same brush. There are a lot of them who have come out in favor of gay marriage, too, you know. Check out the Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance, for example. Or Google "Interfaith Rally Held In Bangor Supporting Gay Marriage".

    July 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chris

    And for all of you talking about marriage equality, that is a government issue. They need to separate church and state...church can have "traditional" marriages...but the government can grant rights to "civil unions". If you are married...you are also a union...if you are gay, you still can have your union, and the rights you want. I have solved the decades old issue.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • RW

      Why not just eliminate all references to social unions in the law? Why can't everyone be considered single under the law?

      July 19, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. James

    Looks like I'll never again be patronizing Chick-Fil-A. Sad to see it and its leadership have chosen to be on the wrong side of history. The boycott starts now.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. spiT

    With all of this free publicity, they will come out ahead. If you look into the background of the companies you already do business with you will find something that goes against your grain. I prefer good fast food to garbage, no matter how they vote.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Holly Holland

    GOOD JOB CHICK-FIL-A!!!!! God is going to bless them more than ever for standing true to His word and not caring what people think! And what GOD (the creator of the universe and the reason for our exsistance) says is not ok is NOT hate or discriminating its the truth!

    July 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • BIg Gay John

      Based on what you just said Holly, your husband should be keeping many wives and beating you on a daily basis. How's that working out for ya? Just another so called religous nut that picks and chooses what part of the bible is good for them..Sad

      July 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dmc64

    Why is this even a story; of course Chick-fil-A would be opposed to gay marriage. ALL OF AMERICA ALREADY KNOWSTHIS!!! Guess what "gay america", noone really cares if that offends your hair-trigger sensibilities.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Biz

    Support of family values doesn't make one a bigot or hateful person. First Amendment rights are duly exercised here. In Canada and Sweden Ministers have been prosecuted for hate speech for speaking out against gay marriage. That, my friends, is far greater intolerance. I think we as a country are moving in that direction. I'm sure many people on this board wouldn't mind seeing us be more like Sweden in that regard.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • independentlyowned

      They only support family values when it's a family THEY approve of. Gays have families, too.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Essie

      The last decade of wars in the Middle East have given us a very clear picture regarding the insanity of religion. We chastise the hate speech coming from the Mullahs there, but embrace the hate speech here with tax free exemptions and no monitoring of their weekly nose dive into obvious hate filled religious teachings.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • senseless pillow fight

      Face it. The bickering isn't about morals or values. Its about benefits. If the government recognized civil unions as they do marraige gays wouldn't care about your religion, nor would it be a topic. So make it happen. Give civil unions a push, let god sort it out in the end and recognize that because people do not agree with your lifestyle choice does not mean they hate you. Either way.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • senseless pillow fight

      Face it. The bickering isn't about morals or values. Its about benefits. If the government recognized civil unions as they do marraige gays wouldn't care about your religion, nor would it be a topic. So make it happen. Give civil unions a push, let god sort it out in the end and recognize that because people do not agree with your lifestyle choice does not mean they hate you. Either way.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
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