July 24th, 2012
11:26 AM ET

Henson, Huckabee take sides in Chick-fil-A same-sex marriage controversy

[Updated at 6:36 p.m. ET] The comments about same-sex marriage made by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy a week ago continue to generate controversy this week, with politicians and fantasy creatures, well at least their handlers, weighing in.

"Guilty as charged," Cathy was quoted as saying in the Baptist Press last week when asked about his company's support of the traditional family unit as opposed to same-sex 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," Cathy was quoted as saying.

That stance didn't go over well with the Jim Henson Co., whose Jim Henson's Creature Shop toys have been served up in Chick-fil-A's meals for kids. Jim Henson Co. is named after the creator of the Muppets, though the company transferred the Muppets' rights and ownership to the Walt Disney Co. in 2003, according to Jim Henson Co.

"The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors," the company said in a posting on its Facebook page.

"Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)," the Henson Co.'s posting said.

The posting, which is dated Friday, had drawn more than 10,000 likes and 2,000 comments as of Tuesday morning.

Also drawing numbers on Facebook was a page by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 GOP presidential candidate, which calls for people to turn out to Chick-fil-A restaurants on August 1 to show their support for what Cathy had to say about marriage.

"I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick fil-A company because the CEO, Dan Cathy, made comments recently in which he affirmed his view that the biblical view of marriage should be upheld," Huckabee wrote on the page, which can also be found at www.ISupportChickFilA.com.

"No one is being asked to make signs, speeches or openly demonstrate. The goal is simple: Let's affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, August 1," wrote Huckabee. As of Tuesday morning, more than 88,000 people had indicated they would be heading to a restaurant on August 1.

One place Chick-fil-A supporters won't be eating on August 1 is Boston. The Massachusetts capital has no Chick-fil-A restaurants, and after Cathy's comments, Boston's mayor says he doesn't want any in his city.

“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino was quoted as saying by the Boston Herald.

For its part, Chick-fil-A said last week as the controversy was heating up that it didn't want to be involved in politics.

"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.

But don't expect those comments to calm things.

The next focus of the controversy may be the Chick-fil-A in Laguna Hills, California. Youth Empowered to Act, an Orange County group of LGBT leaders age 14 to 24, says on its Facebook page it will protest outside the restaurant's opening on Thursday. The group will try to persuade potential customers to take their business to nearby competitors that the group says do more to support LGBT equality, according to a posting on the GLAAD site.

Correction: Previous versions of this story identified toys given away with Chick-Fil-A meals as Muppets. They were not. The toys are characters from Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

More on Chick-fil-A and religion:

A social media storm over Chick-fil-A

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers defend Chick-fil-A

Ed Helms has beef with Chick-fil-A

Eatocracy: Fast food with a side of faith 

10 religious companies besides Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A controversy sheds light on restaurant's Christian DNA

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Filed under: Fast Food • Gay and lesbian • Religion • Showbiz
soundoff (1,200 Responses)
  1. QS

    I'm over this ridiculous notion that religious beliefs should be respected. I don't care what a person believes personally and individually, I really don't. But simply because enough people happen to believe the same thing does not mean that belief is now the status quo, no matter how much religious people want to believe that.

    I don't care how much of a right you have to hold that belief, I don't care how much of a right you have to express that belief openly, I don't care how adamant religious people are that theirs is the superior morality....I don't care what you believe.

    I will not respect a belief that considers me an abomination for no reason. I will not respect a perspective that allows a person to justify discrimination based on nothing more than those beliefs. I will not respect religion unless and until religion actually gives me a reason to.

    As of yet, it has failed miserably at earning my respect and over the course of my life has actually gone backwards in that regard. I disagree that a person holding a disciminatory belief should be respected for that belief, regardless of which form of indoctrination led that person to that belief.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • jakedog

      Try the Episcopal church. We will welocome you with open arms.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • QS

      No, you won't....because I'm an Atheist.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • OK

      Ditto goes for your "beliefs" I am tired of trying to satisfy your "beliefs" by ignoring mine.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • QS

      My beliefs center around equality – religious beliefs center around control and division. So you're tired of trying to satisfy equality? Got it. Thanks for making my point.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. New Gawker

    Religion is so full of hate.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • New Gawker

      Except Buddhism.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus

      New Gawker–there is a big difference between RELIGION and CHRISTIANITY. Did you mean to say RELIGION is full of hate? Because if you did, I agree with you. However, Christianity is NOT full of hate.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lance C.

    It's very amusing to see people so openly intolerant of differing views all the while accusing those they disagree with of intolerance. Expressions like "hate groups" have come to represent any group that believes something that another group may not. If you don't share my beliefs then you are obviously a bigot, a racist, a xenophobe, etc. As a society we really need to stop demonizing everyone with a different opinion from our own.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • QS

      Religion gets the gold for doing this and should be held accountable for demonizing all others who don't believe the same way.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elmer Fudd

      Christianity is NOT full of hate.
      But Christians are.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tiffany J

      That's not at all what people mean when they say hate groups. When a deeply opinionated [person, group, or in this case company] decide to alienate, discriminate, or otherwise intimidate certain groups of people – that is hate-full.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jakedog

    Huckabee is the same jerk the rub elbows with that nutball Ted Nugent. Sorry Ted, liked the music back in the 70's but you turned out to be a whacko.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elmer Fudd

      Ted Nugent paid some parents $25.000 dollars to marry thier 16 year old daughter.
      He banged her and divorced her.
      Expensive puddy.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JSaunders

    "J Saunders you don't get it...He is forcing us to line up by donating millions to hate groups to discriminate against gays."

    He is not forcing anything. The issue I'm talking about just happened to me. You think that because I don't agree with your opinion, I am wrong.

    My opinion is just that: my opinion. You say that I don't get it....I do get it. You are just as intolerant as the ones I mentioned in my post.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. J Kelly

    I'm tired of hearing about "biblical definition of marriage". The Bible does not state, not even ONCE, that marriage is between one man and one woman. Sure, it says plural marriages are ok. It also says marrying your slave is ok. It even talks about marriages to trade land and cease disputes, but once again, not about one mand and one woman or even a marriage of love, only marriages of convenience. Read your Bible people! Jesus abstained from marriage and so did most of his disciples, They even encouraged their followers to abstain from marriage.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • sickandtired

      you evidently didnt read your bible...first book...genesis..God created them male and female...adam and eve...not adam and steve.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jkhur

      Actually according to your religious belief God created Steve too. He cre4ated us all therefore he created gays therefore he is cool with it. Of course this ignores that marriage is not biblically based for anyone who doesn't believe in the bible and that marriage existed long before the bible...

      July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    "Yes, we bless every chicken with holy water and a short prayer prior to the murdering and bood letting".
    Profiteering off one of the filthiest animals on earth.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. denver

    "The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect..."

    "...of course, outside of our restaurants, we will continue to subject some of our customers to hatred and bigorty. But not while they're in the restaurant giving us money. Just outside, while they're trying to enjoy their lives."

    July 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Parkerman

    There is no hate from a Christian who believes in family values as being between one man and one woman. We respect all types of people, work with them and some are good friends. We just do not not simply share some of the same ideals. Why do people jump down the hate wagon so fast. Chic-fil-a is not discrimanting against gay and lesbians either to their customers nor their workers. Their leadership just simply does not believe in that as a value. How in the world is that hate?

    July 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • denver

      I think people characterize it as "hate" because Chickfil-a is all too happy to take money from gay patrons and then use that money to fund political causes that are hostile to gays in public life.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mike

    There sure are a lot of people who can't seem to tolerate Chick-Fil-A's owners for sticking to their religious beliefs. Which intolerance is "good intolerance" and which intolerance is "bad intolerance"? Is there an official guide somewhere?

    July 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Edward

    I wonder if the people in CNN comments who are calling for a boycott of Chick-Fill-A are thinking about the results of their actions? Keep in mind that a restaurant needs MANY people to make it work as a business, and those people need their jobs.

    Chick-Fil-A employs people who need jobs and income. You may not agree with what the CEO says or believes, but how does it punish him when you boycott the chain? Will this change his mind or beliefs?

    Imagine that a boycott was successful and seriously hurt the company, to the point where they have to close down some restaurants. Imagine what happens to the employees who are now jobless. What are their beliefs, who are they, why should they suffer for the opinions of one person? Will the CEO take his money and help them, or will he continue to feed the charities he is already supporting?

    It's easy to throw words around, and actions speak louder than words. But be careful, actions, like words, can have undesir5able consequences.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • denver

      It's called "voting with your wallet", Edward. If you think a business is doing something wrong, you refuse to support them until they change or go out of business.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PhiloFare

    The Muppets haven't said anything about Chick-Fil-A. the Henson company no longer owns the Muppets. They were selling "Creature Shop Puppets."

    July 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. The Last Word

    Who cares about the muppets. A bunch of stuffed rags.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Anthony

    Who cares? The Muppets don't make that chicken taste totally awesome anyway!

    July 24, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Monterey

    I'm glad someone is standing up for what they believe in, we can all get along we don't have to be best friends. Why should gay people have a right to say what they believe and straight people are ridicule when they say what they believe in????

    July 24, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • WDS

      I think it was less the "what he said" that what he supports. And voting with your pocketbook is a time honored tradition. If there was a restaurant chain that supported gay marriage but not traditional marriage I wouldn't eat there, either.

      July 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • shan

      I honestly don't understand why this is big news. Everybody should know (particularly a company that is entering a major partnership with them) that Chick Fil A is a conservative, Christian company. They are closed on Sundays! How many other fast food restaurants do that? NONE.

      So don't be surprised, Jim Henson company, by what they said. I'm not saying you have to agree with it but use some common sense.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      I'm straight. I say boycott businesses that support limiting civil rights of gays in America!

      July 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • ironman59

      You have a right to say it & others have the right to ridicule you as well. It is no different than the hate and physical violence that happens to those the "straight" world dislike. It is also the right of Jim Henson Productions to terminate their business relationship with the company and spend their profit as the see fit. It is also the right of everyone in this country to show their dislike by not eating at Chick-Fil-A in the future. I suspect over time there will be a trend down in sales.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • OpenUReyes

      And you should reserve you're right to burn crosses on the lawns of people you don't like?

      July 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • YeahRight

      "Why should gay people have a right to say what they believe and straight people are ridicule when they say what they believe in???"

      Because gay people are being denied their civil rights! Duh!

      July 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
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