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. James

    All you hypocrites can continue to argue. I'm going to watch a Muppet movie while eating my Chick-Fil-a sandwich because I accept the fact everyone has different beliefs and ideals.

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

      You go, Jim, I'm with you 100% (must be a Jim thing)

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

      Right on!

      July 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. GenericBrandTrollFeed

    I would consider offering free sandwiches at the picketed store for anti-protestor sign holders.

    Everyone is welcome to their beliefs. If YETA made millions selling delicious chicken sandwiches, I'm sure this wouldn't be news.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Elmer Fudd

    Ernie & Bert have an announcement.
    The Christians are not going to like it.

    Go Muppets.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RogueProphet

    So is it safe to assume you don't like that Jim Henson has publicly declared his support for gay marriage? I don't think it dumb at all to make a public stand for what you believe in. I am a Christian and fully support this company's Christian stance. I support and applaud Chi-fil-A's public announcement. Now, there's no gray area. If you support gay marriage you now know of at least one company to avoid and that is your right.

    Don't misunderstand my post. I'm not saying I am either for or against publicly announcing how you feel about anything. TBH, I don't care. I'm just saying it was a dumb business move.

    People have the right to express themselves. Goodie goodie goodie. People rarely exercise that right responsibly. Anyone out there tossing their opinion on the matter should be prepared to catch gunfire from one side or the other. Both of these companies don't belong in this arguement. Make cute muppets and delicious chicken biscuits. People will buy your product, for certain. Start exercising company leadership opinion on the matter, less people will buy your product. Your employees suffer, your staff suffers, your business suffers, and your stock holders suffer. You are not in the business of reporting your opinion. You are in the fast food and entertainment business.

    Now, IF you support one of these companies for expressing an opinon that is in alignment with your own, good for you. Continue to do so if you'd like. I have no desire to stop you. I'm just stating its bad business. Hard to argue with that.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rita

    I don't understand why people are protesting! In the USA isn't it OK to disagree? I believe in the traditional family unit. But I know people who are un-traditional in their family unit. That does not mean I won't associate with them. I just don't agree. They don't push their lifestyle on me and nor do I push my lifestyle on them. We just disagree. I thought that was a right in this country. Why is it that when people now a days disagree there are protests and in this case ruining a family business? Wasn't our country founded because we did not like Englands demand we follow the rules they set out for us? Religion or other wise. I wish people would STOP pushing their views on others. We don't agree...thats all there is too it!

    July 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • denver

      When Chick-fil-a subsidizes anti-gay causes they are forcing their religious beliefs on everyone. When a gay person wants to get married, they are forcing their beliefs on no one.

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

      I agree, Rita! That's why we're boycotting Chick Fil A, because they support enforcing Christian beliefs on non-Christians by funding PAC's dedicated to that cause. Once they stop trying to enforce THEIR beliefs on US, me and Kermit and Piggie and all the other millions of civil rights supporters will come back and have some of their chicken. Maybe. 😉

      July 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • QS

      "They don't push their lifestyle on me and nor do I push my lifestyle on them."

      Do you eat at this restaurant? Do you vote to deny marriage rights to gay people? This is the issue we're talking about that anti-gay people seem to want to deflect the conversation away from – people can have whatever belief they want...they cannot force others to follow those beliefs through law...regardless of what certain people believe marriage SHOULD be.

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

      Rita, it should be pretty clear why creating/funding legislation that prevents gay people from marrying simply because your personal religion says it is wrong is hateful.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Hot Tip

    Dan Cathy for President – Dan had the guts and balls to stand up what he believes in regardless of the backlash. (no pun intended)

    July 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • jmm

      Yeah, discrimination is a great business strategy. believe what you want, just keep your mouth shut when you are the CEO of a major company. Love the Muppets and while I have enjoyed Chik fil a in the past, i am sure my body can go without overly processed breaded chicken and less than good fries.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Anthony

    Who writes these articles anyway?

    July 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. decredico

    Even inanimate puppets are smart enough to know Chick-fil-A is for people that hate.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rita

      I would respectfully like to ask where does the hate come in. They said nothing about hating gay and lesbians. They never said they wouldn't serve gay and lesbians. They just said they believe in the traditional family unit. Why is that hateful?

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

      Chick-fil-a isn't a place for people that hate. It's for people who like a good chicken sandwich and a side of fries. I support gay rights, I love that the muppets are donating the money they get from chick-fil-a towards GLADD. And, after this controversy blows over, I'm going right back to chick fil a. They're nice to everyone at the restaurant, gay or straight.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bible believer

    I support Chik-Fil-A with there stand. Way to go, Its about time Christians take a stand. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • denver

      You are going to be so bummed with it turns out that the Zoroastrians were right...

      July 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Dalloway

      That's what you think.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • twinelms

      Thanks, Bible believer, I am with you.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PCantor

    Which biblical definition of the family unit is he referring to? Solomon and his 700 wives and 300 concubines? Jesus is about love. Let's leave the judging to him.

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

      actually he was condemned for taking those wives since they were from other nations so no this does not reflect the Gods view of marriage

      July 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bobby frank

    I and alot of my gay friends have not been eating there for years because of their stance against gay people. There are lots of other places to go that respect all Americans so we will stay away. Glad they re-affirmed their stance so that we can continue to not eat there. The food is really not that healthy for kids and i feel like they should be worried more about nutrition than discrimination.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • twinelms

      And I don't shop at Target and JCP because they support gay marriage.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TIP

    So if you disagree with anything the Mayor of Boston Believes in you will not be allowed to do business in his city. To me that is a governement official running a socialist state. Just like our current President is trying to do.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • OpenUReyes

      TIP, time for you to stay in Texa*s, in Boston there are laws in the books that prohibit discrimination against gays, if a business wants to do business in both Boston, and Massachusetts they have to follow the laws on human rights.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. darinstreaks

    Libs, libs, libs. The speech is free only when you agree, dissentors be damned!

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

      It's called voting with your feet. Don't pretend conservatives don't boycott companies over ideology all the time. You guys were boycotting JC Penny just a couple months ago!

      July 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rita

      i agree fully!

      July 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Yeah, as if conservatives love to hear what we have to say. At least we're not trying to deny you civil recognition. I don't remember last time I heard a lib imply that some "dissentor" (sic) is "going to Hell." Isn't that what "damning" actually is? I hope you know a good glass guy, because I think you broke your house with that stone there.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      Why should people be labeled as "liberals" because they didn't like his comments. "Free Speech" just means that you have the right to express your believes. However, it does not guarantee that what you express has to be liked. People disagree with his beliefs so they don't want to spend their money there. That, believe it or not, is how the freedoms of this country work. Cathy stood up for his beliefs, good for him. But to a lot of people, his views are narrow minded and passe' for this day and age.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sickandtired

    if you dont like what the guy said, dont eat there! problem solved! why go about tryin to influence everyone else to either eat there or not. when will people mind there own business.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Michael in Houston

    Perhaps....as Christians and as self proclaimed followers of "biblical principles", this corporation and the 88,000 "believers" should consider wiping the brow of a dying AIDS patient or give to a charity that serves children WITH NO FAMILY, rather then calling on its "faithful" to show up and stuff their face with a sandwich to demonstrate their support.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      Christians give much more to charity than any other group. In fact, many national charities were started by Christians. Who do gays give to? Their own causes only. If is about AIDS, they donate, but do they give to the starving masses around the world? No. Christians help orphans, AIDS patients, drill water wells around the world, feed the impovershed. A very selfish group all around. Name me one non-gay issue that a large gay group supports. You can't.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Michael, as Christians we do those things and much more.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • kbmomof5

      How do you know they don't?

      July 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richie Cunningham

      That's a fallacious comment. It implies only two choices... either give to a charity or stuff their face with a sandwich. Why can't they do both?

      July 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • justanotherguy60

      Your reasoning goes beyond the fray. Chic-Fil-A does more than you will ever do in your lifetime. Also, who says that the company has to give its profits away to any charity, there are no laws governing any company. It would be nice for them to give to Christian organizations that help people all over the world, but that is their choice not ours.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • unknown11

      I do not agree with Chick-Fill-A at all on this. But, you should be aware that Christian charities do all that you ask. As a matter of fact, without Christian charities, there would not be much charity directly helping people in this country. So, please try to keep your judgements to only those with whom you disagree, and I will try not to let the flaming cross dressers in the pride parade cloud my view on all gays.

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

      Perhaps you should try reading. Gov Huckabee requested the 'eat-in' support. Not the corporation

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