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. johnxrod

    Pretty ridiculous. Lets face it one of the most intolerant groups in America is the GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) associated folks who are intolerant of any one who shares their feelings and beliefs that do not align with their agenda. They are quick to blast anyone or any business where people use their free speech rights to express themselves. Just look around where these aligned folks have placed their stamp. Seen a good number of areas around the world where their behavior is intolerant of others trying to enjoy a break or vacation. Good to listen and hear the opinions of folks, but lets quit allowing this overly focal small percentage of the population ruin good things for a lot of folks who could care less about their preferences which through history has been shown to be out of the norm.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      That is so silly. That is like saying that anyone who opposes racism is unAmerican because they are opposing free speech. Get real.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • QS

      So you condone removing freedoms and rights from gay people because they disagree with your particular brand of cult lunacy? Got it.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • mccoy

      I agree completely.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kate

    So, lets get this straight, (no pun intended). It's OK to say that gay unions are supported and that companies and organizations support them , yet its not OK for others to voice their opinions that don't reflect that same belief. Let's be fair here. Frankly, I support Chick-fil-A for making it's opinion public and not being afraid of the back lash. How about we boycott the muppets because they support gay union. Grow up people. Within reason, people can voice their thoughts. Now, I am eating Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, who is with me?

    July 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • johnxrod

      Yea man maybe three times that day and each day till then.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rita

      Kate, very good point. Why don't people boycott the muppetts over this. Maybe because rational people see both sides of a contravertional issue and decide not to have an opinion one way or the other. I agree with your comment.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patricio

      I'm in!!! Well said, this is a business owner who asserted his belief. I don't recall him saying that gays or lesbians couldn't eat there.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      How about we boycott the muppets because they support gay union.
      Punctuation? Anyways, I don't understand this "question", no one is stopping you from boycotting the muppets...

      July 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • QS

      You still need to get this straight apparently – the Jim Henson Co. has every right to disagree and not associate with this restaurant chain. But that does not translate to what conservatives' paranoia always leads them to believe – that them stating their opinion is somehow trampling on the free speech of somebody else.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith123

      Already ate at Chic-fil-A today. Since the other fast food places seem to be going downhill, I think CFA will continue to grow. As opposed to the others, CFA offers good-quality food, clean restaurants, and friendly service. The others seem to be reducing the sizes of their items while charging just as much as they did previously.

      It's getting to be where you can't even say what you believe in anymore. He didn't say anything negative about anyone, just that he supports the traditional views on marriage.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jason B

    "Oh we don't discriminate, we just think you're beneath us."

    And would someone please remind Huckabee that this country is run on laws...not Bibles.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • QS

      Not just Huckabee, but the entire conservative side of this country!

      July 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rita

    I wish we would ALL stop debating civil rights and start living them. You are you and well me, I am me. Isn't that all there should be too it. Treat others like you want to be treated. I know nice in theory.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ron

    The Chick-fil-A has a right to say what he wants. I have the right to NOT eat at any of his restaurants. And I won't.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • babaloui

      and we'll miss you too......

      July 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sally

    Chick-fil-a is doing nothing wrong (legally). Cathy is free to express his opinion, whatever that may be. He is also free to give his money to anti-gay movements if he chooses.

    However, I am also free to decide that I will not spend money at an establishment that uses their earnings in a way that I personally don't agree with.And I would encourage those who feel the same way to do the same. I cannot support Chick-fil-a, by eating at their restuarants, in good conscience. I will not support intolerance and discrimination (not by Chick-fil-a but by those they support).

    As it's in their rights as a company to stand behind their beliefs, it's also in my rights to stand behind mine.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jkhur

      Well said.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kathy

    I will be there on August 1st....thank Gov. Mike Huckabee and Dan Cathey

    July 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. HappyMadison

    Chik-Fil-A: If you don't want to be involved in politics, than keep your trap shut about political hot topics.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patricio

      ..."keep your mouth shut" LOL that's tolerance, right? How ridiculous!!! Freedom of speech also applies to business owners, at least last I checked.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    OpenUReyes – Actually most preachers don't preach hatred against gays... If you want to go YouTube some idiot that is going off on gays you will find it, however most Christians DO NOT preach hatred against gays. However the left likes to twist what they say to make it like they do... Just like they are doing with Chick-Fil-A.

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

      equally Peter Thiel can say he doesnt think women's suffrage was a good idea, but because hes a wealthy gay man from cali, there will be no outrage. simple respect for his opinion and it becomes a non-issue.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • QS

      Liar. What you perceive as not being hate is simply masked as self-righteousness. Even those so-called "tolerant" religions and churches will still call gay people sinners simpy because they have to, it's part of the belief system they belong to.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Over Stupidity

    and do you think all gays belong to that GLADD? Again are you that stupid?

    July 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NorCalMojo

    I bet this story has boosted chicken sandwich sales across the board. I'm really craving on right now.

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

    vote with your dollar. if you dont like them, dont eat there.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bill Miller

    It's a sad state of affairs when people who don't agree with the gay agenda are called bigots. Not agreeing in not the same thing as intolerant we don't care if you want to be gay that's your choice but I have the same choice so let me make mine without all the name calling. I can't imagine how or earth you can say such an unatural act can become normal and by my not agreeing with it makes me wrong.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike


      July 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Are you dense? It is not wrong to believe in what you believe. However, it is wrong to deny people equal rights in this country, which is what Chick-fil-a does with it's money. Get it?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JB

    Isn't it sad that people cannot have their own opinion anymore. Because agree or disagree that is his opinion.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • frmrma

      @ JB – no one said he can't have his opinions. I agree it is sad that you seem to think that the opposition is not allowed to have ther voice and their opinions, or choose to not do business with a company that takes a stance contrary to their beliefs.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • WO

      Im afraid it's not just their opinion. It's the fact they've funded(over 2 million in fact) organizations that are involved in the politics of preventing any change to marriage in the US to prevent the LGBT community from marrying. That's a gross misuse of power funded by customers of all backgrounds...people can have their opinions but using customer money to fuel your agenda is quite another thing.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Todd

    Dear Chick-fil-A: Shut up and stick to making sandwhiches. And hurry it up, I'm hungry.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
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