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. Carmen

    It is about time to stand our ground, and if they descriminate, insult us for traditional values, lets boycott the people , shows, etc that can not accept diferences , I am talking about being Christian, Catholic, that gays all the time are atacking for speaking on what be believe. For some of us Marriage is a Sacrament.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wing Nuts Can't Stand The Truth

      Please don't try to forbid marriage amongst those our Lord God created gay...

      1 Timothy 4:1-5

      Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart
      from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings
      of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are
      seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God
      created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know
      the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be
      rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the
      word of God and prayer.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Casey

      For many gays, marriage is a sacrament. That is why gays want to get married.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      If religion kepts its beliefs within its own circle and out of politics then its members wouldn't have to complain about what other people think of them or their beliefs

      July 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      Christians do not possess sole claim to marriage. Greeks and Romans were being married long before a group of downtrodden farmers created Jesus and started writing him into history.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. k hatch

    Anyone else craving some Chick-Fil-A? If the muppets were a relevant show(?) I may take offense to this but....

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

      Not craving it all. I've tried it a few times and was not impressed. It was actually pretty below average, as far as chicken goes.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      Indeed. Their food is pretty subpar compared to most chicken joints.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Casey

    Yes, Chik-fil-A sticks to their principles: Bigotry and discrimination.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      So just making a statement about what they believe is now classified as being a bigot and discriminatory? You don't have to actually discriminate, but only voice an opinion that is different from yours?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      "So just making a statement about what they believe is now classified as being a bigot and discriminatory?"

      Replace "gay" in Cathy's statement with "African-American" and see if it still sounds like he isn't a bigot.

      I can't wait for 30 years to roll around and people with your line of thinking are viewed the same way we view racists today.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ed

    My husband and I used to eat at Chick-fil-A as often as possible because their chicken was (and probably still is) simply the best out there. Being gay, however, we have been boycotting them for a while, now. We will never support them with our money again. Why give them our money so that they can give it to organizations who actively try to strip us of our rights? We might as well just hand those groups the money ourselves. Unfortunately, we can't and won't support any business that doesn't support us in return.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      I missed something which rights are Chick-fil-a try to strip from you. The man just stated his belief on what a marriage is defined by his beliefs. You attack him because he does not believe the way you do so that makes him wrong? As long as no laws are broken what does it matter what a person believes or what thier opinions are on marriage. Tempest in a teacup!

      July 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Chuck, he is trying to strip me of my right to marry. Didn't you read the article or my post? No, I didn't think so.

      He isn't doing it directly, and he's allowed to believe it's wrong, but when he gives my money to groups who want to ban gay marriage, his ideas have become his actions and his actions are working to reduce my rights. My getting married didn't and won't stop him from saying or believing it is wrong, but I could end up single and unable to see my (if Cathy has his way) was-husband in the hospital (amongst many other rights – the number may be different now, but in the 90s the number of federal rights afforded married couples was 1049) because of his speech and actions.

      I could say "I believe no one should watch television". The fact that they watch TV is not hurting me in any way. Yet, I try to push the issue and ban television. This is the line of thinking I'm talking about. If I think TV is bad, I won't watch it, but I can't force it on you.

      He believes gay marriage is wrong. Fine – I couldn't care less. My getting married hasn't affected him – he's completely unaware of the marriage. When I care what someone thinks and says it when they DO something to act upon those thoughts and those actions affect me. We can't force him to agree with us or approve of us, but we will force him and those like him to tolerate us, just like we have to tolerate them – that is what freedom in this country is about.

      July 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Russ

    Boston mayor: "we're at the forefront of inclusion... except for people we disagree with. We exclude them."
    hello? pot meet kettle.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • S

      Exactly. How does the mayor know every company in his town believes they way he does?

      July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lindalou

    When they try to influence legislation, it is no longer just an opinion. It is a campaign to dictate freedom of choice. I guess that would put you right up there with a dictatorship.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Al

    A few of those dollars last year were attributed to me. Not any more. I have no desire to have people think I might be a bigot so I'll just avoid CFA and assume anyone who does go in there is a bigot.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. HatesDualStandards

    pro gay marriage: Levi, American Apparel, Nike, Microsoft, Apple, American Airlines, Google, Starbucks, etc, etc. Corporations are picking sides– and some are getting applause, and others are being attacked. Why the difference? I think we're going to continue to see this... If you don't like them, don't go there– vote with your dollars– but don't get all fired-up because this company decided to speak out against gay marriage, when all of the others I have listed, have spoken-up in support of.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. max

    lady gaga likes chick fil a...what now?

    July 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TJeffDeist1

    Gay, straight...whatever......we are one people in the eyes of one God. Everybody stop interpolating and extrapolating ad nauseum what MAN has foisted on man in the various "holy" manuals, and just listen to God. I never liked Chick-fil-a anyway...I think they use MSG in their chicken!! Gives me headaches.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. frmrma

    Of course lying is a Chrsitian value.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |

    Jim Henson Co.: incredibly inclusive and tolerant; unless you disagree with them; then its shame on you. you cant have an opinion, because they are always right.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lindalou

      So it would be more Christian of them to be intolerant of anyone not like them. To deny rights to people that are of a different persuasion. What's next? Not serving gays, blacks, hispanics, asians, special needs people, little people..etc. We are who we are..it

      July 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Francis Vela

    Some people just don't support gay marriage and never will. Why are they shamed for it? How sanctimonious of the Muppets company to garner publicity on this subject. Its reverse intimidation. I still like Chic Fil A for its tasty food. I'm impressed that someone spoke up and told us how he really feels.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • frmrma

      So, wait, you are "impressed that someone spoke up and told us how he really feels" yet you are shaming the Jim Henson company for doint the same? Hmmm.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |

      @Francis Vela its really two opposing forces. they are now on divergent paths. one just happens to be a 4billionUSD per year restaurant and the other is a puppeteer/toy/branding company.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      How sanctimonious of the Muppets company to garner publicity on this subject. Its reverse intimidation. I'm impressed that someone spoke up and told us how he really feels.
      There, I fixed it for you. You're impressed by the Henson company standing up for what they believe, right? SURE you are. It's the principle of the thing.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Animal

      "on divergent paths. one just happens to be a 4billionUSD per year restaurant and the other is a puppeteer/toy/branding company"
      The difference is that people have heard of the Muppets. Don't miss our next movie; we're going to have cows in it!

      July 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hugh Jass

    When I was a kid, someone working at a local restaurant was found to have TB. Did she cough in our burgers? We never went back; the place was closed in a week. It reopened and no one would eat there. Were we violating their freedom of speech or their freedom of religion when we were afraid to eat there? I can't decide which, but obviously we should have been forced to eat there anyway, right?

    July 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chuckster

    I've decided to embrace Obama's philosophy of redistribution of wealth. I will now take some of the money I might have spent at Obama supporter Warren Buffet's Nebraska Furniture Mart and instead spend it at Chick-fil-A. I never liked the Muppets anyway.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
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