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. PJ

    The BIBLICAL definition? You mean, I Kan Haz FIFTY Wivez?! DAT'Z CHEEZEBURGER!!!! HA! HA! I'll Have my Fil-O-Chick! Ha! Ha! Can I stone stoopidz peepulz??

    July 25, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. Urziel99

    @Open Minded I'm inclined to agree, IF it is just their personal opinion. However, if that is the policy of the business then it's quite a different matter. Then it becomes an issue of discrimination and exclusion, and is generating the ire it rightly deserves.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. skykingjwc

    We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,”
    Seriously? Sure doesn't seem like it, since you are telling folks who don't agree with your position that they are not welcome. Doesn't seem very inclusive to me.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. John McGrath

    Suburban Boston has one one of these weirdly named fast food places.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Grant

    Boston is an open city at the forefront of inclusion... unless you have values. That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard from a politician...LOL!!!

    July 25, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • NonDemInCA

      The bigotry of the liberals never ceases to amaze me. It was succinctly stated by the mayor of Boston – "You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city..." Why didn't he add the logical ending to that statement – "We're an open city who will discriminate against any business of our choosing"?

      July 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      What about the Christian values of unreservedly loving your fellow man, practicing tolerance, leaving judgement to the Lord, turning the other cheek, and forging the trespasses of others? Try reading the Bible – Matthew, Mark, John, and Luke and striving for the Christlike life we are supposed to hold as our ideal. Where is there room for hate, disgust, and exclusion in that life?

      July 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kevin Nivek

    I like the way they quoted Boston Mayor Menino without including all of the mumbling and mispronunciations that typically go along with one of his speeches. That man is an enigma – a complete mushmouth and moron who continues to retain his seat.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dale

    Is it possible for me to enjoy a meal without having to choose sides?

    July 25, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      I could not agree more. Can't I eat there just because they have good chicken and not because I agree with the owner's personal opinions?!

      July 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlotte

      LOL! Not if you're eating what Chick Fil A dishes up (the 'food' I mean). Gross, inedible and unhealthy.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mm

    Selling dead chickens from the pulpit now.
    The food stinks as does the owner.

    July 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. silvercloud41

    Why is it some people aren't allowed to express their opinion without being told by others, who claim the right to their own opinion(s), that one must suffer for their expressed opinion? If I let you believe what you want... why can't I believe what I want without your telling me I'm all full of it? Can't we all just get along?

    July 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      You have the right to hold and express your own opinions. What you do not have is the expectation that anyone will respect them. That's just how free speech goes.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tim Boyer

    People need to quit whining about Mr. Cathy's comments; he has the First Amendment right to share his beliefs.

    Likewise, Americans are free to boycott whomever they desire.

    God Bless America.

    July 25, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rich

    I have no problem with companies being a "Christian" company, it's their right. It's also my right to refuse to buy their products, and I exercise that right entirely. We have Chik-fil-A restaurants here, and I choose to exclude them from my dining options.

    July 25, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlotte

      Yeah, but sensible people would exclude them from dining options based solely on the food – whether they share your values or not!

      July 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ylpo8

    Left to itself–apart from natural procreation–the "LGBT community" would die off in one generation. For that it seems odd, even self-destructive, for them to protest those values which alone have the potential to give it life itself....

    July 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. PJC

    Just get over it, the Chicken is great the company was founded on principles you obviously don't care for so don't go. But complain you must because thats what you do, and millions more will make fun. Grow up and react like this, we understand and respect the statement that Mr. Cathy made and appreciate that his families company was founded on Biblical Principles, we unfortunetley don't prescribe to these principles, and because of that respectfully decline the opportunity to dine at their restaurants.

    July 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. GQ

    In business you never share personal views. His goal, is to sale as much chicken as he can. Leave church/personal views out! The chicken is delicious!!

    July 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tonyb

    ah the american way- everybody in each others shorts minding all business except their own. Chik-fil- A is a privately run company, do want you want as long as you don't break any laws,

    July 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
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