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. Dana

    This is the power of the free market, conservatives. You can stand for your principles, but if you brand your company with it, and it loses business, then that is the consequence.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • hypatia

      You got that one right! And if he's 'guilty as charged' then it is his own choice to limit his business to Xian hate.

      July 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • TiredODaCrap

      What business has he lost??? I have never driven past a Chick-fil-A when there was not a line running around the entire story for the drive-in and the entire place was full!! The postiion of 2%-3% of the population is not going to affect his bottom line.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. whenthisplanelands

    CNN might want to do some research before publishing such an article... The Jim Henson Company does not own the Muppets and hasn't for many, many years. Disney owns The Muppets. Don't get me wrong- I agree with the decision of the Henson company, but they aren't the muppets.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Electric Mayhem

      As stated before, Disney owns the Muppets, but the Henson family
      has final approval of all muppet products.
      Disney pays the bills, and they split the profits.
      Its called "business".

      July 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ksb

    "I find it funny that those in favor of gay marriage attack those that espouse views that may be different from theirs. I don't have much of a dog in that particular fight, but I do find it ironic that those espousing diversity certainly do not seem to tolerate a diversity of opinion."

    The difference, is that those who are against gay marriage want the government to ENFORCE their view on others, whereas those on the other side want the government to NOT enforce on them the view of their opposition. The two positions are not even remotely analogous. If the law treated both sides equally, then difference of opinion would only pertain to opinion.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • TiredODaCrap

      Talk about a fallacy in reasoning....

      NO, gays want to FORCE everyone else to change laws to support THEIR views. How else do you explain the number of times that these laws have been voted down by the citizens (including in the over-liberal state of California)? The potisions are exactly analagous, whether you want to believe it or not.

      July 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. joe

    Sad sad world we live in. I'll be there August 1 and have now become a regular customer.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • lee

      I'll be there, too.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • brtbrkr

      Good for you! I think you should eat fast food 3 times a day. It's good for you!

      July 25, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. JD

    "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."

    Too late.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. k

    It's still a free country, right? This company has the right to experss it's support for the traditional family unit the same as anyone else has to support gay families. Why is it ok for JC Penny to say they support gay families but it's not ok for Chic to say they support traditional families? They are not doing anything wrong.

    I will continue to eat at Chic Fil A, maybe more so now.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aerosgrl

      Good Point.... but they got the pitch forks out already....

      I too will continue to Eat C-F-A but I will not do so on Aug. 1st... I am not going to be paw in this game

      July 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      They have the right, just as long as they are discriminating on service. However freedom of speech doesn't mean you can say anything you want without consequences for your action. It just means you won't get arrested by the government, for saying such things. It doesn't mean you won't be hated by the general population.

      They are not demanding the CEO arrest, or anything like that, however his comments make it clear the corporate culture of the company may make it more difficult for alternative families, to shop there, as you are just entering an unwelcome atmosphere.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean

      There are christians who are boycotting Penney's for that stance. This is perfectly valid on both sides.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Electric Mayhem

      Good for you.
      Now go choke on your chicken.

      July 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Aerosgrl

    Everyone wants to come here for freedom, of rights, speech, & religion. Christians are supposed to be tolerate of others, but yet others shouldn’t be tolerant of Christian beliefs??
    Hey America, we are all not the same, we should all be tolerant of each others beliefs and learn to co-exist.

    I support Gay Marriage & I also support Chick-fil-a CEO right to believe & do with his money as he see's fit.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      Tolerance of Christian beliefs ends when Christians legislate the bible.

      Think gay marriage is an abonimation? That's your right to believe and I support it.
      Want to deny marriage benefits to gays based purely on your opinion? No thanks.

      July 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Edward

    I'm confused. Does Chick-Fil-A demand to know if customers are straight or gay before they will serve them. or do they serve anyone who comes in and can pay for a meal? If they serve anyone, then they don't discriminate.

    What they do with their profits is their business. A lot of companies donate to charities. If Chick-Fil-A donates to a charity that opposes gay marriage, that is their free choice. If one doesn't like it, one can eat somewhere else, but you'll have to check where their profits are going as well. And then you'll have to check all companies!

    People on both sides of the gay marriage issue are showing intolerance of the others.

    No news there.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • acantavit


      July 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      Replace gay with African-American and re-read your post. It makes the point extremely clear.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jenni

    This is news? you have got to be kidding me?

    July 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Yvonne

    Easy......Those of us who support Chick-fil-A will just NOT DO BUSINESS with THE MUPPETS! Consideriong their liberal and un-Godly view on things, they shouldn't be represented as a model for children!!!!! Same goes for the CITY OF BOSTON!! I will protest both in every way I can. The Christian community has more $$ than and other group in the United States! Those speaking against Chick-fil-A better be careful themselves, for their own loss of profits and business/commerce!

    July 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kermit The Frog

      Yvonne that is your right.
      Having said that.....
      Kiss my little green............

      July 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jenni

    This is news? you have got to be kidding me!!

    July 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • TiredODaCrap

      When has CNN.com ever posted anything that WAS news??

      July 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kirk

    I wonder if the Chick-fil-A protesters will also stop buying at Wal-Mart, In N Out and the rest of the stores founded on Christian principles. I feel discriminated by Boston's Mayor due to my christian belief. Why doesn't anyone step up for those of us who feel offended and discriminated due to our creed? Are gays and lesbians the only people who deserve civil rights????

    July 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kermit The Frog

      Right now they are the only group being denied them.
      All frogs are created equal.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. howcome

    how come when topics about standing for their faith like this come up, it is always being equated to hate or arrogance? if in my house, where my small kids are not allowed to play games with violence, then a neighbor comes with a shooting game, will it be a show of hatred or arrogance if i tell that kid that that game is not allowed? of course i will let the kid in and have him play with the games i have in my house, but there won't be hatred. i have rules/values which i won't bend because others are different in their views.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Miguel Caron

    It's a sad day when puppets are more politically correct than people.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • TiredODaCrap

      Even more sad when people shove political correctness down others' throats claiming that it is right!

      July 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      "Even more sad when people shove their religion down others' throats claiming that it is right!"

      Fixed that for you.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • TiredODaCrap

      No Zeke, I was right the first time. If political correctness equates hate with Christianity because they don't agree with what you believe, then there is nothing right about it. No where in his comment did Cathy say anything against (or hateful) to gays. He said he believes a certain way. If he has to be politically correct (aka Bow Down to Peer Pressure) to get your business, I am sure that he'll be just fine without your business!

      July 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      "No where in his comment did Cathy say anything against (or hateful) to gays."

      Except the part where he believed that only the bible defines marriage, and only a married family is a valid one – which of course means that a family founded by a gay couple is not valid/human/worthy of recognition.

      When you relegate someone to second-class status, that is being AGAINST them. If he said "I believe that white people are the chosen race of God," would you support that as well? Would you really think that he had no issue with blacks then?

      Has Chick-Fil-A started serving Koolaid?

      July 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kermit The Frog

      We Muppets love everybody.
      There is no room for intollerance on this lily pad.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jolly Rancher

    God will Bless them for standing their grounds on their beliefs. People can boycott them all they want. God will provide. It's funny how all these groups out there can have their own opinion and be such negative people and have all the support grom the government behind them to voice their opinion, yet when Christians try to stand their grounds on their beliefs we become targets.

    July 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texan

      Yep, a big bulls eye on our bibles. I wish everyone would just agree to disagree.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suff

      God wont provide, fat people will, im going to bet that if god was hungry he wouldnt go to Chick-Fil-A.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Dalloway

      The reason why this belief is ridiculous is that it's not who you are but what you do that makes you a good person. Pure bigotry "in the guise of religion.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • InfinteTruth

      Don't make yourself to be the martyr. Live and let live is what should be preached. Christ turned the other cheek but todays christians make no such attempt

      July 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tolerate others

      Standing up for what you believe in is great, but when your beliefs involve discrimination and denying other people rights you will have to deal with people not liking it.
      You are free to think whatever you want about others, however you are not free to deprive them of the same rights you enjoy.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • ofCanada

      Yep, a big bulls eye on our bibles. I wish everyone would just agree to disagree.


      If only it were used as a book of worship instead of a weapon. Christians need to be in the world, but not of the world. They need to hold to their faith without interfering in the different faiths (or lack thereof) of others. The absolute BEST way to "save a sinner" (i.e. convert somebody to your own belief) is to show them that it is a wonderful to be in this group, not by words or actions intended to make people external to it have a harder life.

      BTW: I happen to think that this restaurant has every right to be a Christian business, and its executives and staff hold to the tenets of their sect.
      I also believe that others have every right not to eat at the restaurant, and other companies have a right not to have their brands associated with them if THOSE companies are not of the same belief.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not a Scholar

      Yup, they stand their ground. The do not believe in gay marriage, yet they will gladly take money from the gays. Can't work here, but you can eat here. HAHAHA I wonder if Bert and Ernie were part of the toys they put in with the food. I have always loved the Muppets. I love them more now than ever before.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • JATL

      The difference is that there are no pro-gay establishments that are donating millions of dollars to organizations that are deliberately anti-christian. Don't be surprised when you thrust your dogma out into the population, you get backlash. Galacians 6: You reap what you sow.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kermit The Frog

      Stop using religion to pass laws against other people.
      50 years ago my relation with Miss Piggy would have been frowned apon.
      Join the family.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
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