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. DP

    I think we should riot and break as much glass as possible. Then we blame it all on Chick-Fil-A. That seems a proportional response to a guy stating his belief.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike k.

      For a CNN comment, that's downright reasonable.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lean6

      You DO know what "DP" is commonly known as on the Internet...don't you? Whether you're pitching or catching, there are two bats in the box.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michael Mellars

    1st August noted and will make a point to go to a Chick-Fil-A and show my support. It is not a crime to have an opinion, that's the freedom we have in this great country. I will not be dictated to by any group, I will make my own choices.

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

      I will be there too. It's a very sad comment on our nation that perverts now determine what is correct.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lean6

      Sounds like a good time and place to stage some charities out in front of Chick-fil-A's. With so much love flowing inside, some of it's gotta flow outside too.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • OpenUReyes

      ... Then you can do whatever the American Christian Taliban ask you to do, no matter how wrong it is, and how many innocent people are endangered...

      July 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wing Nuts Can't Stand The Truth

      "1st August noted and will make a point to go to a Chick-Fil-A and show my support. It is not a crime to have an opinion, that's the freedom we have in this great country. I will not be dictated to by any group, I will make my own choices." – Michael Mellars

      SO you are going to do what group told you to do on 8/1. Great way not to be "dictated to by any group".

      July 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Browardcountyboy

      And I as well will not be dictated to, and I will NOT patronize an establishment that helps fund opinions and activities I disagree with. Nobody is stopping you from having your opinion on this matter or from patronizing this establishment, but I suspect that what really bothers you is that your opinions have been criticized. Get used to it, my opinions have been criticized all of my life.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rainbow Rising

      So will we.

      July 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. m

    Wow.... way to discriminate against a company who's leaders have based their leadership on their traditional religious values. A company where employees are treated equally regardless of their religious or political views. A company who's employees treat all customers with respect and a smile. I'm sure glad we're in America where you aren't allowed to have your own opinion for fear of what will happen to you...

    July 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jonescincy

    I always knew Fozzie was gay, this confirms it.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lean6

      Like Bert & Ernie sleeping together wasn't already a clue....

      July 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric the actor

      Waka waka Frisco!

      July 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lean6

    Sorry, I'm not trying to make a political or religious statement just by pulling up to a drive-thru menu. That's essentially what these people are doing now...drawing a line in the sand...over chicken! The church is supposedly already that threshold of sinner and saint. It's ok for you to assume my beliefs if you see me walk into a church...i'll GIVE you that. My soul's gotta be judged by where I eat too now?!

    July 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike k.

      That's right. Toe the line or go hungry.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Laurie in Spokane

    There isn't a Chick Fil A in my area, but if there WERE, I certainly would NOT be one of their customers. Such sanctimonious, self-righteous nonsense out of the mouth of their CEO. Such bigotry. Makes me queasy, really.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • davidmmorton

      And "We celebrate diversity and inclusiveness so we're going to stop including someone who disagrees with us" isn't arrogant and self-righteous?

      July 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • SlackMeyer

      His comments make you "queasy"? Sheesh, get a backbone!

      And to all of you "tolerant" liberals and gay folks out there: Don't ever, EVER, use the words "tolerant" or "open-minded" ever again.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    Dear CNN,

    The Jim Henson Company has not owned the "Muppets" since they sold them to Disney in 2004. Please check your facts. Credibility matters. Thank you.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. calvin

    Both Jolly Rancher & Robert are correct. Granted i believe just like Jolly Rancher, but God gives us a choice to choose. He does not force himself on anyone. it is Chik-Fil-a to stand for what they believe in. God Bless Them

    July 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • OpenUReyes

      The evil ones at Chick-fil-A have spoken, let intolerance, bigotry, and hate fill their hearts, and while they claim to be true Christian's, they're really not and should join the bulk of the Southern Evangelists to spread their evil ways amongst their ignorant sheep.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cathryn

    so sad...I guess I will be saying good-bye to the Muppets.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wing Nuts Can't Stand The Truth

      There there calm down it will be ok. Here drink this nice glass of
      K onservative
      K hristian
      K ool-Aid
      There now you're all better that's a good sheeple.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sebastian

    This is not about equal rights anymore, its about forcing people to believe what you want them to believe. If they stand strong in their belief regardless of the fact they still love and care about all people regardless of thsoe peoples beliefs you are bullying them and saying theyre hateful. The whole equality thing is lost behind a sutble witchhunt of "with me or against me."

    July 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amica

      well said.

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

      I totally agree!!!!

      July 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andrew

    Well, people can do what they choose to do. I agree with Chick-Fil-A's stance and it is a biblical stance. But I certainly respect the right of those who disagree to disagree. Not sure what this has to to do with food....? But hey, eat where you want and don't eat where you don't want.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tim

    Hey, I don't agree with Cathy's beliefs and it is Henson's decision to sever their relationship. That said, it will not make an impact on me deciding to go to Chik-fil-a or not.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gerry Dantone

    A religious excuse does not justify bigotry; it just means that bigotry is part of the religion. We should want to limit the rights of others ONLY if they are harming others; not because they offend someone's god. Religious freedom requires that we are free from the dictates of religions we do not believe in. Ethics and good government requires that we make the lives of others who hurt no one BETTER, not worse.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. EatMor Beef

    I am now a former ChicFilA customer. I will never set foot in a restaurant again due to Cathy's statement. Good product + bad politics = bad business. Congrats to the Henson Co. for making the right move. Chic Fil A SUCKS. I would be afraid to eat at Chic Fil A on August 1st ... Karma just might sour your food.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • w247

      So you are advocating that Cathy should have caved in and compromised his beliefs just to make other people happy?

      July 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    He is free to state his beliefs, as am I.
    I am free to eat wherever I choose.
    I believe I will not eat at Chick-Fil-A.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
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