Chick-fil-A Controversy: Muppets, Huckabee Take Sides
By Dan Gilgoff
(CNN) — 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 puppets, 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 Muppet characters have been served up as toys in Chick-fil-A’s meals for kids.
“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 and 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.