by: Diana Davis Updated:
ATLANTA - Customers packed Chick-fil-A restaurants across metro Atlanta to support the business in light of the company president’s recent controversial comments.
Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee declared Wednesday Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, urging people to eat at the restaurant. For weeks, the restaurant chain has faced backlash after its president, Dan Cathy, publicly announced his opposition to gay marriage.
But supporters came out in full force from Cobb and Gwinnett to Fulton and DeKalb counties. Channel 2 viewers emailed pictures showing lines wrapped around several restaurants in the metro area.
At the Chick-fil-A off Mount Vernon Road, officers directed traffic outside. A lone protestor carried a gay rights flag and another sign that compared the restaurant chain's stance on gay marriage to “Hitler-style hate.”
In Decatur, supporters told Channel 2’s Diana Davis that Cathy has a right to express his opinion on gay marriage.
“I support Chick-fil-A. I’m a Christian, and I support what they stand for. I also believe in the freedom of speech. If you want to eat there, great. If you don’t, then there are plenty of other places you can go,” Mark Pritchard told Davis.
Some of the chain’s gay customers told Davis they may not like Chick fil-A's opinion but will continue eating there.
“I don’t think they personally affected me. I think it was an opinion of theirs, and they should have the right to express their opinion. I'm not going to stop eating at Chick-fil-A because of the owner’s ignorance,” said Charles Austin.
An Atlanta gay and lesbian magazine disagreed. Tyler Calkins, the publisher of Fenuxe Magazine, said he'll name Chick-fil-A as Atlanta’s worst restaurant in a ceremony this weekend.
“It's more of a politically correct way of saying they don’t like gay people at all. We shouldn’t be taking a moral stance from a chicken sandwich company,” said Calkins.
Chik-fil-A issued a written statement saying, “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was not created by Chick-fil-A. We appreciate all our customers and are glad to serve them all at any time.”
Outside a Cobb County Chick-fil-A, a representative from a conservative Christian group told Davis she supports the biblical definition of marriage and family and Cathy.
“We believe he should be able to express that without other groups coming in and trying to, you know, hurt his business,” said Rebecca Davis of the Constitution Party of Georgia.
Opponents of Chick-fil-A's stance are encouraging the gay and lesbian community to come out Friday and stage a public Kiss-in at restaurants nationwide.
Students petition to have Chick-Fil-A removed from college campuses
Local universities are dealing with reaction from students who want Chick-fil-A off campus because of the gay marriage remarks made by the company's president.
Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri talked with students at Kennesaw State
University, where there are two petitions online.
One petition is demanding the university remove
Chick-fil-A from the student center and another one urging officials to keep the restaurant on campus.
"I think that Chick-fil-A has the right to whatever opinion they want. Nobody should be surprised that they think that. They're closed on Sundays," student Brittnie Card told Viteri.
Card is a junior at Kennesaw State. She doesn't have a problem with statements
Chick-fil-A's president Dan Cathy made opposing gay marriage.
Other students are demanding the school remove the restaurant from the Carmichael Student Center.
Wednesday evening close to 300 students had signed an online petition saying keeping
Chick-fil-A on campus violates the university's mission statement to foster "global and multicultural perspectives."
Around 200 signed an opposing petition in support of the chain.
"I would definitely be for keeping
Chick-fil-A on campus. I agree with Chick-fil-A's position, personally," Card said.
Supporters claim management's personal beliefs haven't led to discrimination against customers.
"I bet there are people who do believe in gay marriage or even are gay, and I bet you they're still eating at
Chick-fil-A," Card said.
Students at Emory University also called for officials to remove the restaurant.
The university sent Channel 2 Action News a statement saying Cathy's statements don't reflect Emory's values but the university also values freedom of expression.
"Emory therefore respects the right of people to express their disagreement with Mr. Cathy by not patronizing Chick-fil-A," the statement said.
Based on their statement, Emory University has no plans to make changes with regard to
Chick-fil-A's campus location.
A representative from Kennesaw State would only say that they are aware of these petitions.