'Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day' draws thousands of supporters

Thousands of people flocked to Chick-fil-A restaurants all over the U.S. on August 1, not just to get a chicken sandwich but to support the restaurant's CEO's support of traditional marriage.

"Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," as organizer, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called it, may have been more successful than even he envisioned. More than 650,000 people had signed up on Facebook to participate, and it seemed that each one came — and brought a friend.

Heading into the day, Huckabee said the event was not about gay marriage — as some had made it to be — but about free speech and religious liberty. A business owner, he said, should be able to state basic Christian beliefs without being castigated.

"We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit," Cathy said. "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."

A media storm ensued over Cathy's comments, with some gay groups calling for a boycott of the company. The Human Rights Campaign — the nation's largest gay group — began labeling the restaurant "Chick-fil-Hate." The mayors of Chicago and Boston implied they would block construction of new restaurants, although they eventually backed down. One Chicago alderman called Cathy's remarks "bigoted" and "homophobic."

Huckabee said he launched Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day to stand up for a company that seemed to be held up to a different set of standards by society. Companies often support gay marriage, Huckabee noted, and little attention is given by the media or by the activist groups. Cathy, Huckabee said, simply affirmed what many Christians believe.

Chick-fil-A's supporters and foes have taken to social media to express their opinions.

Christy Parker wrote on Christian Examiners' Facebook page. "So thankful that this CEO is outspokenly & courageously standing for the authentic definition of Marriage."

Sarah Palin showed her support August 1 by posting a photo of her and her husband holding bags of Chick-fil-A on her Facebook page.

Palin also appeared on a Fox News interview with Greta Van Susteren saying that calling for a boycott against Chick-fil-A has a chilling effect on First Amendment rights.

"The owner of the Chick-fil-A business had merely voiced his personal opinion about supporting traditional definition of marriage, one boy, one girl, falling in love, getting married.

"And having voiced support for kind of that cornerstone of all civilization and all religions since the beginning of time, he then basically [is] getting crucified," said Palin.

Rick Santorum tweeted to his supporters to join him and "other freedom loving Americans today at Chick-fil-A."

Nancy Pelosi, showing her distain this week tweeted her chicken position, "I prefer Kentucky Fried Chicken."


—BP news was used in this report