Crowds lined up halfway down the block Wednesday at Chicago’s only Chick-fil-A restaurant, many there to show their support for the chain’s stance on traditional marriage.
The Water Tower Chick-fil-A at Loyola University Chicago was more crowded than usual, as people showed up in support of the chain’s anti-gay marriage position. However, there also were people who showed up in support of gay marriage.
Dubbed “National Chick-fil-A Day,” by conservative Republican Mike Huckabee, patrons were urged to visit any of the fast food chain’s outlets Wednesday to support the restaurant’s opposition to gay marriage.
These values were first forwarded by Dan Cathy, current president of Chick-fil-A, almost a week ago during an interview with Baptist Press. “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” claimed Cathy, emphasizing the company’s strong Christian belief system.
Several notable government officials, including Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel, spoke out against this standpoint. Chicago Ald. Joe Moreno even went so far as to state his refusal to allow Chick-fil-A to expand within his ward, as a form of protest.
Huckabee urged people across the country to flood out today to show support for the chain, and flood they did. However, if Chicago’s turnout was any indication, not everyone present was supporting one side or the other.
Jim Rosell, 46, of Chicago, was one of many customers who formed a group of free-speech supporters. “I really don’t care what his (Cathy) thoughts on marriage are, but I completely support his ability to share his thoughts,” he said
“Whichever side you stand on, whether you’re for traditional marriage or same-sex, I think that’s fine to hold your belief. At the same time, to run a business…if you don’t like the business or what it stands for, then don’t come here,” said John Adamson, 31, of Chicago’s southern suburbs. “I don’t think we need to be banning or prohibiting things.”
The majority of customers seemed to share these sentiments, the majority supporting the Chicago Chick-fil-A branch to oppose Ald. Moreno. In a statement to the press made last week, Lauren Silich, the owner of the Chicago branch of Chick-fil-A, stated her own opinions on the matter.
“We are not a corporation – we are real people and taxpayers as each Chick-fil-A franchise is independently owned and operated. We are Chicagoans who are dedicated to serving our community,” she said last week. Silich was not available for further comment Wednesday.
Loyola University Chicago students weighed in on the issue, as well. Cady Holmes, a 21-year-old Loyola senior, picked a neutral standpoint.
“I am against them supporting bigotry and won’t be a customer there, but I recognize that he (Cathy) can run his company however he wants to. Everyone has a choice in the matter,” she said.
Members of the religious community were present at Chick-Fil-A as well, though not all to support Cathy’s viewpoints.
“Our founding fathers had Biblical values, and I believe in traditional marriage also, so I’m here to support that,” said Matina Verdusco, 48, of Chicago, one of the few formal protesters.
“I’m here to support Chick-Fil-A because I am a Born-Again Christian, and I want people to know that we do not hate gays,” said Juanita Bailey, 64, of Hyde Park. “I’m here to support what I believe in, support Chick-Fil-A, because they have a right to say their views. If the gay community wants to demand tolerance, they need to show tolerance towards other people’s beliefs. It’s not a hate thing.”