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Chick-fil-A support, protests are planned in Oklahoma City area

Chick-fil-A founder's statements on biblical definition of marriage are at the center of debate that could play out Wednesday at the chain's stores in Oklahoma and elsewhere.
by Carla Hinton Modified: August 2, 2012 at 11:01 am •  Published: July 31, 2012

Meanwhile, Hamilton said he is aware that some people are saying that Cathy's First Amendment right to free speech is being squashed. He said he respects everyone's right to say what they want to say, but he said there is more to the Chick-fil-A brouhaha than that.

“The problem is that it's not just what he has said, but what he has done,” Hamilton said Tuesday. “He's taken millions of the company's earnings and profits and given them to anti-gay organizations.”

Hamilton said he takes exception in particular to Cathy's support of the Christian group Focus on the Family and Exodus.

“Perhaps it's well-intentioned, but the bottom line is these actions are harmful,” he said.

Hamilton also said it should be noted there are many definitions of marriage in the Bible including multiple wives and concubines. Hamilton said the controversy has brought awareness to issues surrounding Cathy's statement, and that is good.

“It's unfortunate that this has become a divisive issue, but hopefully it will raise awareness. There are many businesses in Oklahoma that advocate for equality for all people.”

Widespread reaction

The Chick-fil-A controversy has erupted into a culture war with voices from the Muppets (the Jim Henson Co.) and mayors of several large cities to Huckabee and renowned evangelist Billy Graham weighing in.

After Cathy's statement, Jim Henson Co. CEO Lisa Henson decided to end her company's relationship with the restaurant chain and donate money it received from Chick-fil-A for Muppet-themed toys to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The mayors of Boston and Chicago have made statements discouraging Chick-fil-A from opening new stores in those areas.

Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, announced on Facebook that he supports the Chick-fil-A founder's right to state his opinion. His “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” on Facebook has more than 500,000 accounts reporting they are going to support Chick-fil-A on Wednesday. Evangelist Graham and his son, fellow evangelist Franklin Graham, released statements of support for Cathy in a July 29 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association article.

“Each generation faces different issues and challenges but our standard must always be measured by God's word. I appreciate the Cathy family's public support for God's definition of marriage,” Billy Graham said.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, meanwhile, has counter-protests linked on its website. The events include a “National Same-Sex Kiss Day” on Friday, which encourages people to kiss a member of the same sex at a local Chick-fil-A. More than 8,000 people have signed up on Facebook.

Company statement

Chick-fil-A released this statement July 19: “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. Going forward our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

Cathy has been a frequent visitor to Oklahoma, including in September 2011, when a new Chick-fil-A opened in the N Pennsylvania Avenue/Memorial Road corridor.