Biting Into the Chick-fil-a Debate

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You’ve been avoiding Chick-fil-A’s tasty chicken creations for years. Now, all of a sudden, even your straight friends know their fast-food fix includes a side of sour politics and some extra-crispy conservatism. How did everyone’s feathers get so ruffled? In case you’ve already forgotten, here’s this past summer’s Chick-fil-A play-by-play.

June 16: Before the chicken and the egg
Dan Cathy, president and COO of Chick- fil-A, appears on the Ken Coleman Show, an Atlanta- based weekly radio show. Cathy has since denied his company is anti-gay, but on the radio show he makes his opinions clear, calling our generation’s attitude “prideful” and “arrogant” for wanting to “redefine what marriage is all about.”

July 2: The proof is in the chicken
LGBT-rights watchdog Equality Matters reports that Chick-fil-A donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay groups in 2010 through The WinShape Foundation. The restaurant’s charity gave more than $1 million to the Marriage & Family Foundation and another half million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

July 2, 7: The cluck heard round the world
First published in the Biblical Recorder online (and later in their print edition), Dan Cathy ignites a media firestorm when he says the company is “guilty as charged” when it comes to supporting “the biblical definition of the family.”

July 16: Spreading around the coop
The Biblical Recorder article was circulated by the Baptist Press, the largest religious newswire in the United States. Suddenly, the story has, um, “wings.”

July 17: The Backlash
Gay-activist bloggers from Good As You and The New Civil Rights Movement blast Cathy’s comments as anti-gay. The Huffington Post reposts excerpts from those blogs, becoming one of the first mainstream outlets to report on Cathy’s remarks.

July 19: The rebuttal
Chick-fil-A’s Facebook status says their beliefs are to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect— regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.” The status adds that the company wants to “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

July 20: …aaand stay out
Boston mayor Thomas Menino pens a letter to Dan Cathy saying he doesn’t want the company in his city. The letter circulates the blogosphere, gaining 153,334 Likes on Facebook and more than 52,000 Shares from the city’s official page. Days later, the mayors of Chicago and San Francisco follow suit, telling Chick-fil-A to keep out.

July 20: The Muppets pull the plug
The Jim Henson Company, creator of the Muppets, cuts ties with the fast-food chain, nixing plans to include “creature shop toys” in Chick-fil-A Happy Meals.

July 26: More dirt surfaces
GLADD publishes a court document from a gender discrimination lawsuit against a Georgia Chick- fil-A manager for wrongful termination of a female employee.

July 27: Pressure cooker
After 29 years of service, Don Perry, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of public relations, dies at 61.

July 30: Meanwhile, in our backyard
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst makes an appearance at an Austin Chick-fil-A in hopes of gaining more votes in his primary runoff against U.S. Senate nominee Ted Cruz. Responding to criticism of the company by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Dewhurst says his fellow politician doesn’t “represent Texas values.”

A photo of Sarah Palin and her husband grabbing dinner at a Chick-fil-A near Houston spreads on Twitter.

A day later, the Texas Tribune posts photos of Chick-fil-A nuggets at Ted Cruz’s victory party following his win in the Texas Republican Senate runoff.

August 1: Record Sales
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee declares August 1 “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” to support a business that “stands for Godly values.” Chick- fil-A restaurants nationwide had wraparound lines and record sales.

August 3: Pecking around the nation
In opposition to “Appreciation Day” and the company, people nationwide pucker up for a same-sex kiss-in at Chick- fil-A restaurants across the country.

August 11: Taking a side
The national Democratic Party’s platform committee endorses same- sex marriage.

October 15: Update
At press time, Chick-fil-A issued a statement saying they would continue to support organizations that “strengthen and enrich marriages.”

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