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Mike Huckabee Urges People To Eat Mor' Chick-Fil-A

Chick-fil-A has been in the news lately, not because of its chicken sandwiches but thanks to comments by the fast food company's president opposing same-sex marriage.

Social media helped spread the story and some of the country's mayors urged Chick-fil-A not to come to their cities. This led conservatives, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, to call for the public to support the chain on Wednesday by eating at one of its restaurants.

Dan Cathy didn't realize the stir he would create when he spoke out against same-sex marriage to the Baptist Press and on the Ken Coleman radio show.

"I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about," Cathy said during his interview with Coleman.

Atlanta based Chick-fil-A is a private company founded in 1946, and has never hidden its Christian ties. Its 1,600 restaurants are closed on Sundays and the company president donates to several groups that oppose same sex marriage.

City officials in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco have criticized the comments and vowed to block Chick-fil-A from opening new restaurants in their towns. That drew reaction from Christian conservatives, such as Mike Huckabee who spoke out on behalf of Chick-fil-A.

"You know, if people don't like Chick-fil-A sandwiches, they certainly can decide to eat somewhere else," Huckabee said.

The former Arkansas governor says Chick-fil-A's president has a right to his own personal beliefs.

"This is about a company that sells chicken and not politics, and they shouldn't be out of business because their owner happens to have a point of view that may not be the same as the gay activists," he said.

So Huckabee made a nationwide call — not to protest or picket — but for people to eat at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Roswell, Ga., got a long stream of cars throughout the lunch hour going through the drive-thru, and the parking lot was packed. In fact, it was overflow capacity.

"I love Chick-fil-A," says Bill Peterson, an executive recruiter, who was visiting the restaurant. "I think it's a great organization. They've done a lot for Atlanta and the cities that they're in so I think very highly of the Cathy family and Chick-fil-A."

Mike Abraham says he eats here often and, like Peterson, he backs the Chick-fil-A president.

"This is a free country, you could say whatever you want," he says. "It's wrong to take it against his company so if we believe in the Constitution and freedom of speech, I don't think we have to make a big deal out of his comments."

Chick-fil-A issued a statement saying the appreciation day was noy created by Chick-fil-A, but by its fans. The company says its goal is to have a positive influence on everyone who comes into contact with it.

However, gay rights groups are not backing down. Aaron McQuade with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation says Dan Cathy does have the right to free speech, but comments have consequences.

"If you are going to exercise your free speech and say something that goes against the fabric of the community, the community is going to say something back to you," he says. "And we've seen that in a giant dip in Chick-fil-A's approval numbers and people will vote at the dinner table and people will say 'We don't agree with you.'"

Some gay rights groups are keeping the pressure on: They plan to their hold own "same-sex kiss day" this Friday at Chick-fil-A restaurants.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Whether covering the manhunt and eventual capture of Eric Robert Rudolph in the mountains of North Carolina, the remnants of the Oklahoma City federal building with its twisted metal frame and shattered glass, flood-ravaged Midwestern communities, or the terrorist bombings across the country, including the blast that exploded in Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta, correspondent Kathy Lohr has been at the heart of stories all across the nation.