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Gay marriage supporters protest opening of Laguna Hills Chick-fil-A

Chikfila

This post has been corrected, as noted below.

The opening of a Chick-fil-A outlet in Laguna Hills attracted more than new customers early Thursday morning as protesters picketed outside over the restaurant chain chief executive's opposition to gay marriage.

About 35 protesters arrived at the new restaurant on El Toro Road near the 5 Freeway to sound off against statements made by CEO Dan Cathy.

In a recent interview with Baptist Press, Cathy said that although he doesn't consider Chick-fil-A a "Christian business," he does operate on "biblical principles."

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

One protester touted his own Christian values in support of gay rights.

"We’ll get there in time. We pray. Yes, we do pray," said Jonathan Jensen, 25, of Irvine.

But not everyone agreed with the demonstration. David Kincer drove from Lake Elsinore to protest against the protest.

"They bash traditional family with their lies," said 69-year-old Kincer.

Laura Cantor, an organizer of the event and director of youth service at the Center in Orange County, a LGBT community center, said that if the group persuaded one person to avoid Chick-fil-A the event would be a success.

“I’m also married to my first wife," said Cantor. "I have a family too. That’s why we're here. We want to be treated with the same dignity and respect.”

Later in the day, protesters managed to turn one person away -- but only after they offered to pay the potential patron $20.

“We certainly respect everyone’s right to express opinions, and we appreciate it’s been done in a respectful manner, so we can celebrate our opening and welcome our guests,” said Cindy Chapman, a Chick-fil-A spokeswoman.

[Corrected at 2 p.m. July 26: An earlier version of this post misspelled the name of Chick-fil-A as Chik-fil-A.]

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-- Joanna Clay in Laguna Hills and Melissa Leu in Los Angeles

Follow Melissa Leu on Twitter and Google+.

Photo: Demonstrators wave rainbow flags and hold signs to protest the opening of a Chik-fil-A restaurant in Laguna Hills. Credit: Don Leach / Times Community News

 
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