Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day gets tea party support in Northridge
A local tea party group flocked to a Northridge Chick-fil-A Wednesday morning as part of "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," a nationwide effort to show support for the fast-food chain recently criticized over its chief executive's comments on gay marriage.
More than a dozen people stood outside the Northridge Chick-fil-A on Wednesday morning, waving American flags and holding signs that read, "Free to speak, to build, to boycott." The event was organized by the San Fernando Valley Patriots, a local arm of the tea party.
"That man — just like you or I — has a right to say, 'This is what I believe' and not be punished for it," Karen Kenney, of the San Fernando Valley Patriots, told KTLA.
The Northridge restaurant declined to comment, and referred questions to the company's corporate office.
Kenney was referencing comments made by Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathy in a recent interview with the Baptist Press, where the chief executive said that although he doesn't consider Chick-fil-A a "Christian business," he does operate on "biblical principles."
That means, he said, that Cathy — and his company — oppose gay marriage. "Guilty as charged," he said.
"We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit," Cathy continued. "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."
The comments sparked criticism nationwide — including a demonstration at a Laguna Hills Chick-fil-A — as many pledged to boycott the restaurant chain. In response, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared Wednesday "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," calling on people to eat at the Christian-run restaurant to show support.
Last week, the owner of the Chick-fil-A on Sunset Boulevard circulated a letter on the restaurant's Facebook page stating his plans to run his business apolitically. Jeremiah Cillpam's restaurant straddles two of the area's largest LGBT populations in Hollywood and West Hollywood.
"We strive to ensure that every guest receives amazing food and service regardless of belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender," Cillpam wrote.
According to KTLA, supporters of gay marriage planned to go to the Hollywood restaurant Wednesday afternoon. A woman who answered the phone that morning said so far, things were "business as usual."
— Kate Mather