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Chick-fil-A supporters send message, eat chicken (+video)

Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country were packed with supporters Wednesday for 'Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.' In the wake of CEO Dan Cathy's views against gay marriage, and the subsequent boycott from gay-rights advocates, eating a Chick-fil-A sandwich has become a polarizing political statement.

By Schuyler VelascoCorrespondent / August 1, 2012

Customers stand in a long line at the Chick-fil-A in Columbus, Ga., Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. Chick-fil-A supporters are eating at restaurants in the chicken chain as the company continues to be criticized for an executive's comments about gay marriage.

Mike Haskey/The Ledger-Enqirer/AP

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Around 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jesse Velasco, a Jacksonville Beach, Fla. resident, pulled into a Chick-fil-A restaurant to grab lunch. He had no idea it was “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” 

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Supporters of Chick-fil-A flocked to restaurants in the chicken chain on Wednesday as the company continues to be criticized for an executive's voiced his support for "the biblical definition of a family."

“When I got there, I noticed that the end of the drive-thru line was ridiculously far away from the restaurant,” he says. “There must have been 40 or 50 cars going through the driveway line and past the Arby’s next to it. I felt bad for the Arby’s,” he laughs.

Deciding it would be easier if he went inside, Mr. Velasco (who is also my younger brother) circled for five minutes to find a parking space, then faced the back of a line that snaked at least 10 people out the door. Then he remembered seeing on Facebook that there was “something going on with Chick-fil-A today."

“Chick-fil-A is a madhouse right now," he wrote later on Facebook.

Similar scenes played themselves out at Chick-fil-A locations around the country Wednesday, as throngs of people turned out to support the chicken franchise as part of Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” The Aug. 1 event was organized by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister and Fox News TV host, in response to a boycott of Chick-fil-A by supporters of gay marriage.

In the past several weeks, the fast-food chain found mostly in the Southeast has found itself in the middle of a national firestorm in the wake of CEO Dan Cathy’s controversial comments against gay marriage. Last month, Mr. Cathy appeared on Ken Coleman’s radio show and said “We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.”

Cathy later defended his comments to the Baptist Press newspaper, saying he was “guilty as charged” of defending traditional marriage values.

In addition to Cathy’s comments, boycotters have taken issue with Chick-fil-A’s charitable contributions to groups that oppose gay rights (including mostly religious organizations like Focus on the Family and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes).

The Aug. 1 appreciation day was an attempt to counter those actions with a demonstration of support.

“Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we're considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant,” Mr. Huckabee wrote in a statement on his website. “There's no need for anyone to be angry or engage in a verbal battle. Simply affirm appreciation for a company run by Christian principles by showing up or participating online.”

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