Gay rights protesters responded to Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day with Same Sex Kiss Day two days later. According to NY Daily News, organizers encouraged supporters of gay rights to stage a “kiss in” on Friday.
People smooched their loved ones at Chick-fil-A outlets and snapped photos for social media sites, such as Tumblr and Facebook.
“Basically what you’re going to get is a bunch of pretty normal, average, everyday people that just happen to be gay or lesbian give each other a kiss or a hug, hold each other’s hand, and really show them that we stand up for what we believe,” said Marci Alt, who is organizing a protest outside the Chick-fil-A in Decatur, Ga., about 20 miles from the company’s Atlanta headquarters.
The Huff Post writes that Same Sex Kiss Day is a reaction to comments last month from Dan Cathy, who said he supported “the biblical definition of the family unit” and put his chain of roughly 1,600 restaurants smack in the middle of a cultural debate.
Carl McGehee, a Dallas-based political activist, thought up the kiss-in.
“I hope the visibility of the kiss-in helps LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] youth who feel isolated and are victims of bullying,” McGehee said.
“I want LGBT youth who are growing up in places like Texas, where I was raised, to know that it’s okay to be who you are, because it seems that [Chick-fil-A president Dan] Cathy disagrees with that.”
Gay marriage supporters were putting a romantic spin on traditional sit-ins, organizing “kiss-ins” outside of Chick-fil-A restaurants from Dallas to New York City to celebrate National Same-Sex Kiss Day.
More than 20 protesters gathered at one of the fast-food restaurants in Decatur, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb, where Mark Toomajian kissed his partner, Jim Fortier, 58, for the cameras.
“It’s a human rights issue, it’s not a First Amendment issue,” said Toomajian, 41, as protesters held signs playing off Chick-fil-A’s advertising campaign. “Eat More Justice,” read one sign.
Fox News host Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, created a Facebook event in support. He wrote that Chick fil-A is “a great American story that is being smeared by vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry from the left.”
What is more, Wendy’s stepped into the argument when Jim Furman, a Wendy’s franchise owner in North Carolina, posted the message “We stand with Chick-fil-A” outside several of his fast-food establishments. Wendy’s responded via Twitter: “An independent franchisee posted the sign, which he’s taken down. We proudly serve ALL customers!”
Friday’s demonstrations were largely peaceful, although one restaurant in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance was sprayed overnight with graffiti that read: “Tastes Like Hate,” with a picture of a cow next to it.
Phyllis Harris, executive director of the LGBT Center in Cleveland, said the controversy does have an upside for her organization’s goals.
“It is allowing people to have their say. It keeps the issue in the public view and you can see folks standing up for marriage equality,” she said.
However, an anti-kiss-in protester, Leroy Swailes, 61, of Oxon Hill, Maryland, said he had seen two same-sex couples – one male, one female – bussing inside the restaurant earlier.
“I’m a specialist. I’ve been doing this since the ’60s, protesting homosexuals,” said Swailes, who was dressed in clerical garb with a T-shirt over it with lettering that said “The Resurrection of Sodom and Gomorrah.”