In the July 16 interview, BP writer K. Allan Blume asked Cathy, who is the son of company founder S. Truett Cathy, about his company's contributions to established anti-gay organizations, and his response was, "Well, guilty as charged."
Reaction from LGBTQ rights groups was swift denounncing Cathy's remarks followed by denouncements from political leaders including Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino, who vowed to block the fast food chain from opening a franchise in his city. In a letter dated July 20 sent to the fast food chain's CEO and posted on the city's Facebook page, the Mayor wrote:
[...] "In recent days you said Chick-fil-A opposes same-sex marriage and said the generation that supports it has an 'arrogant attitude.'
Now -- incredibly -- your company says you are backing out of the same-sex marriage debate. I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston.
You called supporters of gay marriage 'prideful.' Here in Boston, to borrow your own words, we are 'guilty as charged.' We are indeed full of pride for our support of same-sex marriage and our work to expand freedom to all people. We are proud that our state and our city have led the way for the country on equal marriage rights...
There is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it."
A Chicago alderman added his voice to the rising chorus of disapproval Tuesday. The Chicago Tribune reports that Proco "Joe" Moreno announced that he will block Chick-fil-A's effort to build its second Chicago store, which would be in the Logan Square neighborhood, following company President Dan Cathy's remarks.
"If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don't want you in the 1st Ward," Moreno told the Tribune on Tuesday. Moreno stated his position in strong terms, referring to Cathy's "bigoted, homophobic comments" in a proposed opinion page piece that an aide also sent to Tribune reporters. "Because of this man's ignorance, I will now be denying Chick-fil-A's permit to open a restaurant in the 1st Ward."
Chicago's Rahm Emmanuel has indicated privately that he may support the Alderman's announcement as last week the mayor was quoted as saying, "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values."
Politicians weren't exclusively the only voices of dissent as The Jim Henson Company, the entertainment organization that traces its origins to the founding of The Muppets in 1958 by puppeteer Jim Henson, ended its affiliation with Chick-fil-A over the restaurant chain’s anti-gay sentiments.
In an announcement posted on their Facebook page Friday, the company said it would donate its latest residual check from the chicken chain to GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation:
“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD.”
The Henson company’s partnership with Chick-fil-A included selling its Creature Shop toys for the restaurant chain’s kids meals.
The latter announcement by the Henson company was countered by the chicken chain in its announcement that it was pulling the toys as a result of an unspecified 'public safety' issues. On their Facebook page, the company said:
"Chick-fil-A is initiating a voluntary withdrawal for our Jim Henson Creature Shop Puppet Kid's Meal Premiums due to a product issue. In lieu of the kid's meal premium we will offer a Kid's Icedream. We plan to have replacement kid's meal premiums within 2 weeks. Thank you and we apologize for any inconvenience."
The controversy has sparked a renewed ugly campaign in the war over same-sex marriage and LGBTQ equality rights with christian groups mounting support for the company and attacking LGBT advocacy groups.
AFA radio host Bryan Fischer claimed that “the bullies at ‘Big Gay,’” the term he is now using to describe LGBTQ equality rights advocates, are “trying to go Ahmadinejad on Chick-fil-A, they want them wiped off the face of the map.”
"And they’re trying to present themselves as these innocent little victims, helpless and hapless, being picked on across the fruited plain. And they’re not. They are bullies. They are intolerant, they are vicious, they are mean, and they are after people of faith. There’s no ‘live and let live’ with the bullies at Big Gay. They don’t know anything about tolerance.
Tolerance is not in their vocabulary. They have no tolerance for those who support the institution of the natural family. None, zip, zero. They have no room in their so-called ‘diversity world’ for people who believe in natural marriage. They claim to be all about diversity, but there is no room in their world for anybody that believes in traditional moral values. They’re absolutely intolerant and they have no room, they’re anti-diversity.
So I’m talking about this with regard specifically to Chick-fil-A. And I am pointing out specifically that the bullies at Big Gay are coming after Chick-fil-A. They’re trying to take them out, they’re trying to obliterate them, they’re trying to go Ahmadinejad on Chick-fil-A, they want them wiped off the face of the map.
Let’s make it our goal to buy out every chicken sandwich that Chick-fil-A makes on August 1.
Let’s have them run out of chickens, let’s send them out behind the restaurant with an ax to cut the heads off of more chickens to feed people because they’re selling so many chicken sandwiches.
The president of the national organisation for marriage, (NOM) Brian Brown angrily attacked Boston's mayor writing on the NOM blogsite;
"'You don't belong here.' That's what Boston's mayor, Thomas Menino, has told Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A: 'You don't belong in Boston.' The mayor's reasoning? Because Boston is 'an open city… a city that's at the forefront of inclusion.' The hypocrisy is ludicrous. Menino, of course, is an outspoken promoter of same-sex marriage, just another out-of-touch politician ignorant of the fact that the American people have consistently rejected same-sex marriage at the ballot box.
"Luckily for Mr. Menino, the people of Massachusetts haven't been allowed to vote on marriage; but they will be allowed to vote on him—and if he isn't nervous, he probably should be. What kind of mayor denies a large and flourishing company from settling in his city, just because that company's president disagrees with the mayor's own radical same-sex marriage agenda? A mayor who cares neither for his constituents or the Constitution!"
Other anti-gay persons including former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum and former GOP Arkansas Governor and Fox news pundit Mike Huckabee have been outspoken in their support for Cathy and the franchise. Huckabee even encouraged people to patronize the fast food chain on Aug. 1, which he deemed "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day."
LGBT advocacy group Equality Illinois on Tuesday kicked off a multi-faceted “Flick-the-Hate” campaign aimed at Illinois communities where Chick-fil-A has franchises, a response to the fast-food chain’s millions of dollars in donations to anti-LGBT organizations.