Decatur resident Julie Romano stood in front of the Chick-fil-A on the corner of N. McDonough and Trinity Place in downtown Decatur Aug. 3. She said Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s recent comments opposing same-sex marriage is more than a free speech issue.
“People think this is a free speech issue and they’re misunderstanding it,” Romano said. Recently, in an interview published in Biblical Reporter magazine as well as in a radio interview, Cathy voiced his and his company’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
June 16, on the Ken Coleman radio program Cathy said:
“As it relates to society in general, I think we are 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.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”
In an interview published in the Biblical Reporter July 2, Cathy said:
“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. We operate as a family business ... our restaurants are typically led by families—some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that ... We intend to stay the course. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
Those two statements have angered gay rights supporters, rallied conservative Christian groups and caused some to boycott the company and others to show their appreciation of it all the more.
On Aug. 1, the company set a sales record when hundreds of thousands of customers flocked to the restaurants in support of Cathy.
Gay rights activists, like Romano, rallied in similar fashion in front of Chick-fil-A’s all over the country for a “National Kiss-in” day.
Romano said she was in attendance to show support for her community. She held a sign that read, “As Jesus said about gay people,
“ .” The quotes are intentionally left blank.
“I’ve been kind of boycotting this company for the past two years,” Romano said. “They’ve never really hidden the fact that they’re anti-gay but the language he used in which he said that we were an abomination and that we have defective minds…that got really personal. I mean, we’re human beings here and we just want to be treated with respect.”
Romano said she wants to have an open dialogue with the company so that they understand that gay rights are civil rights too. A few feet away stood Mark Toomajian and Jim Fortier, who held hands. Every once in a while they turned to each other and passionately kissed as passersby honked their horns in support of the approximately so activists.
“This is for people to express their feelings and opinions and it’s the same thing as the Civil Rights Movement for African Americans 40 years ago,” Toomajian said. “It’s a human rights issue; it’s not a first amendment issue.”
Chick-fil-A is a franchise business and after Cathy’s comments appeared in the news, the owners of the Decatur Chick-fil-A, John and Cristina Crays, released a statement urging those upset by Cathy’s views to come in and speak to them personally.
“Our passion is building leaders for future generations, regardless of sexual orientation or beliefs,” the statement read.
As the kiss-in drew to a close, employees from the Crays’ Chick-fil-A brought trays of cold ice tea and lemonade and offered them to the protesters standing on the corner.