(CNS) – About a dozen people waved signs and American flags outside a Northridge Chick-fil-A eatery today as part of a national effort to support the chain that came under fire when its chief executive spoke out against same-sex marriage. But a rally opposing the company brought protesters to its Hollywood location.
The comments by Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy sparked some calls for boycotts of the restaurant and even some talk of banning the chain from opening franchises in some cities.
In Laguna Beach last week, nearly three dozen people attended the grand opening of a Chick-fil-A location, many carrying signs with messages such as “Eat Mor Equality” and “Will God Judge Me for Loving of Judge You for Hating?”
But protesters in Northridge today said they support Cathy’s right to free speech. “He disagrees with same-sex marriage,” Deborah Leigh told CBS2. “Most of the people here do too. We’re about freedom of speech and think he was targeted because he truthfully told his opinion on something.”
Another protester told the station, “Whether he believes in traditional marriage or not, he has the right to that opinion.” Similar rallies were held at locations around the country as part of a movement called “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” which was declared by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
“Banning a business from cities around the country because of their political opinion is un-American, and it is not freedom and it is not liberty,” one of the Northridge protesters told Channel 2. “This is supposed to be a free country.”
Chick-fil-A issued a statement noting that it did not organize today’s events, but said the company appreciates “all of our customers and are glad to serve them at any time.”
To counter the support drives, dozens of protesters descended on a Chick- fil-A in Hollywood to blast Cathy’s stance on same-sex marriage. “The gay and lesbian community, LGBT community, is one that’s been persecuted for a long time,” one protester told ABC7. “I think it’s time that they got the opportunity to get the rights that they deserve.”