Chick-fil-A staff had its hands full Wednesday, with hundreds filing into the Oracle Road location in support of the establishment, and company president Dan Cathy’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
Many waited 45 minutes or more just to order, but all said they were happy to wait.
Oro Valley resident John Flanagan was one of those who waited to eat.
“Today, I was one of the hundreds of supporters of free speech and religious expression who joined together and went to our local Chick-fil-A on Oracle Road in Tucson,” he said. “The line was long but nobody complained. Although few in the media showed up to cover this event today, I saw with my own eyes that people do care about their freedom in America, even if such views are insulted daily, undermined, omitted by the press, and considered arcane to the progressives.”
The controversy started after some mayors and political figures called for a boycott of Chick-fil-A because Cathy has stood by his stance that he believes in the biblical definition of marriage.
“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy told CNN. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
In response to big-town mayors calling for a boycott, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, called for a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, “ on Wednesday. Huckabee announced the plan on Facebook, having more than 620,000 people say they would participate in supporting Chick-fil-A nationwide.
Joining the hundreds of citizens standing in line in Tucson, many Republican politicians also honored Huckabee’s call to show Chick-fil-A some appreciation.
Adam Kwasman, a Republican candidate running for State Representative in District 11, joined other candidates at the Oracle restaurant.
“I went to support religious freedom and freedom of speech,” Kwasman said. “I don’t believe liberals like Rahm Emanuel (Chicago Mayor) should say who should be in business and who shouldn’t be.”
Kwasman said he was enthused with the number of people who not only came to Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, but also because all of them proudly stood in line to spend their money on a company they believe in.
“I am just glad to see how many people showed up here today to really show support for the Republican movement,” Kwasman said.
Some of the local candidates also took part in the event. Pima County Board of Supervisors District 1 candidates Stuart McDaniel and Vic Williams were proud to show support in the name of freedom of speech.
“I don’t think government officials should be able to ban (Chick-fil-A) just because of the CEO’s position on a social issue,” Williams said. “It’s bad government to try and stop a business just because they disagree.”
Williams visited the restaurant on Oracle earlier in the day, where there were about 20 people in line around 9:30 a.m.
McDaniel, also pleased with the high turnout around lunchtime, agreed it’s about protecting freedom of speech and religious rights.
“I was there to support our personal religious freedoms,” McDaniel said. “It is wrong that big government is calling for a boycott just because of personal beliefs. I was happy and surprised to see how many people were there to support this cause.”
Nancy Young Wright, the Democrat running in the District 1 race, did not take part in the appreciation day.
Instead, Young Wright said while she supports freedom of speech and that Cathy has a right to his own point of view, she isn’t sure it’s good for business in Pima County.
“We need to be a county that doesn’t exclude any class of people,” Young Wright said. “(Cathy) has his own beliefs, but it is not a message I support. We need to promote a community that is fair and diverse.”
For residents like Flanagan, he feels today’s message was clearly about defending Christian faith.