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Gay Rights Group Petitions Against Chick-Fil-A, Plans ‘Kiss-In’

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Chick-Fil-A's only Chicago store on Chicago Avenue in the Near North neighborhood. The store wants to build a second store in Logan Square, but the local alderman plans to block that store, over the company president's anti-gay comments. (Credit: CBS)

Chick-Fil-A’s only Chicago store on Chicago Avenue in the Near North neighborhood. The store wants to build a second store in Logan Square, but the local alderman plans to block that store, over the company president’s anti-gay comments. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The gay rights group Equality Illinois is launching a campaign against Chick-Fil-A – petitioning universities and lawmakers to evict the fast food restaurant from their campuses and planning a “kiss-in” campaign by gay and lesbian couples outside Chick-Fil-A restaurants.

The campaign by the group comes just after Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) announced plans to block efforts by Chick-Fil-A to open a second Chicago restaurant, because the company’s president vocally opposes same-sex marriage.

The campaign by Equality Illinois, dubbed “Flick-the-Hate,” urges people to sign a petition geared toward universities and malls that host Chick-Fil-A restaurants.

“As we challenge the company’s anti-LGBT policies, we must also ask these universities and mall owners why they want to do business with a company that holds up hate as a family value,” Equality Illinois says.

Equality Illinois is also urging Chicagoans who support gay rights to participate in an “Eat for Love Day” on Wednesday, Aug. 1. The organization is urging people to eat at a local restaurant that supports LGBT rights and “is unafraid to show its support for equality for everyone.”

The group is asking participants to post where they are planning on eating and sent pictures. Two Boystown restaurants – the Chicago Diner at 3411 N. Halsted St., and the Hearty Boys restaurant at 3819 N. Broadway – are among those participating.

And on Friday, Aug. 3, Equality Illinois is urging gay and lesbian couples to go to their local Chick-Fil-A restaurants for a “kiss-in” campaign, which the group is promoting along with other gay rights organizations nationwide.

At the “kiss-in,” Equality Illinois says, “LGBT supporters will show their disdain for Chick-Fil-A’s policies with public displays of affection in front of their restaurants.”

Chick-Fil-A has drawn a flurry of controversy ever since an article profiling the company ran last week on the Christian news site Baptist Press.

The article notes that some have opposed Chick-Fil-A’s “support for the traditional family,” and goes on to quote Cathy as saying, “Guilty as charged.”

Cathy is quoted further in the July 16 Baptist Press article: “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.”

Cathy further expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage in an interview last month on the radio program “The Ken Coleman Show.”

“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,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about,” Cathy said on the radio program.

Chick-Fil-A currently operates only one location within the Chicago city limits, at at 30 E. Chicago Ave. on the Loyola Water Tower campus. The restaurant also operates Chicago area locations at the Fox Valley center in Aurora, Orland Park, Schaumburg and Wheaton, as well as several locations downstate.

Chick-Fil-A has already obtained zoning for a second planned Chicago in the 2500 block of North Elston Avenue, in Moreno’s ward. But Chick-Fil-A needs City Council approval to divide the land so it can buy out a lot near a Home Depot nearby, and Moreno says he will not be blocking the company.

Before a City Council meeting Wednesday, Moreno said he has tried to work with the company for months, but Chick-fil-A won’t put its stated anti-discrimination policy into writing.

Cathy’s comments also have drawn the high-profile ire of some elected officials and other companies. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has also vowed to block Chick-Fil-A from entering his city at all.

“You called supporters of gay marriage ‘prideful.’ Here in Boston, to borrow your own words, we are ‘guilty as charged,’” Menino said in a letter to Cathy, “We are indeed full of pride for our support of same sex marriage and our work to expand freedom to all people.”

Also, earlier this week, the Jim Henson Co., the maker of the Muppets, backed out of a deal to make children’s toys for Chick-Fil-A.

“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over 50 years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors,” the company said in part in a statement published to Facebook.

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