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Chicago Gay Rights Activists Set To Protest Against Chick-Fil-A

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) — Chicago gay rights activists are planning another protest Wednesday outside the city’s only Chick-Fil-A.

The Gay Liberation Network is protesting over revelations some time back that the company has donated millions of dollars to organizations that oppose gay rights. The Loyola University chapter of the National Lawyers Guild boycotted the store a year ago, but calls for a new protest were spurred by widely-publicized remarks by Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy against same-sex marriage.

The protest is set for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in front of the Chick-Fil-A at 30 E. Chicago Ave.

Chick-Fil-A dominated the headlines in Chicago and across the country last week, in response to an article profiling the company ran late last month 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.”

Afterward, Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) said he would not grant a zoning permit for Chick-Fil-A to open a second Chicago city location in the 2500 block of North Elston Avenue. While Cathy’s comments have been presented as being only his personal views, Moreno said last week that he is unconvinced that Chick-Fil-A will not discriminate against the LGBT community.

Supporters of Chick-Fil-A have said Moreno’s plan to deny the permit would amount to illegal censorship, and that the comments about same-sex marriage were Cathy’s alone and not representative of any company policy.

The Gay Liberation Network says it agrees that it would be illegal censorship to block a company based “solely on its leaders’ bigoted statements,” but claims there is, in fact, evidence that Chick-Fil-A might be in violation of civil rights principles.

The group cited remarks by Chick-Fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy, originally published in 2007 in Forbes Magazine. The article cites Cathy as saying he “wants married workers, believing they are more industrious and productive,” and says “anyone who applies for an operator license is asked to ‘disclose marital status, number of dependents and involvement in ‘community, civic, social, church and/or professional organizations.”

The Gay Liberation Network says the policies as stated by S. Truett Cathy “discriminate against singles in general, (and) also people in same-sex relationships who, like in Illinois, are not allowed to marry.”

The group compares its protests against Chick-Fil-A to a major nationwide protest as the gay rights movement advanced during the 1970s.

“As our movement against Anita Bryant showed a generation ago, even very entrenched bigots can be defeated by smart and effective use of boycotts, demonstrations and other direct mobilizations of LGBTI’s and our allies,” Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network said in a news release.

Bryant, a former beauty queen and TV spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission, became notorious in the late 1970s for launching the Save Our Children campaign, which initially sought to get an anti-discrimination ordinance in Miami-Dade County repealed. As leader of the campaign, Bryant said gays “cannot biologically produce children; therefore, they must recruit our children.”

Bryant succeeded in getting the Miami-Dade anti-discrimination ordinance repealed, as well as similar ordinances in several other cities. The Gay Liberation Network said the Save Our Children campaign also led to “huge spikes in anti-gay violence in city after city that it visited.”

“But she was defeated not by an expensive, slick ad campaign run by high-paid consultants,” Thayer said in the release, “but by the mobilization of countless thousands of LGBTI’s and our allies in the streets of America. The successful boycott of Florida oranges, and the rallies and marches that accompanied it, was our slick ad campaign.”

Last week, another Chicago gay advocacy group filed multiple complaints against Chick-Fil-A with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, arguing that Dan Cathy’s comments re evidence of a “nationwide corporate policy conveying to non-Christians, homosexuals and unmarried individuals who are in ‘non-traditional’ family units that they are unwelcome, objectionable and unacceptable at restaurants operated and licensed by Chick-Fil-A.”

Also last week, supporters of Chick-Fil-A turned out in droves for a “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” sponsored by former Arkansas governor and onetime Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, while two days later, same sex couples and their supporters descended on Chick-Fil-A locations in Chicago and elsewhere for a “kiss-in.”