Many in Middle Tennessee made a statement Wednesday about a popular fast-food chain caught in a gay marriage controversy.
Huge crowds filled Chick-fil-A restaurants across the Mid-State for a "customer appreciation day" in support of recent comments by the company's CEO Dan Cathy on traditional marriage.
"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,'" Cathy said in an interview with the Baptist Press. "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."
The comments caught the attention of those who support same-sex marriage and when they opposed, those who agree with Cathy's stance designated Wednesday as a day to show support.
That support was overwhelming at many locations across Middle Tennessee, as lines of customers stretched out into parking lots and drive through lanes stretched onto nearby roads.
Nearly 500,000 people across the country joined a Facebook page to show their support, and some like Jennifer Wilkreson drove at least 45 minutes Wednesday to line up for a signature chicken sandwich.
"Just been watching the news and the coverage on Facebook and really supporting what they believe in," she said. "I thought (the line) would be this big. And I was really surprised to show up and how fast they moved me through the line. The workers don't seem surprised at all. They were very courteous."
The issue also caught the attention of politicians who support traditional marriage, such as former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.
But it should be noted you cannot boil the range of opinions down to just two sides.
"I don't believe that people should be saying they can't have their stores in various places. They have a right to have their stores. Actually, I defend their right to have their stores just as I defend the right of people who don't want to shop there because they don't agree with discrimination," said civil rights attorney Abby Rubenfeld.
Police were present throughout the day at many Chick-fil-A restaurants across the area, but none have reported any issues.
Those who support same-sex marriage have urged their side to donate $6.50, the average price of a Chick-fil-A mean, to a gay rights group. They also have set their own protest event for later in the week at Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country.
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