Meeting the Chicken Challenge

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s plan to show support for Chick-fil-A restaurants on Aug. 1 succeeded. It was a record-setting day of profits for this restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A’s executive vice president of marketing, Steve Robinson, confirmed. He said the company doesn’t disclose exact sales numbers.
On Huckabee’s website, www.mikehuckabee.com/supportchickfila, organizers stated the purpose of their plan: “The goal is simple: Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating
at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1.”
The website said that organizers were not asking people to bring protest signs or engage in verbal battles. They simply asked them to show up and eat at the restaurants if they supported “Godly values.” The website offered a form that allowed people to sign in and check off a Yes, No or Maybe box about whether they would be eating at one of the restaurants, and check off another box if they would like more information about the event.
No doubt Huckabee gathered an email list of thousands of people that he can now exploit for more conservative messages in the future. Towleroad.com reported that Huckabee had received nearly 550,000 RSVPs by Aug. 1. Frankly, from a marketing perspective, it was brilliantly done.
Not so fast, though. Despite the one-day surge, GLAAD.org reported that the YouGov BrandIndex site analyzed and reported a 26 percentage point drop in brand measurement scores for Chick-fil-A on July 25, after Cathy’s remarks were published July 16.
But of course, “eat at Chick-Fil-A day” was more than a conservative movement to help fill Chick-fil-A’s coffers. This was an organized movement by Christian conservatives to defend what they said was an attack on free speech and Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy’s statement when he said: “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.”
This was never really about restricting freedom of speech. It was about Chick-fil-A’s donations of more than $5 million to anti-LGBT groups since 2003.
In Kansas City, the LGBT community staged a “Chicken Dance” led by drag queen entertainers Daisy Buckët, Genewa Stanwyck and Renica Justrenica at the Chick-Fil-A on State Line Road outside the Ward Parkway shopping mall at 7 p.m. on Aug. 1. Many LGBT people and allies carried protest signs outside the restaurant, and many cars driving by honked their horns in support.
However, the group was clearly outnumbered by the long lines of people and cars waiting to eat at the restaurant. At one point, a group of three Christians came over from the restaurant to tell the group that “God loves us.” Buckët, in classic Daisy form, looked at them and simply said, “She’s right.” It was a perfect response to acknowledge that they know God loves them and don’t need a Christian protester to tell them so.
One man who had been standing at the Chick-fil-A all day in the hot sun with his protest sign told me that the employees of the restaurant came out to him several times during the day to offer him glasses of water. This was yet one more indicator that the protest by the LGBT and allied communities was never about free speech or employees of the restaurant chain, but a protest of corporate donations in the millions of dollars to anti-LGBT groups.
For Friday, Aug. 3, another national protest called for “kiss-ins” by LGBT people at the restaurants. It successfully motivated LGBT people in Kansas City and other places to come out and show same-sex affection in front of those who might otherwise scorn them.
More action is in the works. Student groups at universities around the country are asking that this restaurant chain that supports religious discrimination toward the LGBT community be removed from campuses. Petitions and protests have been created at both the University of Kansas and UMKC.
There’s no sign that the pressure will let up as long as organizations like Chick-fil-A support anti-LGBT organizations, and maybe that’s one of the best things that has ever come from a chicken sandwich.

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