Big Turnout for "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" - NBC Chicago

Big Turnout for "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day"

Patrons said they were defending free speech, not necessarily company president's views on gay marriage

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    Big Turnout for "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day"

    Support for restaurant comes after former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared August 1 the national day to recognize the chain following its president's comments condemning same-sex marriage. Sharon Wright reports. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012)

    Hundreds of people gathered at Chick-fil-A’s Chicago area locations Wednesday to celebrate a recently declared national “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”

    The over-flowing support for the restaurant came after former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared August 1 the national day to recognize the "original chicken sandwich." The company's president last month re-affirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage.

    Many of those who turned out, even several who said they disagreed with the president's comments, said it was more about supporting freedom of speech.

    The controversy involving Chick-fil-A recently came under fire in Chicago when Ald. Joe "Proco" Moreno (1st) spoke out against the restaurant’s stance by attempting to block the restaurant from opening a Logan Square location.

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel later joined the debate.

    "Gay couples are our neighbors, our families, members of our own families, they’re our residents- those are our values," he said at the time. "And we don’t want to have any policy that discriminates against people that are essential members and members who contribute to the value of our city. That’s who we are."

    In another twist, the head of Chicago's Republican Party on Wednesday filed a complaint with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office, charging the mayor and Moreno with trying to block the building of a new restaurant in the city.

    Both Emanuel and Moreno said that while they oppose the company's stance on gay marriage, they would not block a new one from opening if it met all of the city requirements.

    The group Equality Illinois countered the "appreciation day" move by urging LGBT supporters to eat at local restaurants they said aren't afraid to stand behind the gay community.

    The Illinois Republican Party urged opponents of gay marriage to eat at the restaurant and offered a $5 Chick-fil-A gift certificate to anyone who donates $10 before Sept.1