CHARLOTTE – Recent comments by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy about gay marriage are now getting national attention.
Cathy's comments in support of marriage between a man and a woman thrust the Atlanta-based company into a debate on marriage equality and the balance between religious beliefs and business practices.
Following the comments, political leaders in Boston and Chicago promised to block any new restaurants.
"You can believe or think anything you want to think, but if you have anti-discriminatory policies then we take a second look in First Ward of having that business open in our ward," said Chicago alderman Joe Moreno.
The debate has brought out just as many leaders supporting the fast food company, including former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, who urged people to get a meal Wednesday on “Chick-fil-A Day.”
The Rev. Billy Graham promised he'd attend, adding “Chick-fil-A serves each of its customers with excellence and treats everyone like a neighbor. Each generation faces different issues and challenges, but our standard must always be measured by God’s word. I appreciate the Cathy family’s public support for God’s definition of marriage.”
Restaurant financial analyst Peter Saleh believes any continued publicity for Chick-fil-A could hurt the chain's customer base more than help it.
"The question is how long is this going to last and how much is the impact,” said Saleh. “My best guess would be 1 or 2 percentage points of same-store sales and probably very short lived."
A statement by Chick-fil-A said they treat every customer with respect regardless of sexual orientation and that the company's intent moving forward is to leave the debate over same-sex marriage to the political arena.
Some gay and lesbian rights groups have asked couples to go to Chick-fil-A next Friday and publicly kiss. There is no word yet on whether Equality North Carolina members plan to participate.