Gay Marriage Activists Try Again to Counter Chick-fil-A Day

PHOTO: Customers at Starbucks

After traditional marriage advocates came out en masse for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day last week, gay marriage activists are planning to swarm Starbucks on Tuesday to show their support for companies that offer same-sex partner benefits.

Today's National Marriage Equality Day is a "direct response" to conservative commentator Mike Huckabee's Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, which the chicken company said led to "record-setting" sales last week.

"It felt like the right wing groups were showcasing Aug. 1 as 'This is how America feels,'" said Kirsten Ott Palladino, the editor of an online same-sex wedding magazine, Equally Wed, who, along with her wife, started the equality day effort. "We are wanting to say, 'This isn't all of America and we can come out and support our businesses too."

The controversy began after Chick-fil-A's president, Dan Cathy, was widely quoted as opposing same-sex 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,'" he said.

Palladino told ABC News the day was originally planned as Starbucks Appreciation Day, to show support for a company that, unlike Chick-fil-A, supports same-sex marriage and offers benefits to same-sex couples. But Starbucks managers asked Palladino to expand the effort to include other companies that are supporters of LGBT rights, a change Palladino said she happily made.

"In the end I think that I'm happier with it becoming this because it's not just supporting businesses that support marriage equality, but also non-profits that are working tirelessly and sometimes thanklessly to support marriage equality in this country," she said. "At the end of the day it's not just about seeing how many lines we're wrapping around Starbucks."

Starbucks did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment. To see a full list of businesses the equality day is celebrating click here.

More than 28,500 people have said on Facebook they will join in Tuesday's appreciation day, about twice as many attendees as there were for the Chick-fil-A kiss-in that other LGBT advocates held on Friday. About 12,000 people signed up on Facebook for the kiss-in, which urged same-sex couples to take a photo of themselves kissing outside a Chick-fil-A.

It's still a fraction of the 650,000 people who said on Facebook that they would attend Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day last Wednesday.

Palladino said Huckabee's "household name status" is what made his pro-traditional marriage event so popular. Big name conservatives like Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum also posted their support for the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on Twitter and Facebook.

The marriage equality day, on the other hand, does not have that star power. Palladino said she hopes for hundreds, maybe thousands of people to choose to spend their money at businesses like Amazon.com, Nike and Starbucks for National Marriage Equality Day.

While much of the furor over Chick-fil-A died down following Wednesday's appreciation day, advocates are continuing their call for companies associated with the chicken chain to break ties. On Tuesday activists will deliver 80,000 petition signatures to HarperCollins, which publishes the Berenstain Bears books being given out with Chick-fil-A kids' meals.

"A lot of folks feel like Chick-fil-A's financing of adamantly anti-gay groups, including hate groups like the Family Research Council, they feel like that is wrong and the folks that are doing business with anti-gay Chick-fil-A should cut ties," said Sarah Lane, a spokeswoman for CREDO Action, which is delivering the petitions along with the progressive organizations Faithful America and SumofUs.

The Berenstain family has distanced itself from the now-controversial restaurant, saying on its website that it does not have control over whether the Berenstain Bears are used in Chick-fil-A marketing. In a note posted on the front page of the site, the Berenstain family directs any grievances to HarperCollins, which has been developing the Chick-fil-A promotion for "over a year."

Last month the Jim Henson company pulled its toys from Chick-fil-A kids' meals following Cathy's comments. The company said it would donate the payment it received from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD, a gay rights advocacy group.

"The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors," the company said on its Facebook page on July 20.

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