Chick-fil-A Opponents Stage Same-Sex Kiss-In

Gay rights activists chose kisses and hugs over chicken and nuggs.

August 2, 2012, 6:57 PM

August 3, 2012 -- On Wednesday hundreds of thousands of traditional marriage activists ate "mor chickin" to support Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. Today, it is same-sex marriage allies' turn.

Gay marriage supporters are putting a romantic spin on traditional sit-ins, organizing "kiss-ins" outside of Chick-fil-A restaurants from Dallas to New York City to celebrate National Same-Sex Kiss Day.

"Basically what you're going to get is a bunch of pretty normal, average, everyday people that just happen to be gay or lesbian give each other a kiss or a hug, hold each other's hand, and really show them that we stand up for what we believe," said Marci Alt, who is organizing a protest outside the Chick-fil-A in Decatur, Ga., about 20 miles from the company's Atlanta headquarters.

While the spark for this week's protests both for and against Chick-fil-A stemmed from comments the company's CEO, Dan Cathy, made supporting traditional marriage, the issues driving people to the streets go deeper than one executive's words.

"For me why it's so important is, I don't believe anybody should have the ability to say, I'm not a good Christian, or I'm Jewish, that I'm not a good Jew because I'm gay," said Alt, who has been with her wife for 12 years and has two daughters. The couple have invited Cathy over to dinner, where they "can share a respectful dialogue about our faith, work and families here in Georgia," said Alt, who says she'll even make chicken.

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Many of the Chick-fil-A supporters who turned out for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day told ABC News that they chose to eat chicken sandwiches on Wednesday to support Cathy's First Amendment rights to express his opinion on marriage.

Activists who are planning to turn out for Friday's kiss-off say it is not about the CEO's speech, it's about his company's actions. Chick-fil-A and the non-profit foundation WinShape that it supports have donated millions to anti-gay groups.

Between 2008 and 2010, Chick-fil-A donated $28.4 million to the WinShape Foundation, according to the nonprofit's IRS reports.

In that same time WinShape has given $3.2 million to organizations that advocate against same-sex marriage. WinShape gave $1.2 million to the Marriage and Family Foundation, which lobbies against same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination policies, in 2010.

Over the three years of available tax returns, WinShape donated $2,000 to the Family Research Council, which pushes for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman and was designated as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010.

The Chick-fil-a-backed nonprofit gave also gave $2,500 to the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented proponents of California's Proposition 8 to outlaw gay marriage in the U.S. Court of Appeals when the proposition was ruled unconstitutional.

"Yes, you're allowed to have your opinion, but when you start signing checks over to people who are against my community and trying to rip my family apart, I'm going to stand up," Alt said.

Alt said she expects "hundreds, hopefully thousands" of people to show up for the Atlanta kiss-in.

Carly McGehee, who founded National Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A, said she expects 15,000 people to have a same-sex smooch outside the company's 1,600 locations nationwide today. McGehee said she got the idea for the kiss-in from a similar event at Starbucks in 2009, where gay couples kissed in the coffee shop to show support for the company's domestic partner benefits.

Besides the kisses, McGehee, 24, said supporters are celebrating Kiss Day with by constructing kissing booths and buying Chick-fil-A food using dollar bills that they've written "gay money" on. McGehee said she wanted to hold a kiss-in rather than a traditional picket signs and chants protest so that "people see where we're coming from."

"This is a day about love," she said. "Our love is just as valid, just as real and just as credited as heterosexual love and we deserve the same protections under the law to raise a family and get married.""It is just a nice nonviolent demonstration of LGBT love," said

Rome Frost, who is organizing a kiss-in in New York City, said Friday's protests are a "nonviolent demonstration of LGBT love."

Because there is only one Chick-fil-A location in New York City, Frost is holding his kiss-in outside the restaurant on the New York University campus, which is closed for the summer. He said he expects between 150 and 200 people – both gay and straight – to show up for the New York City kiss-in, which starts at 8 P.M. ET.

"It's to show how much support that we do have and how we can solve these kinds of problems in a very nonviolent and romantic way," he said.

But while both the Chick-fil-A Kiss-Ins and the Appreciation Day have, by and large, been peaceful, police are investigating graffiti at a Southern California Chick-fil-A after "Tastes Like Hate" was painted in large, black block letters across the side the restaurant.

The graffiti mirrored the style of Chick-fil-A's "Eat Mor Chikin" ads and had a cow holding a paintbrush painted beside the words.

Cole Donahoo, who owns that Chick-fil-A franchise in Torrance, California, told the Long Beach Press-Telegram that he would get the graffiti "cleaned up as quickly as possible."

The restaurant declined to comment to ABC News citing the ongoing police investigation.

While it is Chick-fil-A's policy not to fire people over their sexual orientation, a Tucson, Arizona man was fired for criticizing a Chick-fil-A employee for supporting "hate groups" while he was going through the drive through on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

Adam Smith, the former CFO and treasurer at the Tucson-based medical device manufacturing company Vante, posted a YouTube video showing him ording a free water at the Chick-fil-A drive-through window. Upon being handed his water Smith started criticizing the company and the young female employee who handed him his beverage.

"I don't know how you live with yourself and work here," Smith said in the video. "I don't understand it. This is a horrible corporation with horrible values. You deserve better."

Vante fired Smith on Thursday, issuing a statement saying that Smith's actions " do not reflect our corporate values in any manner."

"We respect the right of our employees and all Americans to hold and express their personal opinions, however, we also expect our company officers to behave in a manner commensurate with their position and in a respectful fashion that conveys these values of civility with others," the company said in the statement.

"We hope that the general population does not hold Mr. Smith's actions against Vante and its employees," it added.

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