US & Canada

Chick-fil-A faces gay 'kiss-in' protest

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Media captionDemonstrators outside Chick-fil-A say they are protesting against "hatred"

Some supporters of gay marriage in the US encouraged their supporters to turn out at outlets of a fast-food chain in a protest against its owner's opposition to same-sex unions.

Same-sex pairs kissed outside several Chick-fil-A restaurants on Friday.

Chick-fil-A boss Dan Cathy has backed the "biblical definition of a family".

The "kiss-in" came two days after "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day", when customers went to the chain's outlets in defence of Mr Cathy's comments.

On Wednesday, Chick-fil-A restaurants in cities across the US, particularly in the South where the majority of its outlets are located, were reported to be bustling with supporters.

In a statement, the chain said that Wednesday had been "an unprecedented day", but it did not release exact sales numbers.

'Guilty as charged'

More than 13,000 people said on Facebook they would be attending "National Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A" on Friday. It is not clear how many people actually took take part in the "kiss-in".

Carly McGehee, one of the organisers, told the Associated Press she hoped the event would help gay youths "who feel isolated and are victims of bullying".

Image caption Some outlets of the food chain saw long queues on Wednesday for "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day"

The event had been organised before ex-presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee called on Wednesday for customers to support the chain.

In southern California on Friday morning police investigated graffiti painted on a Chick-fil-A restaurant that showed a cow painting the words "Tastes like hate" in the style of the firm's advertising.

Photographs from later in the day showed protesters holding signs and kissing outside restaurants in the cities of Dallas, Texas; Los Angeles, California; and Decatur, Georgia.

Supporters of Friday's protest include the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (Glaad).

"Without question, Dan Cathy has every right to voice his opinions and beliefs," Herndon Graddick, Glaad's president, said in a statement.

"But he should meet and get to know the people that he's speaking out against - the people who are harmed by his company's multi-million dollar donations to anti-gay hate groups working to hurt everyday LGBT Americans and break apart loving families."

In 2010, Mr Cathy's non-profit group WinShape, largely supported by Chick-fil-A, donated $2m (£1.2m) to groups that oppose gay marriage, ABC News reported.

Among those was the National Organization for Marriage, which led efforts to ban gay marriage in California.

Mr Cathy's comments came last month in a religious publication, where he said he was "guilty as charged" in backing "the biblical definition of a family".

"We don't claim to be a Christian business," Mr Cathy said. "But as an organisation we can operate on biblical principles."

In a later radio interview, 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."'

Mr Cathy is a Southern Baptist and his chain does not operate any of its stores on Sunday, in observance of the Christian holy day.

"The Chick-fil-A culture and 66-year-old service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honour, dignity and respect - regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender," the company said in a statement.

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