Controversial Chicken: Chick-fil-A’s Gay Rights Rumble

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Gay-rights activists want you to think twice before ordering your next chicken sandwich and waffle fries. (via The New York Times)

“If you’re eating Chick-fil-A, you’re eating anti-gay,” reads a headline on a gay-rights blog.

News that a Pennsylvania outlet of the Georgia-based fast food chain had agreed to provide some of its famous chicken sandwiches for an upcoming marriage seminar run by one of the state’s leading anti-gay organizations has created a firestorm online and forced members of Chick-fil-A’s fanatic base to choose whether to boycott their beloved sandwich in the name of solidarity with the gay community.

(More on TIME.com: See a photo history of the gay-rights movement.)

Chick-fil-A has long-been transparent about its Christian values. They close their stores on Sundays, a practice that has helped the chain garner the nickname “Jesus Chicken,” and have even gone so far as to consider a potential employee’s marital status and civic and church involvement in their hiring process. But while the company’s beliefs come as no surprise, in sponsoring the Art of Marriage Conference, some say the restaurant empire took its evangelizing to a new level.

“They’re going in a direction we haven’t seen in faith-based businesses before,” Lake Lambert, author of Spirituality, Inc. told the Times. “This is probably the next phase of evangelical Christianity’s muscle flexing.”

(More on TIME.com: Watch a video of a gay wedding.)

The Chick-fil-A outcry, which has sparked boycotts and proposals from college students to remove the restaurant from campuses, is reminiscent of a recent scandal involving Target. In July 2010, the retail giant faced boycotts and backlash from the gay community when it was discovered the company made campaign contributions to anti-gay politicians. (For their part, Target’s CEO Gregg Steinhafel apologized for the donations, but recent Federal Election Commission filings show the donations continued.)

While Chick-fil-A posted a video on its Facebook fan page, which states the company values all people, the gay community and its supporters are not likely to forget that many other friendlier locations also sell chicken sandwiches.

(More on TIME.com: Read “Confessions of a Gay Weapon of Martial Destruction.)

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