Conservatives were up in arms this week after finding out a Tennessee franchise of the right’s favorite fast food chain, Chick-fil-A, had sponsored an LGBT film festival in Nashville.
The inclusion struck a nerve among some social conservatives, who rallied behind the fast food chain in recent years after its chief executive, Dan Cathy, came out in opposition to same-sex marriage in 2012.
His stance led to boycotts of the business by supporters of gay rights, as well as counter protests by conservatives. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) went as far as to declare a national “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” which resulted in lines that stretched down the block at restaurant locations throughout the nation.
The latest outrage began, however, after the Level Ground film festival in Nashville listed the chain as an official sponsor on its website. The festival said it received a donation from a local franchise owner.
Yet some conservatives saw something sinister at play.
Two weeks ago, a petition on the website Change.org was created with the title: “CFA Goes Gay, Corporate Needs To Know!”
The online petition, which had 743 signatures as of Wednesday, demanded corporate Chick-fil-A take a stance on the matter since Level Ground and the groups it supports have missions that are “contrary to Chick-fil-A’s corporate stance on Christian values regarding marriage and stewardship.”
The conspiracy theory website WND also added to the saga by warning readers of the possible creeping gay agenda within the chicken sandwich joint:
This is not the first indication of a possible Chick-fil-A about-face. In June, a local restaurant donated 200 sandwiches and side dishes to the Iowa City Pride Fest’s picnic. The restaurant’s owner, Adam Donius, agreed to this arrangement, according to local reports, after being approached by event organizers.
“We offered him different ways he could contribute and be a part of our bridge, help us build community,” Iowa City Pride chairwoman Jewell Amos said. “He said he totally believes in building community. So he was like, ‘sure.’”
And former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) weighed in, :
What’s happening? More signs of the times.
— Michele Bachmann (@MicheleBachmann) November 1, 2015
The website Eater.com got a statement distancing the chain from the film festival: “The operators make decisions on local sponsorships.”
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