LAGUNA HILLS (CBS) — A gay rights group Thursday protested the grand opening of an Orange County Chick-fil-A restaurant over the company’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
The youth group of the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center of Orange County handed out fliers to customers waiting in line for free chicken sandwiches at the new restaurant, which is located at 24011 El Toro Road in Laguna Hills.
The protest, which garnered a few heated exchanges, began at 5 a.m. and continued for several hours.
“The money that you’ve just spent at Chick-fil-A is going to be turned around and used in hate groups to deny you equal rights,” said one protestor.
Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy said publicly he doesn’t support same-sex marriage. Chick-fil-A says it has a history of applying Biblical principles to its business, such as closing stores on Sundays.
The chain also reportedly donated millions to anti-gay groups in recent years, according to Equality Matters.
Laura Kanter of the Orange County Gay and Lesbian Services Center said they had a few people say negative things during the demonstration.
“(But) it’s been more positive than negative,” she said. “We’ve had people find out what we’re doing and change their minds. We had one person change their mind and join our protest.”
Many residents eager to dine at Chick-fil-A crowded into the store despite the ruckus.
“I don’t think a marriage between John and Steve should be shoved down Christian’s throats,” said one woman.
Tempers flared when a Lake Elsinore man stood a few feet from the supporters.
“They lie about saying God made them that way,” he said.
Management didn’t interfere with the protest.
“It’s really worked out fantastic. They’ve been extremely cordial to us and we’ve been that way to them. There’s been no conflict whatsoever,” said Chick-fil-A’s Skip Macharg.
“Chick-fil-A is aware of demonstrators who have gathered outside our Laguna Hills restaurant today, and we have worked to ensure the group is provided a place to voice its opinions,” said Donald Perry, Vice President of Corporate Public Relations.
Baptist minister Mike Huckabee has arranged a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” August 1.