The wait around 3 p.m. Wednesday was two hours through a winding line at parking lot just to get to the front door.
“I like their view on marriage and I believe we should have the freedom to at least express our views on it,” said Susan Soulian, who drove an hour from Wilmington to wait in the long line. “That’s all they did. You can’t let a business not set up because of a different viewpoint.”
Soulian was among a steady flow of people numbering in the thousands who appeared at the Orland Park Chick-fil-A franchise throughout Wednesday, to show support after public officials denounced the company’s stance against gay marriage.
The fallout, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s own statement about the company’s values “are not Chicago’s values,” started with a comment made by Chick-fil-A president and chief operating officer Dan Cathy.
According to the Baptist Press article by K. Allan Blume:
Some have opposed the company's support of the traditional family. "Well, guilty as charged," said Cathy when asked about the company's position.
In response to the outcries against the company, Fox News pundit and former governor Mike Huckabee created a Facebook event called Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, though the company had no formal involvement.
“This is not a Chick-fil-A event, nor a Chick-fil-A sponsored event,” said Cassie Dignan, marketing director for the Orland Park restaurant. “It was started by fans of Chick-fil-A. “We just heard through the news that we should probably get ready. We had a lot of people call last week that they’d be coming.”
Dignan said an exact number of customers wouldn’t be available until after business hours, but a long wrap around line outside the restaurant – that one patient patron said took about two hours just to get inside – started forming around 9 a.m. Wednesday.
“Some people were waiting in line at 5:30 a.m. before we opened,” Dignan said. “. It’s just been crazy. We’re just a chicken place that’s here to serve really great chicken and treat people with honor, dignity and respect.”
Former Michigan State Senator Cameron Brown and his wife Helen drove about two-and-a-half hours to Orland Park from Kalamazoo, Michigan to support the company.
“This is a fundamental expression of everything we believe as Americans,” Cameron Brown said about visiting the Orland franchise. “Mr. Cathy has been well-mannered. He made a statement about marriage and he has a right to do that. It’s hard to imagine this is happening in America. We feel this is the most patriotic expression we can do.”
Cameron Brown further said statements from Emanuel and other mayors are “mean-spirited and un-American.”
Becky Howard came from Bridgeview to offer her support at the Orland location, but chose to open doors for people leaving rather than wait in the long line.
“I don’t believe in same sex marriage, but I do think if we don’t stand up for our rights they could take away our freedom of speech,” Howard said. “It bothers me that we live in a country where we should have freedom of speech and it could be taken away just because we believe differently.”