“I will be at the Chick-fil-A restaurant in Celebration, very near our headquarters, for dinner Wednesday, August 1 at 5 p.m. to make a difference. Will you join me?” Long noted in an email sent out from the political organization he runs, the Tea Party of Florida. “Show up, speak up and show you have courage when many who complain about political correctness, don’t.”
If they can’t make it to Celebration, he said, they should go to any Chick-fil-A restaurant near their home, and enjoy dinner there. It’s being done, Long said, because of pressure the restaurant has gotten from gay rights supporters who have criticized the Chick-fil-A owners’ opposition to gay marriage.
In an email sent out to the media and to the Tea Party’s friends and supporters, Long wrote that “Chick-fil-A is under attack because one of their executives uttered an opinion that wasn’t subservient to political correctness. The mayors of Chicago and Boston are so vexed that they claim they will refuse to allow Chick-fil-A to build a restaurant in their respective cities.”
Dining at Chick-fil-A, he said, sends a message of support for this restaurant.
Equality Matters, a gay rights group, has been critical of the Baptist family that owns the fast-food chain based in Atlanta. For years, Equality Matters says, the family behind Chick-fil-A has given millions to organizations fighting same-sex marriage.
Earlier this month, gay rights groups also criticized Dan T. Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy, for telling a Christian news organization that Chick-fil-A supports the “biblical definition of the family unit.”
The counter-reaction has been equally strong. Students at some univeritisites have tried to get the chain removed from their campus, while Boston Mayor Thomas Mennino sent a letter to Dan Cathy stating that his company was not welcome in the city. Even the Muppets got in on the action when The Jim Henson Company, which created toys for the restaurant chain, announced it would not offer any more Muppets toys and would donate money the company received from Chick-fil-A to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
That prompted for Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to post on Facebook that he was declaring Aug. 1 as Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.
Long said he supported that action.
“Dan, who is in his 60s, made this comment that Chick-fil-A supports traditional America family values, and the homosexual lobby has gotten all bent out of shape about it,” Long said. “Then I heard what Mike Huckabee said on his show, and I thought, ‘You know what, I can do that,’ so I’m trying to organize this for next Wednesday, where we can all have dinner for one night to make a statement.”
But this is not, Long said, an attempt to pass judgment on gays and lesbians, or gay marriage.
“As far as gay marriage, I don’t personally support it, but the Tea Party of Florida takes no position on that,” he said. “We’re not arguing the pros and cons of gay marriage.”
As a Libertarian-minded, small government party, the Tea Party is not looking to get involved in controversial social issues, Long said, including the gay rights debate.
“The Tea Party of Florida doesn’t care,” he said. “The Libertarian position is you don’t go to the government for permission to live your life.”
His support for Chick-fil-A, Long said, is about supporting a business, free from political pressure.
“Really we’re showing support for what we recognize as what’s best about America, and that’s individuals building businesses, giving other people jobs, generating tax revenues,” he said. “Rather than argue with each other, our goal is to get government out of the way of business, until economic conditions improve and revenues increase. What we’re dealing with is a group of activists who have cherry-picked an issue and are using it to destroy a business.”
To learn more about the Chick-fil-A night, contact the Tea Party of Florida, which is at 1420 Celebration Ave., Suite 200, in Celebration, or call 407-566-2422 or email info@TEAPartyofFlorida.US.
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