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Crossroads residents flock to support Chick-fil-A (video)

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 1, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.
Updated Aug. 2, 2012 at 3:02 a.m.

Samuel Thigpen hands Susan Orr, left, and her daughter, Caitlyn, 30, meals for the youth group at First Baptist Church of Goliad.

To learn more about Chick-fil-A, visit www.chick-fil-a.com.

To learn more about GLBT Victoria, visit http://glbtvictoria.org.

When is a chicken sandwich not a chicken sandwich? When it's a means to make a political statement.

Crossroads residents on Wednesday flocked to Victoria Chick-fil-A restaurants for "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," a nationwide event begun by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to support the restaurant chain and values under which it operates.

Chick-fil-A faced recent backlash after an interview by CEO Dan Cathy in which he discussed the chain's Christian values and belief in traditional marriage between a man and woman.

At lunchtime, Chick-fil-A's 6104 N. Navarro St. location was packed with customers indoors, while the drive-through line stretched to the end of H-E-B's parking lot.

At 12:15 p.m., Victoria resident Sharon Jones and her four grandchildren loaded into their black minivan, fast food bags and drinks in hand. Although the wait inside neared 30 minutes, Jones said she was glad she went.

"We support Mr. Cathy, and I support his stance on marriage," she said. "And I like their food."

For Allen Junek, a Port O'Connor resident, the visit was more about freedom of speech.

"I think Chick-fil-A should have a right to their opinion," he said. "I'm not making a point about being gay or anything. I just don't think they should be oppressed for trying to voice their opinion."

Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgener Victoria has not organized a response to Wednesday's event but will likely discuss plans at a meeting next week, said Fernando Garcia, the group's vice president.

The organization's website said GLBT Victoria is aimed at educating the Crossroads and ending discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Garcia acknowledged that Chick-fil-A was a business that had always operated under its current principles and said it had that right. Still, he said, he hoped he and his organization could change at least one person's mind.

"I love Chick-fil-A sandwiches but, at the same time, I won't support somebody that doesn't support me," he said. "I'm not saying I'll stop eating there completely, but will I limit my business? Probably."

Down the road, the chain's Victoria Mall location, 7800 N. Navarro St., was just as busy as the first. Both restaurants ran out of their signature waffle fries, opting instead for the crinkle-cut variety about 1 p.m. and, even with multiple registers open, experienced long lines.

Robert Mendieta, who visited the mall location with his wife, Eva Mendieta, said he didn't mind the wait. Instead, he used it as a chance to discuss his reasons for supporting the restaurant with others in line.

Along with freedom of speech, he said he also supported the company's beliefs regarding marriage.

"We should support people who voice their opinion," he said, noting he was glad to see people of all ages eating at the restaurant. "I'm real proud of Victoria today."

Not all support came through chicken purchases.

On Wednesday, the sign outside Warrior Supply on the Houston Highway read, "Take a stand, eat more chicken."

Business owner Stephen Argubright often decorates the sign with religious messages. He said that when he learned of the cause through Facebook he wanted to take action.

The company purchases breakfast tacos for customers and employees, Argubright added, but this week changed that to Chick-fil-A. On Wednesday, its food purchases totaled about $300.

"Every time someone stands up for God, everyone squawks against them," he said. "We wanted to stand up for them."

Attempts to reach Victoria Chick-fil-A restaurants for comment were unsuccessful. In a company news release, Executive Vice President of Marketing Steve Robinson noted that Chick-fil-A did not create the event.

"We appreciate all of our customers and are glad to serve them at any time," he said in the release. "Our goal is simple: to provide great food, genuine hospitality and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A."

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