By Ed Runyan
About 20 people showed up to participate in the Same Sex Kiss-In at the Chick-fil-A restaurant on U.S. Route 224 here Friday night, and a half-dozen at the Southern Park Mall restaurant.
It was organized to protest statements Chick-fil-A President Dan T. Cathy made condemning gay marriage.
But as protests go, the kiss-in turned out to be more of a love-in than a confrontation.
Anita Davis, president of Youngstown Pride, a group that supports gay, bisexual and transgender people, entered the Boardman restaurant and talked briefly with the store’s owner, Gail McCullough, and then came back inside with about a half-dozen participants to stage their kiss-in.
McCullough even offered free chicken sandwiches and drinks to the group and left them alone to have their pictures taken as they kissed inside the restaurant.
No customers appeared to engage in any conversation with the protesters.
“I’m fine with what they’re doing as long as it doesn’t cause problems,” McCullough said. “Everybody has a right to their own opinion.”
The protesters who went to the mall restaurant said they, too, were treated warmly and given free drinks and a place to sit and stage their demonstration.
Jett Adkins, 25, of Warren was among the first people to arrive at the Boardman restaurant, holding a sign that read: “Wipe out homophobia. You sin too! Let us love!!”
“Twenty years ago it was everybody trying to keep blacks and whites from marrying, and today it’s not a big issue,” she said. “Forty years ago it was women fighting for their rights.”
Adkins said the book of Leviticus from the Bible not only says that homosexuality is an abomination, but it also says tattoos are wrong.
“So why pick and choose?” she asked. “People with homophobia use religion as an excuse to mask their actions.”
A statement McCullough handed out Friday said Cathy’s father, Truett Cathy, has applied biblically based principals to managing his business since he began the company.
“For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.
“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.
“We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent owner/operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”