Local Chick-Fil-A restaurants swamped by supporters

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared Wednesday "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day."

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - More people than usual showed up to eat their chicken at the Chick-fil-A on Harden Street in Five Points Wednesday.

The increased crowds were brought out by Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, an event pushed on Facebook by former GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee.

The move was in response to backlash from same-sex marriage supporters aimed at the company's president Dan Cathy, who last month went public with his opposition to gay marriage and his support of the "biblical definition of the family unit."

Hundreds of thousands nationwide pledged to support Cathy's position.

Whether customers showed up at the Harden Street location there to support Cathy or just to grab some lunch, they got caught up in the debate.

"I think it's overblown because we always hear the opinions of people who want gay marriages and stuff," said Norman Paige. "And I think it's excellent that we get both sides."

"Everybody has an opinion and just because someone disagrees with you that doesn't mean you can blow it out of proportion," said Gary Lucas.

Cathy's views don't necessarily reflect the opinions of individual restaurant owners or people fighting for equal treatment in South Carolina.

SC Equality, which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, is sharing fyers with Chick-Fil-A showing its opposition. The flyers play off the chain's catchphrases like "We didn't invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich," by replacing it with their own phrases like "We didn't invent discrimination, we just endorse it."

Christine Johnson, the executive director of SC Equality, doesn't think the controversy will set back gay rights, rather she hopes it will foster positive debate on equal rights.

"Some people get upset with these kinds of things, but, I kind of like them because they actually bring people to my side," said Johnson. "These are things we don't talk about . We don't have healthy dialogue about members of the homosexual community in this state and there are nearly 120,000 of us here."

Same-sex couples are planning a counter to the appreciation day event on Friday with a nationwide kiss-in. Same-sex couples are being encouraged to visit local Chick-Fil-A restaurants for public displays of affection.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)