House lawmakers invite Chick-fil-A to roost in their districts

Customers swarm a Martinsburg, W.Va. on Wednesday. (Submitted by: Dwayne Landry)

Customers swarm a Martinsburg, W.Va. on Wednesday. (Submitted by: Dwayne Landry)

For all those politicians who were piling on Chick-fil-A last week, there are a bunch more rolling out the red carpet for the chicken chain.

A letter drafted by Mississippi Republican Rep. Alan Nunnelee praises the Atlanta-based fast food restaurant as an American success story and decries attacks mounted against it after company President Dan Cathy spoke out against same-sex marriage. Nunnelee's letter garnered 16 signatures from colleagues in the House of Representatives.


"We write today to show support for the manner in which you have defended your values and reputation in the face of unfair and malicious criticism," the letter to Cathy begins.

The letter from Nunnelee and fellow Republicans states that they are "bewildered" that local politicians in Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco have said the company was unwelcome in their communities because of Cathy's stance.

"We are bewildered by those who would take offense at your values and would block the expansion of your business into their communities," it states. "We welcome Chick-fil-A's investment in our districts."

Nunnelee said he was moved to pen the letter after what he called a "vicious smear campaign" against the restaurant. 

“The criticism they have received has been appalling," Nunnelee said. "Elected officials that are now threatening to block new Chick-fil-A restaurants in their cities are acting in a manner that is un-American. Demanding ideological conformity in order to be allowed to run your business is a dangerous precedent. It is like something that would happen in Soviet Russia."

After Cathy told the Baptist Press he supported the "biblical" definition of marriage, same-sex marriage advocates called for boycotts of the restaurant. In Chicago, an alderman vowed to keep the restaurant from opening a second restaurant in his district and Mayor Rahm Emanual announced that "Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago's values." Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said the restaurant would not be welcome there, but he later acknowledged it is not his right to stop Cathy from doing business there.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who supports same-sex marriage, said its nobody's business what a company exec thinks, but City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is openly gay and has mayoral aspirations, urged New York University not to renew a contract with Chick-fil-A.