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Chick-fil-A supporters crowd local store

Fans were there to show support for the restaurant chain, which is under fire after its CEO made statements opposed to gay marriage. O.C. gay rights leaders remain critical.

August 01, 2012|By Jenny Stockdale
  • Summer Stanford takes an order from Kim Sharer who waited for two hours in line to eat at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, Aug. 1.
Summer Stanford takes an order from Kim Sharer who waited… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Long lines of cars and more than 200 people snaked through the Chick-fil-A at Harbor Boulevard and Gisler Avenue on Wednesday, turning out for a fan-based event meant to support the chain restaurant under national criticism after its chief executive took a public stance against gay marriage.

Men, women and children — some coming from as far away as Riverside — stood in line for more than an hour and a half to order their waffle fries and chicken sandwiches during Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

The line switch backed through the interior and wrapped around the exterior of the 163-person capacity building, though customers were patient and voiced few complains on the wait.

Though it was lunchtime, many people were there to express their support, citing their individual beliefs in free speech and religious liberties. The majority of the crowd, comprised of many Christians, said they heard of the event through e-mail, talk radio, church, Facebook and other social media platforms.

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Vicki Parsons, a Tustin resident who runs a small Internet technology company in Santa Ana, stood in line with her daughter for an hour and 10 minutes, but said it was well worth the wait.

"The ability for a company to be able to believe what they want to believe and still have their doors open to whoever wants to or chooses to give their business — that's why I'm here," she said. "Yes, I am a Christian, but my strongest support stems from being a business owner. I want to believe what I want to believe and not be condemned for what I believe, and give people the freedom of choice, if they want to do business with us."

Newport Beach resident Ian Conger cited both business and religion as his reasons for dining Wednesday at the relatively new Costa Mesa location.

"This company is family owned, and they're putting their money where they want to and that's their right," he said. "Nobody should tell someone how they should spend their money. God is very good to my wife and I, and I feel God's going to be with us through this and he'll be with the opposer as well. He doesn't hate anybody."

Lake Forest resident Deanna Kirchen stood in line with her children to support the restaurant for religious reasons.

"I've been in line for over an hour, and I'm only about three quarters of the way through," she said. "I'm hungry and yes, we came here for lunch, but I wanted to support Chick-fil-A for having the cojones to stand up for biblical values."

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