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UPDATED: Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day Brings Thousands of Supporters to Cerritos

The Cerritos restaurant has been buzzing with customers since early Wednesday as part of a nationwide effort supporting the chain after its CEO spoke out against same-sex marriage.

Editor's Note:  TO VIEW A PATCH VIDEO FEATURE ON CHICK-FIL-A APPRECIATION DAY IN CERRITOS, INCLUDING INTERVIEWS WITH SUPPORTERS. 

Thousands of people stood in lines at the  eatery Wednesday as part of a national effort to support the chain that came under fire when its chief executive spoke out against same-sex marriage.

"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit," Dan Cathy, president and CEO of the fast food chain, told the Baptist Press last month. "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."

The comments by Cathy sparked some calls for boycotts of the restaurant and even some talk of banning the chain from opening franchises in some cities. 

But on Wednesday, business at the Cerritos Chick-fil-A located outside  had been out the door since 10 a.m. as thousands came out to support Cathy's right to free speech.

Locals Speak Out in Support of Chick-fil-A, Freedom of Religion, Speech and Free Enterprise

Mike Gomes, a Cerritos resident, said he learned of the event during his lunchbreak earlier this week, and that he and several co-workers planned to show their support of the CEO's beliefs.

"I'm Catholic ... it's not right for gays and gay marriages. And I'm here in support, he (Cathy) just said a simple comment," Gomes said. "...for what they're telling him, he can't expand in Boston, that's not right, you know. It's not right, just for a comment."

Lydia Anguiano, who has lived in Cerritos for 39 years, said she and her daughter Debbie were there in support of other reasons. 

"We decided we'd come in support not only for religious freedom but for freedom of speech," Anguiano said, adding that she was surprised over the huge turnout but didn't mind waiting "a little over an hour" for her food. "It's worth it!" she said.

Similar rallies were held at locations around the country as part of a movement called "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," which was declared by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

"Banning a business from cities around the country because of their political opinion is un-American, and it is not freedom and it is not liberty," a Northridge protester told CBS2. "This is supposed to be a free country."

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Cerritos Chick-fil-A Owner Thanks Supporters

Brenda Hensen, who along with her husband Robert own the Cerritos restaurant as well the Lakewood location at 4895 Candlewood St. across from the Lakewood Mall, told Patch that the massive turnout was unexpected. 

"We just really want to thank all the customers for coming out in support of Chick-fil-A," Hensen said. "We didn't set up the event and we didn't know what to expect but the line has been out the door all day long. People are waiting and willing to wait like 20 to 25 minutes for their order and nobody's complaining. Everybody is just happy to be here in support and we just want to thank everyone."

Chick-fil-A echoed Hensen's comments in an official statement noting that it did not organize the nationwide event, but said the company appreciates "all of our customers and are glad to serve them at any time."

Cerritos Location Runs Out of Food Supplies With More Than 2,000 Served

Customers waited patiently in a line filed out the door throughout the day with dozens already inside the jampacked restaurant. The huge stream of supporters had been so steady that the eatery ran out of buns at about 7 p.m., forcing one of the employees to make a run to Costco to replenish the stock. Whipped cream used for milkshakes and American cheese were also among the items no longer avaialble due to the overwhelming turnout.

At about 8 p.m., restaurant management estimated that they had already "easily served at least 2,000 customers," and at that point the line outside the restaurant was longer than it had been the entire day with more than 100 people still waiting to order. The business normally closes at 10 p.m., although it was unclear whether that would be the case with so many patrons still in line.

Hensen said the Lakewood location, where her husband was working, also experienced a good turnout of support.

Protesters Speak Out at Some Southland Locations

At other Southland locations, dozens of protesters countered the support drives blasting Cathy's stance on same-sex marriage.

"The gay and lesbian community, LGBT community, is one that's been persecuted for a long time," one protester at a Chick-fil-A in Hollywood told ABC7. "... I think it's time that they got the opportunity to get the rights that they deserve."

"Those kind of messages and that kind of rhetoric is very, very hurtful to our families," another protester told the station. "You know, we have families. We have children. We have parents."

- City News Service contributed to a portion of this report

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS SECTION

Are you in support of Chick-fil-A's stance on marriage? How do you feel about this issue? Do you find Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy's comments offensive? 

Katie Miller August 01, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Thanks for covering this appreciation day. When we were there @ 12:30PM, the parking lot was full and the line was all around to the south-east side of their building! When we left at 1:30PM, the long line was still growing and parking lot was still full. Even the drive-thru had a huge line up of vehicles! Everyone was in a good mood and so supportive of freedom of speech and choice.
Dennis August 02, 2012 at 12:10 AM
I don't understand LGBT point of view. They have all the rights of Heterosexuals. They can marry an opposite sex partner anytime they want. They want to change the definition of marriage. Why isn't the argument about civil unions? Change the law not the dictionary.
Teri Howland August 02, 2012 at 03:05 AM
I did not expect the lines to be so long either, so was grateful to those who graciously allowed me to go ahead of them in line in order to get my food before I had to go to work. I support anybody's right to express their views & the CEO of Chick-Fil-A had every right to do so. Just because he supports a traditional view of marriage, calling him homophobic & a bigot because of his view is wrong!
cliff August 02, 2012 at 07:27 AM
A biblical and natural definition of marriage thousands of years old suddenly politically incorrect because the president suddenly "evolved" ? How about a break for most of us where it takes longer or does not evolve? The majority did not pick this fight, the politicians did. These politicians bully like they are the Chinese communist party not leaders of a wonderful free people. Their political thugs are suppose to come out and disturb the peace on Friday. Voters, please remember our name is America, do not vote into leadership those bullies that do not respect freedom of speech.
E-Dog August 02, 2012 at 08:41 AM
It's funny in your article it said Chik fil A spoke out against gay marriage. The Ceo Dan Cathy toke a stand for traditional marriage between a man and woman as defined in the Bible. It's ok for LGBT to take a stand for their beliefs, but if a Christian takes a stand for their beliefs, it's considered hate or intolerance . We went to support Mr. Cathy's stand he took on Biblical marriage and Americans right to freedom of speech. Just because you are in support of a particular view point, for us the Christian biblical view point, doesn't mean you are a hater or intolerant of others or their views. Jesus died for all sinners (me included) Jesus loves all sinners and does not want any to perish. The choice is ours to follow or not follow Christ, and we should never force our views upon another. The Gospel of Christ is to be shared in Love.
E-Dog August 02, 2012 at 08:46 AM
Cerritos Chik fil A did a great job keeping those big lines flowing, great friendly and professional staff=) The spicy chicken sandwich was a winner. Thank you.
Diana August 02, 2012 at 02:30 PM
http://strongasdeath.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/where-i-stand-on-cfa-8/
Tayani August 02, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Honestly I think this whole thing is blown out of proportion. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The CEO didn't say he was going to mistreat or stop serving the gay community he just stated his opinion that's all. We all believe in something, and this is his belief. Now if he said "I don't want gays eating here or i will mot serve them cause I don't approve of their lifestyle", then there should be a problem.
Diana August 02, 2012 at 10:27 PM
This is so not an argument for freedom of speech. "Political thugs" disturbing the peace...whatever....don't make me laugh.

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