Chick-fil-A Opening Marred by Youth Protests in Laguna Hills

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The pre-dawn protest in Laguna Hills Photo: YETA via Facebook

A new Chick-fil-A store opened yesterday morning in Laguna Hills, drawing the usual gang of first-day fans who camp overnight whenever a new branch of the chain rears its homophobic head. But their pre-dawn dalliance with free chicken sandwiches would not be an easy one, as roughly 70 pro-LGBT activists from the O.C. arm of a group known as Youth From Youth Empowered (YETA) was there to meet them at five in the morning.

The GLAAD website notes that the YETA members, dressed in "Gay is Okay" t-shirts and sometimes cow costumes mocking the chain's mascot, handed out flyers and asked customers to consider changing allegiances when it came to their fried chicken sandwich supplier. At issue, as you may have heard, is Chick-Fil-A's $2,000,000 in donations to anti-LGBT groups and recent comments made by its CEO affirming it stance against marriage equality.

Furthering one very bad week for the chain, in which both The Muppets and the mayors of Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston told Chick-Fil-A to go cluck itself, the protest in Laguna Hills actually worked in rattling the restaurant. Instead of having a huge old hate party, as planned, ABC reports that the new store simply handed out food and prizes to the assembled mass of about 250 fans and decided to "send people home because of the protests."

In other local Chick-Fil-A news, the owner of the Hollywood branch, Jeremiah Cillpam, is doing his best to distance himself from the crazy talk flowing from C.E.O. Dan Cathy's mouth, reminding people that many of the restaurants are franchises not directly tied to its homophobic headquarters. Cillpam himself became involved with the chain following a serendipitous run-in with Dan Cathy's daughter in Florida. Currently, a boycott is being urged against the Hollywood store on Facebook.

In a statement published by Squid Ink, Cillpam claims, "[Cathy] has made it clear to me those were his personal views, and that his intent was not to speak on behalf of every Chick-fil-A owner. We hope those who are upset will look at their relationship with our restaurant, The Hollywood Chick-fil-A, and allow us to continue to serve them."

Like everybody we've heard speak from the Chick-Fil-A family as of late, the owner doesn't condemn the chain's attempts to stifle the equal rights of the LGBT community, so much as appear to be sweating whether or not you'll come by to purchase his chicken. But it seems that the Southern charm offensive and "aw, shucks" attitude is no longer enough to push the heat away, as forces opposed to the chain's donations and statements are finally organizing and speaking out en masse.

VIDEO & PHOTOS: Orange County Youth Demonstrate Chick-fil-a Grand Opening [GLAAD]
Hollywood Chick-fil-A Addresses Controversy (Sort Of) + 3 Cities Oppose The Chain [SI]
Read Mayor Menino’s Official Letter Blasting Chick-fil-A, Then Watch His Cartoon [GS]
Earlier: Meet Abby Farle, the New Facebook User Who Is Suspiciously Supportive of Chick-fil-A [GS]
Is Chick-fil-A Sauce the New Santorum? [GS]