Gays target US fast-food chain with 'kiss-in'
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Gays and lesbians puckered up in protest Saturday, staging "kiss-ins" outside Chick-fil-A outlets across the United States over the fast-food chain's opposition to same-sex marriage.
Using social media to publicise the event, organisers expected at least 15,000 people to turn out for a collective coast-to-coast kiss.
Stealing a march on the rest of the nation, however, activists installed a same-sex kissing booth outside a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Dallas.
"We want to show the country and the Chick-fil-A company that our love is just as valid, just as real and just as good as heterosexual love," organizer Carly McGehee said by telephone from the Texan city.
"And we deserve the right to be protected under the law, to raise our families and love who we want to love regardless of gender."
With more than 1,600 outlets, mainly in the southern United States, family-owned Chick-fil-A is as famous for its Bible Belt values it never opens on Sunday as it is for
its chicken sandwiches and nuggets.
But it is under fire from gay rights activists and their supporters who, citing tax records, say it has given millions of dollars to conservative Christian groups that vigorously campaign against marriage equality.
"Guilty as charged," Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told a Baptist publication last month, adding in a subsequent radio interview that the United States is "inviting God's judgment" by recognising same-sex vows.
Same-sex marriage, legal in six US states, is a hot-button issue among Americans this election year, with President Barack Obama in favour and his Republican rival Mitt Romney opposed.
In a statement Saturday, Chick-fil-A seemed unworried by National Same Sex Kiss Day, saying it appreciated "all of our customers" and was glad to serve them at any time.
"Our goal is simple: to provide great food, genuine hospitality and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A," said Steve Robinson, executive vice president for marketing.