(WASHINGTON) — Chick-fil-A has worn out its welcome with the mayors of Boston, San Francisco and Chicago, but some Texas politicians are more than ready to welcome the controversial restaurant chain with their Southern hospitality.
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who’s engaged in a tight GOP primary to fill retiring Kay Bailey Hutchison’s U.S. Senate seat, held a campaign rally outside an Austin Chick-fil-A this morning to show his support for the restaurant. The company has been embroiled in controversy for the past week after its CEO, Dan Cathy, said he does not support gay marriage, only the “biblical definition of the family unit.”
Dewhurst, who supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage between one man and one woman, chastised Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for saying Chick-fil-A wasn’t welcome in Chicago because its “values are not Chicago values.”
“In Texas, we don’t try and be politically correct,” Dewhurst said today, according to the Dallas Morning News. “We want people to have freedom of their beliefs, freedom of religion.”
Dewhurst spokesman Matt Hirsch told ABC News that the Dewhurst campaign chose to hold one of its final events before Tuesday’s election at the South Austin Chick-fil-A to “show his support for the company” and remind voters that Dewhurst is “encouraging people to come to Texas to invest and create jobs.”
At a rally this weekend for rival Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin said she loves “me some Chick-fil-A” and promised to stop by the restaurant after her speech.
“Jason, you’re going to have to take me on our way back to the airport later. We drive by a Chick fil-A. We don’t have that in Alaska,” she said to her aide as the crowd erupted into cheers, according to Politico. “Love me some Chick fil-A. So we’ll go there, Jason, on the way, OK?”
Palin later posted a photo of her and husband Todd holding Chick-fil-A bags loaded with food.
Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum also stood by the restaurant’s side this weekend, tweeting Saturday that he was “fueling up” at Chick-fil-A before the Cruz rally.
Nearly half a million people have signed on to eat at the fast-food chain Wednesday after conservative commentator Mike Huckabee declared Aug. 1 “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”
“Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick fil-A,” Huckabee wrote on the Facebook page for his event, which now has more than 457,000 people attending.
But while conservatives stand firmly behind Chick-fil-A, some Democratic mayors have denounced the anti-gay stance that the restaurant has taken. Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray added his city to the growing list of locations where the restaurant might no longer find a friendly crowd. In a tweet Friday, Gray dubbed Chick-fil-A’s food “hate chicken.”
“Given my longstanding strong support for LGBT rights & marriage equality, I would not support #hatechicken,” Gray tweeted.
The mayor later added that while he does not support the restaurant, he “cannot legally bar it ” from opening in the District.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Julia Horowitz, CNN
Erin McClam, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Matt McFarland, CNN