August 2, 2012 at 1:07 pm EDT | by Michael Key
Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day draws customers and protesters

Picketers stood outside of the Chick-fil-A in Crystal City, Va. as a line of customers stretched out along the sidewalk. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Hundreds of customers and supporters of “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” lined up to eat at the Crystal City fast-food restaurant on Wednesday afternoon.

A small group of picketers stood outside the establishment passing out leaflets encouraging customers to boycott Chick-fil-A because of the chain’s ties to anti-gay groups.

The picketers, organized by Arlington consultant Seth Morrison, engaged a few pedestrians along the bustling sidewalk in conversation and encouraged them to look closely at the groups that Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, financially supports. These groups include the anti-gay Family Research Council and the “ex-gay” organization Exodus International.

“This is a boycott that could appeal to everybody. It’s not a left-wing or a right-wing political statement. It is a statement that says, ‘stop hate,'” Morrison said.

At no point were any voices raised on either side.

Despite the well-mannered picket line, a steady stream of customers filed into a long line stretching outside the restaurant and onto the sidewalk.

“I’m here to support free speech and traditional marriage,” said one customer, who declined to give her name for fear of hate mail. Others next to her in line nodded in agreement.

A large line of customers formed stretching outside of the restaurant onto the sidewalk. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Commentator and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had asked his supporters to “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 on Wednesday, Aug. 1.” Other prominent social conservatives, such as former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, spoke in support of the event.

Michael Key has worked as a photojournalist for the Washington Blade since 2009 and is currently serving as the photo editor. He has worked on Capitol Hill, in the White House, on the campaign trail and in cities along the East Coast taking iconic photos documenting the extension of marriage benefits to same-sex couples, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and other events of interest to the LGBT community. Follow Michael

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