August 4, 2012 at 7:04 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Protesters take part in “kiss-in” outside Silver Spring Chick-fil-A
Gay News, Washington Blade, Chick-fil-A

William Poe and Chris Corbin kiss outside the downtown Silver Spring Chick-fil-A (Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Roughly 15 people gathered in front of the downtown Silver Spring Chick-fil-A on Friday to take part in a “kiss-in” protest against the restaurant chain after its owner spoke out against marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“Gay people are asking for the same rights as heterosexuals, just like black and white couples were asking for the same rights for same-race couples in the 60s,” said Silver Spring resident William Poe after he kissed Chris Corbin. “I just don’t see the difference.”

Takoma Park resident Kathryn Wilderotter noted Chick-fil-A’s support of Exodus International and other anti-LGBT groups and causes through its charitable foundation as she stood alongside Linda Cole, whom she married in Canada in 2004. “I completely support their freedom of speech and I completely support their freedom of religion,” said Wilderotter. “What I’m against is the pray away the gay therapy — any type of conversion therapy, any type of killing gays.”

The Silver Spring protest was one of dozens of “kiss-ins” that took place across the country in response to Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s controversial comments against nuptials for gays and lesbians during an interview with the Baptist Press last month.

The Human Rights Campaign organized a protest in front of a Chick-fil-A food truck in downtown D.C. on July 26. A handful of picketers also gathered outside the Crystal City Chick-fil-A on Wednesday during the “Chick-fil-A Customer Appreciation Day” that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum and other prominent social conservatives endorsed.

LGBT rights groups and protest organizers have faced increased criticism over their response to Cathy’s comments, but those who gathered outside the Silver Spring Chick-fil-A remained undeterred.

“Speaking your mind and speaking your peace and showing what your beliefs are is always effective,” said Wilderotter. “It certainly was effective for Dan Cathy; it’s certainly effective for us.”

Cole agreed.

“It’s just a good statement to make that Chick-fil-A cannot spend their dollars on organizations that are essentially hate-driven,” she said. “You can’t do that. We’re here in opposition to that.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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