The organizer of a large picnic event designed to help unify Republican leaders and supporters in Connecticut next Saturday canceled his plans to serve 100 Chick-fil-A sandwiches after deciding the controversy over the restaurant owner's stand against same-sex marriage might become a distraction.
"It was never about gay marriage," Mitch Beck told the Connecticut Post in a phone interview. He said the controversy surrounding the gay activists' vocal opposition against Chick-fil-A was "threatening to overtake the importance of the event," the Post wrote.
Beck, an executive recruiter, said he ordered 100 sandwiches from the nearest Chick-fil-A franchise (in New Jersey across the states' line) as a show of support for management's First Amendment rights of free speech.
The event is aimed at helping Republicans, including 30 political candidates, network with each other and to grow the party's presence in the state.
Chick-fil-A was pulled into the national debate regarding gay marriage after its president, Dan Cathy, a devout Christian, confirmed the company's commitment to the traditional family unit and said that same-sex marriage was bringing God's judgment on the nation.
Apparently, because same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Beck reconsidered his decision, according to the Post. He plans to give 90 of the sandwiches to a homeless shelter and keep 10 for "event staff to taste."
Getting back on the GOP message, Beck was quoted by the Connecticut Post as saying, "Right now the country is trying to decide whether it wants a European-style socialism, or a capitalist society. It's that stark and that's why it's so important. The state is primed for change."
In a statement issued late Friday, Democratic State Central Committee Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo seized the opportunity to ridicule the decision by the host of the Republican event to not serve Chick-fil-A. Also, she framed the debate as a civil rights issue as many supporters of same-sex marriage have done.
"While the Republicans gather together to celebrate their unity and discuss issues like whether or not to serve Chick-fil-A for lunch, Democrats across the state are talking to voters about the issues that matter to them: jobs, education and health care," DiNardo said.
"The largest Republican event to date this election season has focused on their squabble over chicken and if they can strut alongside those who want to rollback decades of civil rights advances," she said, as reported by the Connecticut Post. "Surely those in elected positions in our government could use the time for more constructive things than the logistics of purchasing food in New Jersey for an event in Connecticut."
Chick-fil-A released a statement earlier this month, saying its culture and tradition are about treating "every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."
The company still faces hurdles on college campuses as some consider banning the famous chicken sandwiches. Davidson College in North Carolina suspended Chick-fil-A from campus events.