(Photo: The Christian Post)
Nearly 16,000 people have signed a petition to pressure New York University to remove "anti-gay" Chick-fil-A from its campus.
As of Wednesday – which happens to be Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day – 15,664 people have signed the petition on change.org to the NYU president as well as eleven other school officials urging them to remove Chick-fil-A from the cafeteria at one of the dorms.
Among the charges against the fast food chain is that its charitable arm WinShape Foundation has donated nearly $2 million to "anti-gay" groups in 2009. These so-called "anti-gay" groups include Focus on the Family, Exodus International, and the Family Research Council. All three of these Christian groups have vehemently rejected the label of anti-gay, but they are labeled as such because they do not support same-sex marriage.
"NYU prides itself on being a diverse, open and inclusive campus community. That's one of the major reasons why I enrolled at NYU as a freshman last fall," said petition creator Hillary Dworkoski on the change.org page. "Unfortunately, maintaining a contract with an anti-gay vendor like Chick-fil-A undermines what makes this university so great."
Chick-fil-A was pulled into the eye of the storm 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.
On the syndicated radio program "Ken Coleman show" on June 16, Cathy said, " I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.'"
"And I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about."
Mike Huckabee, former Republican presidential candidate and now Fox News host, and Billy Graham are among the famous Christian leaders who have spoken out in support of Cathy and the traditional definition of marriage. Some 640,000 people have pledged to go to a Chick-fil-A restaurant today to support the Cathys and traditional marriage.
But others, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, have criticized Cathy for expressing his personal views on marriage and have threatened to block the business from expanding in their territories.
However, the ACLU, a legal group that supports same-sex marriage, doesn't agree with the elected officials.
"The government can regulate discrimination in employment or against customers, but what the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words," Adam Schwartz, senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, told Fox News. "When an alderman refuses to allow a business to open because its owner has expressed a viewpoint the government disagrees with, the government is practicing viewpoint discrimination."
As for NYU, its Student Senators Council voted in 2011 not to close down the Chick-fil-A on the campus because "to ban any entity from campus for ideological reasons is, in most every case, to limit freedom of expression." However, they decided the school could remove vendors that violated human or labor rights. The creator of the NYU-Chick-fil-A change.org petition cited Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent remark that "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights" as support for removing Chick-fil-A from the campus for violating human rights because the company's owners do not support gay marriage.
And just this past weekend, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who may run for mayor, used an official letterhead to write a letter to New York University President John Sexton to urge the school to remove Chick-fil-A immediately from campus.
"I write as the Speaker of the NYC Council, and on behalf of my family. NYC is a place where we celebrate diversity. We do not believe in denigrating others. We revel in the diversity of all our citizens and their families," the letter begins, according to Fox News.
"As such I urge you to sever your relationship with the Chick‐fil‐A establishment that exists on your campus."
After city council members protested that Quinn did not speak for them and cannot invoke her title as speaker of NYC Council to speak on their behalf, she has backtracked and her spokesperson says she only expressed her own opinion.
"Christine Quinn was simply voicing her own opinion; she fully understands that Mr. Cathy has the right to say and donate to anything he wants. But she has the right to use her voice just as much as he does," a Quinn spokesperson said.
NYU spokesman John Beckman told FoxNews.com that school officials plan to ask the University Senate to revisit the Chick-fil-A's status on campus in the fall and make recommendations on what to do given the recent requests for review.
This is not the first time Chick-fil-A has been threatened to be evicted from a college campus over its marriage stance. Last year, Indiana University South Bend suspended Chick-fil-A over its position on marriage, but allowed it to come back after two weeks.