(Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)
HOOVER, Ala. – Gay marriage activists and their supporters plan to consume more than their daily allowance of caffeine on Tuesday by visiting their local Starbucks in an effort to challenge last week's "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" that was staged by pro-family supporters to demonstrate their support for the company's stance on traditional marriage.
Tuesday's event is being dubbed as "National Marriage Equality Day" and Starbucks was chosen because they offer benefits to the partners of same-sex relationships.
Last week's mass support of the Atlanta based fast-food chain was the brainchild of former Arkansas Gov. and Fox News host Mike Huckabee. After gay activists jumped on comments made by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy that he and the company were "guilty as charged" for supporting traditional marriage, Huckabee recommended that people who support pro-family values support the restaurant with their patronage. And support it they did with tens of thousands of people coming out to back the effort.
Rick Melanson, 69, a semi-retired engineer and former marathon runner is a regular, early-morning customer at the Starbucks on Highway 31 in Hoover, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham. Surveying the mid-morning crowd, Melanson said the day's activity was about the same as every other weekday morning.
"Actually, I had no idea anything special was going on today," he said. "I'm here around 5:45 each morning so I recognize most everyone who is through here on a consistent basis. I don't see anything unique about this Tuesday morning. Sort of looks the same to me."
However, Melanson said he knew nothing of last Tuesday's Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day either until he found himself in the restaurant's crowded drive-thru and noticed the inside was "wall-to-wall" too.
"My wife needed to get something to eat so we decided to run by Chick-fil-A quickly," said Melanson. "We ended up staying in line but it took a lot longer than we expected. I definitely noticed there were a lot more people there than I've ever seen before."
Supporters of gay marriage attempted to counter the event by holding what they described as a "same-sex kiss-in," but the event went largely unnoticed.
The Starbucks event on Tuesday began last week as homosexual activists sent thousands of emails encouraging the LGBT crowd to their local Seattle-based coffee chain. According to various news reports, over 28,000 have committed to participate; a number far lower than those who visited Chick-fil-A last Tuesday.
The involvement of corporations and their executives in social issues has become a topic of much debate in recent weeks. In fact, the number of "special" and promotional days advanced by Starbucks has some asking if the coffee chain is engaging social activists as simply a way to grow their business.
Starbucks executive vice president Kalen Holmes disputed that charge in a memo to Starbucks employees, instead saying that the legalization of same-sex marriage is "aligned with Starbucks business practices and upholds our belief in the equal treatment of partners."
In an interview on Fox News last Friday, Huckabee seemed unfazed at the war of words being thrown about by both sides. While many supporters of gay marriage have called for another boycott of Chick-fil-A, Huckabee said he has no plans to boycott Starbucks or other firms whose products and services he uses.
"I still drink Starbucks, use my iPad and order books on Amazon."