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Gay rights group set to protest at local Chick-fil-A

It's round two on Friday in the debate involving Chick-fil-A restaurants.

On Wednesday, thousands of people swamped the restaurant chain's Phoenix-area locations to show support. Chick-fil-A has come under fire over CEO Dan Cathy's recent comments that he does not support same-sex marriage.

On Friday, members of the gay community are planning a protest outside of the Paradise Valley location near Cactus Road and Tatum Boulevard.

"They fund organizations that want to treat us as second-class citizens, they fund organizations that have promoted the Ugandan Kill the Gays bill," said Erica Keppler of the Human Equal Rights Organization, or H.E.R.O. "There's blood on Dan Cathy's hands. As a corporation, they are major financiers of LGBT hate."

Keppler said the 6:30 p.m. protest will be peaceful. The protesters will be on a public sidewalk along Tatum Boulevard in front of the restaurant.

As for whether they will engage in a "kiss-in," Keppler said, "We will see how that goes. I don't know how many people want to be involved in that, so I hesitate to describe it with that term."

Keppler said H.E.R.O. does not plan to hold any part of the protest inside the restaurant, but said, "I can't guarantee what individuals are going to do."

According to Keppler, Friday's protest has nothing to do with Cathy's right to his opinion about same-sex marriage.

"People are under the false impression that, somehow, we are standing in opposition of his right to express his opinion, and that is not the case," she said. "We are standing up and saying that when you buy a chicken sandwich at Chick-fil-A, you are financing hate."

Keppler said that it's where Cathy puts the company's money that has upset many people.

"If he were giving money to the Ku Klux Klan, the African-American community wouldn't put up with it," she said. "If he were giving money to neo-Nazis, the Jewish-American community wouldn't put up with it. If he is giving money to hate groups that try to deprive us of our rights, we shouldn't have to put up with it."

Keppler went on to say that the LBGT community has a right to speak out as well.

"We were willing to stand up and advocate for our own rights and our own humanity," she said.

"We're not just going to be quietly pushed back into a closet. That is no longer an acceptable way to live, and we're not going to tolerate that. This is an advocacy of our humanity, against a cause that tries to take our humanity away from us."

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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