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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.”