Chick-fil-A gay marriage controversy intensifies on both sides

NEW YORK (CNN) - The grand opening of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Laguna Hills, California, was met with protest -- gay rights supporters calling for boycotts after the president of the chicken restaurant chain said he opposed same-sex marriage.

"Those kind of messages and that kind of rhetoric is very, very hurtful to our families," said one protester.

Chicago and Boston are among the cities to yank the welcome mat.

"Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago values," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "They are not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members."

Mayor Emanuel, a democrat, echoed sentiments of a city official who'd threatened to block construction of a Chick-fil-A restaurant.

The chain has become a lightning rod for controversy after its president, Dan Cathy, made it clear he believes marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

In a June 16 interview with the Ken Coleman Show, a syndicated radio program, 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'."

Chick-fil-A says the company has always applied Biblically-based principles and it is closed on Sundays. It declined to comment on vows to block their restaurants saying in a statement, "The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender."

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, also a democrat, isn't sold, though, repeating his message to the chain to stay away.

"I don't want an individual who will continue to advocate against people's rights. That's who I am, and that's what Boston's all about."

US Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is also among those who disagree with the executive's remarks.

"Boston is a very business-friendly city," said Sen. Brown. "I don't agree with what the CEOs from Chick-fil-A said and the fact that we have laws against discrimination - and not only discrimination against employees, but also patrons - I'm sure that the mayor and the boards approving any restaurants in Boston, in particular, will do the right thing to make sure that those laws are adhered to."

But can politicians block businesses because of the words of a company president? Lawyers say they have no legal ground to stand on. One Christian radio host even calls it disturbing.

"It seems to me these are bullying tactics," said Larry Alex Taunton, author of "The Grace Effect." "Diversity is celebrated, provided that you are towing the line of the radial left."

Mayor Menino later backtracked somewhat, saying he would not stand in the company's way if it applies for a permit.

Also supporting the restaurant chain is former presidential candidate Rick Santorum along with fellow Republican Mike Huckabee who is calling for a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day next week. On the other side, some gay rights advocates are organizing a national kiss-in to protest Chick-fil-A.

Click here for more on an Arkansas group encouraging participation in Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.