ATLANTA - These days, there's a lot of beef over Chick-fil-A.
But the strong, sudden outpouring of both support and criticism has nothing to do with chicken. It surrounds the company's stance on gay marriage.
It's been more than a week since Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy spoke out in support of the "traditional family" during an interview with Baptist Press. He said the company operates on "biblical principals," including their belief on marriage. Many have taken those comments to express an anti-gay sentiment.
Since then, thousands of people nationwide have been lighting up social media to voice either support or opposition. On Chick-fil-A's Facebook page, some praise the restaurant chain for standing up for their values, while others vow to never eat their chicken again.
Political leaders are weighing in, too.
Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum joined fellow Republican Mike Huckabee in calling for "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day." The former Arkansas governor created a Facebook event, urging everyone to eat at Chick-fil-A on August 1st. By Wednesday evening, there were more than 164,000 confirmed attendees.
Sparks are flying on Twitter, too. Actor Ed Helms tweeted that the company "lost a loyal fan" because of its stance on gay marriage.
As for the chain itself, several statements posted on Chick-fil-A's Facebook page thank customers for their support. On July 19th, the company posted a statement highlighting their commitment to treat "every customer with dignity and respect - regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."
On Twitter, the company seemed to bow out of the conversation, tweeting: "Our mission is to create raving fans. We plan to leave the policy debate over same sex marriage to the political arena."