Protestors, Supporters Flock to Local Chick-Fil-A Restaurants

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Former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee started a Facebook initiative declaring today "Chick-fil-A  Appreciation Day."

Thousands of people in Arkansas and across the country waited in long lines pledging their support to the company president's public stance against same-sex

Northwest Arkansas Mall

marriage. The movement has also sparked backlash from gay-rights activists. Both sides were out Wednesday to express their freedom of speech. Long lines formed at Chick-fil-A's in Fort Smith, Fayetteville and Bentonville.

“...To take a stand, not necessarily against homosexuals, but for what I believe the Bible to say about this issue," said supporter Chuck Miller.

"We had to wait like thirty minutes to get on this street here," Miller added.

Police officers in Fort Smith and Bentonville controlled traffic as crowds packed parking lots.

"I came out here to support my First Amendment right,” said supporter Paul Lawrence. “This is not about a traditional marriage, even though I agree with that."

It's a controversy that recently sparked after the president of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, expressed support for the biblical definition of a family. Politicians took notice, and word of Cathy's statement spread.

Fort Smith

"We're here to show our support for the gay community. We know that Chick-fil-A has come out in open opposition to gay marriage," Erin Fowler said.

Protesters held signs supporting not only gay rights, but human rights.

"There's been mixed reaction,” she said. “We've had a lot of honks, a lot of peace signs, a lot of thumbs up. We have had some middle fingers and some expletives, but we're strong and we're here to support equality."

And whether you support same-sex marriage or not, most at the chain restaurant told 5NEWS they were there to exercise their freedom of speech.

"Standing up for freedom, so go freedom!" said Lawrence.

Although Chick-fil-A's business may both benefit and suffer this week, the company leaders say Wednesday’s appreciation day was not their idea.

Same sex-couples are planning a counter-event Friday. They'll head to Chick-fil-A’s nationwide for a "kiss-in.”