LGBT community to protest Chick-Fil-A's "Cow Appreciation Day"


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Moo for equality.

That's what local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender supporters say they'll do at 7 p.m. today, when they show up at the Coral Ridge Mall Chick-Fil-A dressed as cows with rainbow accessories to demonstrate their support of LGBT equality.

Today is Chick-Fil-A's annual "Cow Appreciation Day," where anyone dressed as a cow can receive a free meal.

The demonstrators are meeting in peaceful protest in reaction to Chick-Fil-A's publicized support of organizations with anti-gay-marriage stances. A Chick-Fil-A representative said the event and restaurant is open to all people.

Mark Baldwin, a senior public-relations consultant for Chick-Fil-A, said anyone is welcome to participate in the day's celebrations.

"What you see on TV [and in the media] is not the real [Chick-Fil-A]," Baldwin said. "Anyone who wants to come in and explore what Chick-Fil-A is all about is welcome."

According to equalitymatters.org's analysis of Chick-Fil-A's charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation gave almost $2 million to various groups in 2010, including the Marriage and Family Foundation, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

The local gathering will be led by Jennifer Miller, an Iowa City resident and member of the I.C. Kings, a local drag king troupe.

"It is hypocritical to have a business that pipes its money into anti-gay groups when we as a state have declared gay-marriage legal," she said.

Miller was inspired to create the Facebook event "Chick-Fil-A Gay Cow Appreciation Day" after she saw another planned in a different part of the country.

Baldwin said this is the eighth year Chick-Fil-A has acknowledged "Cow Appreciation Day."

Nationwide, the fast-food chain expects more than 1 million people to participate.

Julia Schaefer, the owner of the Tool Box, an LGBT friendly store in Iowa City, believes the demonstration is a good idea.

"I am married to a woman, and I want everyone to have the same rights as me," she said. "It is unfortunate that there are businesses that are against that."

Through the Facebook event, Miller invites any supporters to meet at her home at 5:30 p.m., where she will provide spots, ears, and tails to help people complete their costumes.

"We fully intend to have a peaceful event and only a visual presence," Miller said. "I don't expect any opposition."

The general manager's office for the Coral Ridge Mall declined to comment but said officials were not aware of the demonstration.

Miller said 40 people have responded to the event, and even if only 20 people attend, it will be impressive.

While Miller is not expecting any opposition to the group's peaceful demonstration, she still has a plan.

"If it comes to security telling us we have to leave, we might just moo, and then go back to my place, and celebrate," she said.

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