Top Mitt Romney surrogate and potential vice presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty came to Chick-fil-A’s defense during a Romney campaign event in Cary, North Carolina on Saturday, bragging to a small group of supporters that he ate lunch at the fast-food franchise, which refuses to offer any employment protections to LGBT employees and has donated millions of dollars to ex-gay ministries.
Activists and lawmakers from across the country are protesting the company after its president condemned homosexuality in a recent radio interview. Conservatives have responded to the backlash by holding “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” in support of the company. From the event:
At an ice rink in Cary, NC Tim Pawlenty said he ate Chick-Fil-A for lunch “chicken strips and waffle fries.”
— Shushannah Walshe (@shushwalshe) July 28, 2012
TPaw, at NC event for Romney, says he had lunch at Chick-Fil-A today. “It’s chilling!” he says of cities objecting to biz over marriage
— Carrie Dann (@CarrieNBCNews) July 28, 2012
Pawlenty has a complicated history on gay rights. In 1993, he Pawlenty voted to extend protection to gays and lesbians under the state Human Rights Act, effectively banning discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation as well as race, religion, ethnicity and physical or mental disability, but later seemed to regret his vote. In July of 2011, Pawlenty claimed that the science is still “in dispute” over whether people are born gay.
Romney has previously said that he supports equal rights in employment, although he has publicly backed away from a federal law that would prohibit businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.