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Saying no to hate: San Diegans stage kiss-in to protest Chick-fil-A | UPDATED

SAN DIEGO – Guys kissed guys and girls kissed girls outside the Chick-fil-A fast-food restaurants in San Diego and Oceanside on Friday afternoon in protest of the chain’s donations of millions of dollars to anti-gay causes.

The kiss-in, part of many demonstrations held Friday across the U.S., follows a Chick-fil-A “appreciation day” called Wednesday by anti-gay figures like Mike Huckabee and supported by the likes of Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum. The chain said Wednesday set a sales record, but declined to release figures.

Locally, Canvass For A Cause led the protest effort at the Chick-fil-A at 3570 Sports Arena Blvd. in San Diego and at 3475 Marron Road in Oceanside.

About 75 people rallied in at the Point Loma location. After brief speeches and the reading of a poem by Jose Medina of SAME, organizers at the San Diego location opened a kissing booth that was to be open until 5:30 pm.

Mitchel Sterling said he is inspired by all the people here wanting to stop the hate.

The Point Loma restaurant was half-full, a far cry from Wednesday’s “appreciation day” that somehow got framed into a First Amendment “free speech” issue. Gay activists and their allies said that nobody is asking Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy to stop speaking out against marriage equality, but to stop using corporate profits to help fund anti-gay causes that are leading to the deaths of LGBT people around the world.

Some customers on Friday afternoon looked baffled or annoyed by the protest.

San Diego police arrived around 20 minutes into the protest, moving people out of parking spaces that they were occupying. People peacefully complied with police requests.

The gathering began to chant and sing, Occupy-style.

An organizer for Canvass for a Cause, who only gave his name as Paulie, said the group decided to join in the national protest because this is more than about marriage and all about the social and political persecution that still happens around the world.

A Chick-fil-A manager walked out with a customer, laughing, and was heard saying: “Don’t worry, this isn’t our event. It’s just some protest.”

A restaurant worker walked outside and asked people to stay on the sidewalk so “no one gets hurt.”

About 5:20 pm, a group of protestors gathered at the end of the drive-through to hold up signs to customers as they drove past.

Three counter-protestors showed up about 40 minutes late, stirring passions. At least five police officers moved in, surrounding the three men holding up hate signs.