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Chick-fil-A aside, many firms court gays

Chick-fil-A aside, many firms court gays
Same-sex couple Juan Rivera (L) and Eric Manriquez participate in a "kiss-in" outside a Chick-fil-A restaurant, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on August 3, 2012. Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy's comments against same-sex marriage have sparked controversy on the issue. UPI/Jim Ruymen | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Corporate America, one controversial restaurant aside, is busy courting gay and lesbian customers, said an assistant business professor in California.

"Corporate America is definitely following the trends, reading the tea leaves," the Los Angeles Times quoted University of California, Los Angeles, assistant professor Jason Snyder as saying.

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"It's more symbolic of what's happening in society -- that supporting gay marriage is becoming a less risky or taboo position," said Snyder, who teaches in the Anderson School of Management.

While the same-sex marriage controversy rattles around in state legislature and dinner table debates, some brand name corporations are going out of their way to woo gay and lesbian customers.

J.C. Penney not only hired lesbian comedienne Ellen DeGeneres as its spokeswoman, it has also slipped a few photographs of same-sex partners into its sales catalogs.

The Times said nearly 40 companies, including Bank of America, offer tax relief to employees who are gay. In addition, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and his wife, Microsoft, Starbucks and Nike have all openly supported same-sex marriage legislation.

On the flip side, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in a recent online posting declared Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day to honor the owner's open stance against homosexuals.

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On Wednesday, many of the company's outlets were packed with customers supporting the anti-gay platform.

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