DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – North Texans responded to the national Chick-fil-A “appreciation day.”  Thousands of in-person and drive-through diners jammed restaurants across the area.

“I believe our religious freedom is being attacked for the statement the CEO made.. I think we need to show support,” said Gabby Esquivel, who was among those crowded into and around the Chick-fil-A along North Central Expressway in Dallas.

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Cars were even backed up onto the access road.  And they were all there to support the chain after its CEO, Dan Cathy, recently affirmed his Christian belief in traditional marriage as being one man and one woman. Gay activists criticized it and threaten a “kiss-in protest” Friday.   Chick-fil-A fans moved first today, like Carla Herrera, who was buying food for seven co-workers in Mesquite.

“I think for certain people they are going to take it the wrong way like they do now but like I said I support him 100%,” Herrera said.

From Fort Worth, Frisco and Rockwall, similar stories came in.   In Mesquite, traffic at the Town East Mall location wound all the way out to the interstate before police put a Christmas shopping traffic plan into place to keep traffic on mall property.  Alma Dumas came because of a text from her church youth group.

“I declare that I am going to follow the beliefs of the Bible, so I came here to support it,” she told CBS 11 News.

Chick Fil A at Central Expressway and Southwestern Blvd. in Dallas (Mike Kinney/CBSDFW

Most professed their motive was following Christian teachings, like Clark Boone.

“We depend on the Lord to show us what to do and how to act and how to live,” Boone said.

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But critics in the gay community say marriage is about equality.   Jo Hudson, senior pastor at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, weighed in.

“We are citizens of the United States. We are tax paying citizens. We are law-abiding citizens and should be afforded all the equal rights guaranteed to us by our constitution,” Hudson said.

Chick-fil-A patron Betsy Williams only partially agrees.

“I feel they should have rights and all the privileges we have but I do believe the Bible says we are to be one man/one woman in marriage,” Williams said.

She brought her three sons with her to Mesquite to participate.

“And I think I’m showing them that when you have that in your heart, it’s something you should follow,” Williams said adding, “Chick-fil-A made a stand for God and things we believe are right and we want to support them.”

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