Chick-fil-A coming to Brigham Young University
Politics • BYU says addition is about fried chicken, not gay marriage.
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Brigham Young University will add a Chick-fil-A franchise to its food court.

The school is owned by the Mormon church, which, like the fast food chain, has drawn fire in recent years for its opposition to gay marriage.

A school spokesman, though, said the choice was far from political.

"This decision was based entirely on the student and employee feedback from the surveys and polling," said Todd Hollingshead. "It was the overwhelming favorite, in fact. People like the food."

The eatery will replace a Tomassito's restaurant in Cougareats, the school's main food court, joining a Taco Bell, Subway, Scoreboard Grill and others. After some remodeling, it's expected to open in the fall.

The school's gay-straight alliance club, Understanding Same-Gender Attraction, isn't planning any protests or boycotts, said outreach manager Nathan Paskett. The club doesn't generally take political positions.

"It's up to each individual person how they feel about that," he said. "Some people who attend won't eat there, but I suspect that the majority of the people, they won't care. It's just delicious fried chicken."

For himself, Paskett said he would eat there "if it was more healthy ... I try to avoid fast food."

Chick-fil-A sparked protests and counter-protests around the country last year after its president, Dan Cathy, took a public position against gay marriage in a Baptist newspaper. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, meanwhile, dealt with a firestorm due to its large role in the passage of Proposition 8, a 2008 law that outlawed same-sex unions in California.

But the church has softened its stance since then, and Paskett said that's also true at the university.

"There's going to be people who think this has to do with gay rights, but I'm absolutely sure it has to do with money and what's the best fit for BYU," he said. "I think it's unfortunate if it casts BYU as a place that's hostile to LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people. Every day it's getting better to be gay at BYU."

lwhitehurst@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lwhitehurst