You’ve likely heard that Joe Moreno has promised to use aldermanic privilege to block Chick-fil-A from opening a store on North Elston in Logan Square, for which the company has already obtained zoning but still requires council approval. He’s not the only pol to respond to the company CEO Dan Cathy’s opposition to gay marriage; Boston mayor Thomas Menino has flexed his muscles towards the Bibically-inspired chicken-sandwich titans: “If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies.”
Moreno is no less bold:
Moreno stated his position in strong terms, referring to Cathy’s “bigoted, homophobic comments” in a proposed opinion page piece that an aide also sent to Tribune reporters. “Because of this man’s ignorance, I will now be denying Chick-fil-A’s permit to open a restaurant in the 1st Ward.”
And he’s got the “ideological” support of the mayor:
“Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” the mayor said in a statement when asked about Moreno’s decision. “They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty.”
Cathy has doubled down on his comments; if it makes you feel any better, he doesn’t much like divorcees, either: “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives.” Though it is worth noting that, despite its reputation for chicken, Chick-fil-A does serve breakfast sandwiches forbidden in Leviticus because delicious swine does not cheweth up the cud.
But Chick-Fil-A’s conservative stance is well known; its charitable arm, WinShape, has given money to and partnered with a host of moralistic groups, including the ridiculous Family Research Council. (The bulk of its donations have gone to the Marriage and Family Foundation, which does not seem to be explicitly anti-gay-marriage; in its charter, it pledges to, among other things, “identify, exhort, train, and mobilize recognizable, talented, and winsome messengers for marriage.” Be forewarned if you object to exhorting the winsome. I can’t stand the winsome myself; they cannot be trusted.)
The timing of Moreno’s announcement has inspired complaints, as it seems to have as much to do with Cathy’s comments as the policies of Chick-Fil-A—here’s a good rundown on those—and its philanthropic acts. At Grub Street, Michael Gebert argues against holding the views of a company’s CEO against the company itself:
[I]f anybody ought to be reluctant to give the city power to discriminate in the name of anti-discrimination, it’s gays. Urban machines have always used this kind of power to harass and ghettoize openly gay businesses, which remain confined to a few neighborhoods in the city even though one assumes that there are plenty of gays who shop and work in the Magnificent Mile, say.
[H]ow fair is it to single out Chik-fil-A when other businesses in his ward are surely run by owners who oppose gay marriage? (Will Moreno evict Domino’s from the 1st Ward because of owner Tom Monaghan’s well-known stance against abortion? Where does it end?)
Well, Monaghan did sell Domino’s in 1998, so Wicker Park will probably remain safe, insofar as having access to Domino’s Pizza is desirable. But it’s a good example of the pitfalls of blocking businesses based on the beliefs of their owners.
Semi-Related: the cultural purpose of chain restaurants.
Photograph: hectorir (CC by 2.0)