A Chicago alderman is threatening to block Chick-fil-A's plan to build a restaurant in his ward because the fast-food chain's top executive opposes gay marriage.
"There are consequences for one's actions, statements and beliefs. Because of this man's ignorance, I will deny Chick-fil-A a permit to open a restaurant in my ward," Alderman "Joe" Moreno said in an article in Chicago Tribune on Thursday.
Moreno wrote that initially he had some traffic concerns with Chick-fil-A's plan to buy a piece of land from Home Depot in the 2500 block of North Elston Avenue, but then "I heard the bigoted, homophobic comments by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, who recently came out against same-sex marriage."
He says his concerns were also based on financial contributions made by WinShape Foundation, Chick-fil-A's charitable endeavor, to anti-gay groups.
The alderman has the ideological support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values," the Tribune quoted the mayor as saying. "They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty."
Moreno referred to Cathy's recent interview with the Biblical Recorder, where he was asked about the opposition the company has been seeing for its support of the traditional family. "Well, guilty as charged," Cathy told the Recorder. "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. We give God thanks for that."
Moreno said Cathy has the right to believe, say and give money to whatever cause he wants, "but my belief in equality is resolute, and if I were to take the easy way out and turn a blind eye to his remarks, I would be turning my back on the principles I stand for."
The alderman said he represents "a diverse, forward-thinking community, and I'm sure the majority of 1st Warders find Cathy's comments and attitude repugnant. Even if I did give Chick-fil-A the go-ahead, I suspect many in my community wouldn't spend their dollars there."
The fast-food chain has denied that it discriminates against any group of people. It assured it strives to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender." However, Moreno called that "worthless lip service."
"They have nothing on the books that says they do not discriminate and they are open to everyone," Moreno told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "I want to see that policy before they go forward."
As per a tradition in Chicago, City Council members listen to the opinion of the ward alderman on local issues. Last year, Moreno was able to block plans for a Wal-Mart in his ward.
Moreno says he doesn't fear being sued. There are well-documented traffic and congestion issues in the Logan Square neighborhood that he could raise to justify his decision, he was quoted as saying.
Besides, gay activists and supporters are urging people to boycott the chicken sandwich restaurant because of Cathy's "hateful" remarks.
In response, Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate, has rallied his radio listeners to come out in support of Chick-fil-A on Aug. 1. Supporters of traditional marriage and fans of Chick-fil-A are expected to head to their nearest chain restaurant to encourage Cathy.