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Emanuel goes after Chick-fil-A for boss’ anti-gay views

This Thursday July 19 2012 phoshows Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant Atlanta. Gay rights advocates were surprised Thursday thpresident Atlanta-based chahas

This Thursday, July 19, 2012 photo shows a Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant in Atlanta. Gay rights advocates were surprised Thursday that the president of the Atlanta-based chain has taken a public position against same-sex marriage. Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy said this week that his privately owned company is "guilty as charged" in support of what he called the biblical definition of the family unit. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

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Updated: August 27, 2012 11:09AM



The anti-gay views openly espoused by the president of a fast food chain specializing in chicken sandwiches have run afoul of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a local alderman, who are determined to block Chick-fil-A from expanding in Chicago.

“Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values,” Emanuel said Wednesday.

“What the CEO has said as it relates to gay marriage and gay couples is not what I believe, but more importantly, it’s not what the people of Chicago believe. We just passed legislation as it relates to civil union and my goal and my hope … is that we now move on recognizing gay marriage. I do not believe that the CEO’s comments … reflects who we are as a city.”

Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) is using the same argument to block Chick-fil-A from opening its first free-standing restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.

Chick-fil-A already has one Chicago store — at 30 E. Chicago near Loyola University’s downtown campus.

“Same sex marriage, same-sex couples — that’s the civil rights fight of our time. To have those discriminatory policies from the top down is just not something that we’re open to. …We want responsible businesses,” Moreno said.

“If he’s in the business of selling chicken in Chicago, he should be in the business of having equal rights for everyone. Period …. If it looks like a chicken, talks like a chicken, walks like a chicken, it’s a chicken. If you’re saying you don’t respect the values and rights of same-sex couples, that trickles down through the organization. … That’s paramount to the way the company behaves.”

Don Perry, vice president of corporate public relations for Chick-fil-A, and senior manager Jerry Johnston could not be reached for comment on the opposition from the mayor and Moreno.

Chick-fil-A has already obtained zoning approval to build a restaurant in the 2500 block of North Elston. But, the company still needs City Council approval to divide the land and purchase a lot near Home Depot.

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy was quoted last week as saying he was “guilty as charged” for supporting, what he called the “biblical definition” of marriage as between a man and a woman.

“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,” Cathy was quoted as saying.

Appearing on the Ken Coleman Show, Cathy was further quoted as saying, “I think we’re inviting God’s judgment when we shake our fist at him, you know, [saying], ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ And I pray on God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try and redefine what marriage is all about.”

Cathy’s comments have infuriated gay rights activists across the nation, prompting their political allies to take a stand against the company.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has said Chick-fil-A “doesn’t belong in Boston” because of Cathy’s discriminatory stance.

On Wednesday, the tag team of Emanuel and Moreno joined the chorus, citing Cathy’s anti-gay views. The only question is whether they have a legal leg to stand on.

“Absolutely not,” said former Ald. William Banks (36th), the longtime chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee who presided over a massive re-write of the city’s 1957 zoning ordinance.

“Any alderman can hold a development issue for virtually any purpose. But if he’s doing it for the wrong reasons — if he’s citing a gay rights issue — there’s nothing illegal about that.”

Moreno said he has an ace in his back pocket if he runs into legal trouble: traffic and congestion issues caused by the store that have been the subject of behind-the-scenes negotiations for the last nine months.



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