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Editorial: Chick-fil-A boss has right to his opinion

Chick-fil-A president Dan T. Cathy attends ground-breaking OrlPark April 2010. | Sun-Times Medifiles

Chick-fil-A president Dan T. Cathy attends a ground-breaking in Orland Park in April 2010. | Sun-Times Media files

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Updated: August 27, 2012 11:15AM

Ald. Joe Moreno wants to stop a fast-food chain, Chick-fil-A, from opening a restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood because he doesn’t like the company president’s opposition to gay marriage.

Moreno — and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who’s thinking along the same lines — should back off. Government has no business withholding zoning permits and licenses just because it objects to a businessman’s religious or political views.

If the residents of Moreno’s 1st Ward are offended by those anti-gay views, they can choose to eat elsewhere. They might even organize a boycott. Chick-fil-A will get the message.

Moreno has accused the company’s president, Dan Cathy, of making “bigoted, homophobic comments.” In a recent media interview, Cathy warned that “we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation” when we fail to support the “biblical definition of marriage.” Cathy also has given money to groups working against legalized gay marriage.

Chicago is a proudly gay-friendly town, and Moreno no doubt speaks for many Chicaogans when he says he’s offended by Cathy’s views. But where in the First Amendment does it say that Cathy is free to speak his mind only as long as Moreno agrees with him?

If and when Chick-fil-A discriminates against a gay customer or employee, that violation of the law — and not Cathy’s personal views — would be grounds for the city coming down hard.

Cathy is upfront in his views on gay marriage, and for that his restaurants will no doubt gain and lose customers and business associates, as it should be. Jim Henson Co. recently cancelled a deal to create Muppet characters for the chain’s kid meals and instead made a donation to a gay rights group.

But it’s an entirely different matter for government to put on the squeeze.

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