Chick-fil-A Meets a First Amendment Buzzsaw in Chicago

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Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, is a self-described Christian businessman, who proudly runs his fast-food chain according to his own vision of Christian principles. His stores close on Sundays, for instance, and the company gives money to nonprofits that support limiting marriage to unions between a man and a woman. A couple of weeks ago, Cathy explained this in an interview with the Baptist Press. “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” he said. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

For this reason, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has urged Chick-fil-A to “back out” of its “plans to locate in Boston.” And Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says Chick-fil-A has no place in the city of 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, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Alderman Joe Moreno says he will seek to block a permit for Chick-fil-A in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. “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,” Moreno said.

No evidence has been presented to suggest that Chick-fil-A discriminates against gay or lesbian customers or employees. There is nothing to suggest that the company has broken the law in any way. In his comments to the Baptist Press, Cathy did not even mention same-sex marriage. He simply said that he and his company supported traditional marriage. The only issues at play are the personal view of the owner of the restaurant chain and the philanthropic efforts of the private company.

That puts the political leaders of Boston and Chicago in tricky legal waters. Generally speaking, governments have a responsibility to not discriminate against businesses on the basis of personal beliefs, just as restaurant chains cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of personal beliefs (or sexual orientation). “It’s very problematic,” explains Alan Weinstein, a law professor at Cleveland State University who studies municipal zoning. “The political, ideological and theological views of a person seeking the land-use permit are entirely irrelevant.” Mayors are free to speak their minds, and city councils can pass resolutions expressing their views, but a judge would almost certainly toss out any punitive action taken against the restaurant chain on such grounds, Weinstein says.

And in other contexts, the same sort of tactics would be clearly repugnant to the liberal constituencies of Menino and Emanuel. Would it be O.K. for a mayor to reject a business owned by a Muslim because the mayor was offended by the teachings of Islam? Would it be O.K. for the mayor of a coal community to deny a building permit to a newspaper that planned to write critically of the coal industry? (The Boston Globe editorial board makes a similar point here.)

Robust public disagreements over issues like the definition of marriage are a symptom of a functioning democracy, not evidence of its dysfunction. A recent poll in Massachusetts found that 30% of the state believes same-sex marriage should be illegal. In the Chicago area, 42% of residents support same-sex marriage, while the same number, 42%, oppose it. (Indeed, Emanuel’s depiction of “Chicago values” is misleading; the city is divided on the issue of marriage.) Presumably, many business owners in both states are among those who oppose same-sex marriage. Should those businessmen and women worry that their hopes for city permits or mayoral cooperation could be jeopardized if they express their opinions publicly?

Consumers have every right to patronize or boycott any restaurant they choose for any reason. But a government’s responsibility is different. It is one thing for big-city politicians to voice their own views. It is another thing for them to threaten businesses with the power of their elected office for not sharing those views.

UPDATE: Boston Mayor Menino announced on July 26 that he will not seek punitive action against Chick-fil-A. “I can’t do that. That would be interference to his rights to go there,” Menino said, referring to CEO Cathy, according to the Boston Herald. “I make mistakes all the time. That’s a Menino-ism.”

246 comments
SamSpade1
SamSpade1

I wish they had Chick-fil-a in Canada. I wonder what the franchise cost is?

Marry
Marry

like Ellen

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Jean Pierre Katz
Jean Pierre Katz

Everyone in the US has and deserves freedom of speech. Chick a fill has spoken out against gay marriage and has donated money to groups outside the US that successfully advocated for the death penalty against gay people.

Even if someone advocated for racism or Nazism, the mayor of Chicago should not tell them they are not welcome because as a government leader he is intimidating free speech.

But not everyone in the US has equal rights.

Especially in the Southern States, gays are not free from discrimination in employment, accommodation, and as there are no hate laws to protect them they need to watch their backs more.

When someone in a gay couple is dying in a hospital, their partner does not have the right to visit them.

There is no protection for children that are gay or perceived to be gay from bullying.

And of course, gays in the South never have the right to marry one another.

This is very similar to the Jim Crow regime that existed in the South before the 1960's.

It also reminds me that the Southern view of freedom in America is very much like someone in a glass house throwing stones.

Denise Parker
Denise Parker

I am all for free speech as well as balanced reporting. I am also for equal rights. What this writer did not do was research. Calling the donations made "philanthropic" was a terrible disservice to your readers. It is disinformation to the point of destroying the integrity of the article. Please set the facts straight here. I hope you are not against LGBT here. I don't see a whole lot written on that issue. We need real unbiased information sources. No bias, no bigotry.

jrolfes2
jrolfes2

Chick Fil A never had it so good. Their stores are not big enough to handle thevolume of business that this controversy hasgenerated. The mayors of Chicago and Boston are foolish begits . Nobody seems to give a damn about your  warped values. Forget that and hve a chicken sandwich, Ha Ha Ha !!!!!!!

angelfire7
angelfire7

How is it that these people can call themself true christians....First the owner of chick-fil-e, sends thousands of dollars to a hate group,that would give the death penalty to a any gays who get married,Then you got all these people who support that...what the hell is wrong with you all!!!!Gay marriage may be a sin,but so is killing another human being,and I hope you don't think you are justified....As god may put judgment on them,remember he judges you as well...So even if you did not kill them yourself,you did support the act...in gods eyes that is just as bad as doing it yourself!!!!

Alisaofs
Alisaofs

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Rick Armin
Rick Armin

This is in reply to rogerrramjet and others.  Obama is the worst president we ever had.  Before him, George Bush was the worst and before him Clinton was the worst and before him Daddy Bush, etc., etc., etc.  This happens by what I call the Law of Progression.  None of these people make any serious attempts to repeal the crimes of their predecessors.  Each just adds crimes of his own and thereby becomes the worst.  I've watched this game being played and have fought it for over forty years.  The saddest thing is that, even with the I-Net, people are no further advanced in understanding the fraudulent "two-party" game than they were forty years ago.

Rick Armin
Rick Armin

I told the young lady at the Chick-Fil-A window that Rahm Emanuel sent me.  She smiled and said, "Oh!  Good!"

Tonight at 10 a local TV station is doing a story, "Endless lines at Chick-Fil-A."

Barry_blb
Barry_blb

“I make mistakes all the time. That’s a Menino-ism.”  What is a Menio-ism?  Is it flip-flopping because of political backlash?  I guess it is.

Barry_blb
Barry_blb

“I make mistakes all the time. That’s a Menino-ism."  What is Menio-ism?  Is it flip-flopping because of political backlash?  I guess that's what it is.

Barry_blb
Barry_blb

“I make mistakes all the time. That’s a Menino-ism.” Exactly what is Menio-ism?  Is it flip-flopping on values because of the political backlash?  I guess he got it right.

bpai99
bpai99

Even bigots have rights. And even bigots need to eat.

tulfotumbong
tulfotumbong

I can't understand why Obama is in the equation when only the mayor is involved. Some people are plain bigot or a red neck by nature.

Ryan Wenzel
Ryan Wenzel

Has Emmanuel or anyone else actually tried to use legal means to force Chick-Fil-A establishments from their cities, or are they just utilizing their own First Amendment rights as private citizens to express their opinions?

"Boston Mayor Menino announced on July 26 that he will not seek punitive action against Chick-fil-A. 'I can’t do that. That would be interference to his rights to go there,'" 

There's no issue here, even though your article implies that liberals are trying to legally ban dissent. Chick-Fil-A says they're against gay marriages, and a bunch of other people are saying that makes them bigots. Nobody's breaking laws.

jt0243
jt0243

Having lived in the area, Chicago was ne o my favorite cites to visit. The Pump Rooand so many geat restraunts, the theators on the north side, Arie Crown, Black Hawks and so many musuems. We did it all. Now..... we are afraid to go there! On my ast visit when I took my son and his family and friend from Dade County, FL (a police detective), I had t ustle eeryone from the pier to avoid a purse snatching. Rah need to worry about much bigger hings than Chick Filet in Cicago.

rogerrramjet
rogerrramjet

Dan Cathy is a LIAR and a HYPOCRITE. He says he follows the values of the Buybull? Then when can I make a bid on one of his daughters as that is allowed under buybull beliefs.

When can we expect to see him pushing for the return of slavery as the buybull condones slavery.

When can we find out how many times he has slept with his daughters as that was allowed in the buybull.

Does he allow his wife when she is having her period to be allowed in the house?

When is he going to start calling for the death penalty for adulterers.

Seems to me old Dan is a frickin' liar and hypocrite who needs to have his phony life exposed for the BS that it is.

He's just a racist, homophobe bigot and is using the buybull and phony 'christian' values to try and hide behind that hate and bigotry.

He's also a cheapskate.

netlawbmg
netlawbmg

I am a centrist Democrat and must say, that I would not support Chick-Fil-A with my hard earned dollars, nor would I support my university (if they had a football team) attending the Chick-fil-A Bowl. That being said, it is dangerous when politicians use Non-neutral Content to decide issues related to free speech.  Rahm.... You are plain wrong, let CFA come and let the Chicago population if so disposed allow them to go out of business.   Do not use the power of the Mayor or selectmen to defeat business. 

To the same, extent, I resent Bob Finger calling names.  When one points fingers he has three pointing back at himself.

alfredjones
alfredjones

my buddy's

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ahandout
ahandout

Marriage, when broken down is simple a legal contract.  Anybody that goes through a divorce learns that very quickly.  Your "I do" means much more than most lovebirds realize at the time.

So if gays want a legal contract, no problem.  The divorces should be a hoot.  Just call them what they are:  Joint partnerships.  Have fun splitting the assets.

Jackson
Jackson

my buddy's

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SirBurban
SirBurban

whether you support gay marriage or not, thank your first amendment rights for even being able to have this debate.

Marc Darius
Marc Darius

The right to speak freely was fought for.  What do you think the right to marry is?

Fighting for greater freedom IS a tribute to the freedoms that came before.

ahandout
ahandout

 There is no "right" to marry.  Where do you get this stuff? 

Next a "right" to be wealthy, a "right" to own a home, a "right" to cherrypick your next "right."

Most ancient societies needed a secure environment for the perpetuation

of the species,a system of rules to handle the granting of property

rights, and the protection of bloodlines. The institution of marriage

handled these needs. For instance, ancient Hebrew law required a man to become the husband of a deceased brother's widow.

http://marriage.about.com/cs/g...

Marc Darius
Marc Darius

"Where do you get this stuff? "

The Constitution of the United States.

Where do you get your stuff? Because it's certainly not the law.

" There is no "right" to marry."

Tell that to Mildred and Richard Loving.

Tell that to the framers of the 14th Amendment and the equal protection clause.

It was the same argument from bible thumpers back then too. God doesn't want the races to marry. God put races on different continents. God says I'm better than you. whine whine whine 

Marc Darius
Marc Darius

 "There is no "right" to marry.  Where do you get this stuff "

Pull your head out and look at the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and the Equal Protection clause.

Tell Mildred and Richard Loving there's no "right" to marry.

Tell the Supreme Court which called the right to marry a

basic civil right of all persons, “one of the vital personal rights

essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness.”

Tell the framers of the 14th Amendment, GOP Sen. Jacob Howard said the attributes of a free man according to the universal understanding of the American people include the "right of having a family, a wife, children, home."

We don't live in an ancient society. We live in the United States.

I like the 2nd Amendment too.

Plenty of "ancient societies" and some modern ones like Nazi Germany weren't too fond of granting people the right to bear arms either.

Palladia
Palladia

That "ancient Hebrew law" was what got Onan into problems. 

It also seemed to have no problem with polygyny, or "taking a handmaiden," either.

Then, there were David and Jonathan . . .

SirBurban
SirBurban

Whether you support gay marriage or not, thank your first ammendment right to free speach for even being able to have this forum.

nissanwatt
nissanwatt

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Marc Darius
Marc Darius

I hear you can make a lot of money blowing people in Chick-fil-a bathrooms.

Vincent Lovece
Vincent Lovece

The bottom line is, liberal politicians are trying to ban businesses from cities for political reasons. Not legal reasons, not environmental reasons, not because those businesses broke any civil rights laws or refused to pay taxes, but because they disagree with them on a hot button issue. This is shocking.

Vincent Lovece
Vincent Lovece

 They have no right to ban Chick-fil-A because some people might be offended over their donations than they have a right to get offended over the fact that they serve chicken and that that might offend vegetarians who are vehemently anti-meat consumption.

1ManfromMcKavett14
1ManfromMcKavett14

This could be a newsworthy item if it weren't for the simple fact that Rahm Emanuel is such a degenerate idiot that nobody cares about his opinions are !!! (Except of course Obama, who himself is another degenerate idiot !! -  Power to Chick-fil-A, hope they are a smashing success amp; if Emanuel ever enters one of their locations, I hope they exercise their right to refuse service to anyone !!!

ahandout
ahandout

Marc, you assume much. 

I am well aware of Muslim hypocrisy.

I was specifically pointing out that the left here in the US will go nuts over a chicken restaurant and put their head in the sand when it comes to the rest of the Muslim world and how it treats minorities.  And that includes Barry the apologist. 

Marc Darius
Marc Darius

 And I was specifically pointing out you're wrong. The fact you don't see or don't want to see it,  doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

The ILGA for example. Or Amnesty International. Plenty of work fighting extremism in Turkey, Iran, etc. etc.  Last I heard there were some Muslims in Iran.

Giving asylum counts as putting one's head in the sand?

Lots I could say about Obama. That's not one of them.

ahandout
ahandout

Right back atcha, Marc.

http://www.iranian.com/main/bl...

 Mr. President, It was during June 2009 when the people of Iran

took to the streets and fired their landslide protest against the

fraudulent election by millions. The brutal occupier regime in Iran

began cracking down on the protestors, and while people screaming in

agony you choose to stay silent and bear witness, saying “We don’t know

how this thing is going to play out.” Somehow, that statement didn’t

blow our mind like “hope and change,” but that’s exactly how you felt

about Iran. The Iranians went on protest and lost their lives and you

just watched. In fact, a poll was released at the time, which showed

only single digits of Americans approved of the way you handled of the

situation; even approval among Democrats was in the single digits.

Democrats and Republicans were both unhappy with your weak, casual

position on Iran, some were saying you were acting timid, many were

upset that you didn’t show much support for the citizen freedom fighters

in Iran.

Marc Darius
Marc Darius

You're a Scherer sock puppet aren't you?

The style and cadence is similar enough, the "likes" pattern and pump priming coincidental with other posts. Hmm.

Cut and paste, lack of depth of thought etc.

But linking to iranian.com is a bit of a giveaway.

Marc Darius
Marc Darius

I've worked in intelligence. I'm familiar with Iranian.com. Are you? Do you even know who Jahanshah - sorry- "Mohammad" now,  Javid is?

Do you know Foaad Khosmood their tech chief works is on CASMII Board? (Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran).

You are aware Iranian.com compares CENTCOM, which I have been tasked to in the past, to AQ and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard?

That they call our troops "rapists" and say our Marines have been trained specifically to kill women and children?

And this is the source for your rebuttal is it?

You'd have to work really hard to be as much as an f'ing tool as you appear.

ahandout
ahandout

 Let's get to facts and figures.  How many people died from the owner of Chick fil A exercising his First Amendment Rights?  I'm guessing zero.

How many die in or are imprisoned in Turkey, Iran, etc?  Hundreds of thousands, millions?  Now imagine you have that scale of justice in front of you.  Yet the media, and all the attention whores act like Dan Cathy wants to imprison or execute gays.  It is effing absurd.

Didn't Iran just have a major uprising?  What did Obama say or do to help those that wanted freedom?  Nothing.

http://www.iranian.com/main/bl...

Mr. President, It was during June 2009 when the people of Iran

took to the streets and fired their landslide protest against the

fraudulent election by millions. The brutal occupier regime in Iran

began cracking down on the protestors, and while people screaming in

agony you choose to stay silent and bear witness, saying “We don’t know

how this thing is going to play out.” Somehow, that statement didn’t

blow our mind like “hope and change,” but that’s exactly how you felt

about Iran. The Iranians went on protest and lost their lives and you

just watched. In fact, a poll was released at the time, which showed

only single digits of Americans approved of the way you handled of the

situation; even approval among Democrats was in the single digits.

Democrats and Republicans were both unhappy with your weak, casual

position on Iran, some were saying you were acting timid, many were

upset that you didn’t show much support for the citizen freedom fighters

in Iran.

Marc Darius
Marc Darius

" Same sex marriage has yet to be declared a human right"

Your not knowing it, doesn't make it so.  Article 16 of the UDHR for one.

But  some of us still believe in the founding principles of the U.S., we hold as self-evident the truth that all men are created equal.

Marc Darius
Marc Darius

 Why don't you know who Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt is?

Why don't "conservatives" go ape over soldiers who die for their country, but are denied equal treatment under the law?

Marc Darius
Marc Darius

  "Marc, show me the outrage..."

Stop arguing from your own ignorance. If you'd ever been outside your little comfort zone instead of relying on wikipedia for information on the Muslim world, you'd be aware of such things as bacha bazi.

You'd have some familiarity with the AIHRC or the RAWA that work for human rights in Afghanistan.

Since I doubt you know a Pashtun from a Baloch, much less their traditions, I question whether it's worth my time.

ahandout
ahandout

 I have a friend who was a tank Captain for the Egyptian Army in the 67 war.  He's a Coptic Christian.  Maybe you two should get together and he can tell of the kindness of Muslims toward the Copts in Egypt.

vanhellslinger
vanhellslinger

The Hendrick Schon Connection to Gay RightsA few years ago a scientist by the name of Hendrick Schoen claimed he had discovered or invented a way to create organic computer chips. He was given awards on the level of the Noble Peace prize and was awarded and recognized for two years, until someone decided to test his creation. What proved to be truth was Schoen faked all his science and was stripped of his fame and fortune. With his story in mind we must take all new “cutting edge” science with a grain of salt. Another claim we can find online in internet searches is the research in prenatal hormones and the experts have linked homosexuality as being caused by a hormone deficiency. The problem with validating some theories is simple, it is impossible. The Theory of Evolution cannot be validated because we cannot “physically” go back in time to trace all the species of animals and plants as they evolve thru time. Prenatal hormone theory would require the experimentation on unborn fetuses which is against the law. One cannot inject unproven research into a baby while it is still in the womb, especially when the only possibly wrong with the child is a gender identity problem. We all live by that which we can’t have, most of us anyway do. Those that live forever will always accept the fact that we will never scientifically validate the infinite nature of the universe. Formal logic is all we have to tell us that there isn’t an end to the universe. This logic can be demonstrated in many mathematical forms and numbers but we will never be able to take a tape measure and measure out to the end of a infinite universe. Let us please use this logic to see the fraud of gay rights. Homosexuality is a disease and it appears that we don’t have the technology yet to prove it is a disease. However we accept the Theory of Evolution with logic and that same logic is legally available to recognize a degenerate sex behavior as the disease it is. Millions of AIDS death can be traced directly to homosexuals that are involved in anal cavity sex. Supporting gay rights is like giving in to the bad kids in “Lord of the Flies” “kill the beast” mentality which is kill the conservatives that won’t support our degenerate sexual behavior.