Moreno cites chain's anti-gay marriage stance
Ald. Joe Moreno, left, 1st Ward; and David Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute. (Moreno, Tribune file 2011; Smith, Tribune file 2007 / July 25, 2012)
“It’s hypocritical,” said David Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, which opposes gay marriage. “Here’s the alderman turning around and being intolerant and discriminatory because somebody has a different view than he does. Would he do that to a Muslim company?”
The Tribune first reported that Moreno, 1st, announced he would exercise his aldermanic privilege to block the construction of the city’s second Chick-fil-A restaurant on the 2500 block of Elston Avenue in increasingly trendy Logan Square.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed Moreno’s ideological viewpoint, saying the city does not share the values espoused by Dan Cathy, president of the family-owned Chick-fil-A fast-food restaurant chain.
Many Chicago officials have long courted the city’s politically active lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and Emanuel has repeatedly made clear his support for gay marriage.
Cathy was quoted July 16 in the Baptist Press saying he was "guilty as charged" for supporting "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."
But Smith said Cathy should not be punished for the views he holds.
“I think what Ald. Moreno is doing is terrible,” Smith said. “He is playing partisan politics. He is pandering to a segment of his district or his ward, and he’s actually not helping his overall community by refusing to help develop that part of the ward to bring in jobs and to bring in tax revenue. It’s like cutting your nose off to spite your face, all because Mr. Cathy spouted his opinion about same-sex marriage.”
Moreno, however, predicted in an opinion piece that he would be attacked for not caring about jobs.
“Nothing could be farther from the truth,” Moreno wrote. “I am proud of my track record on promoting and assisting businesses to open and grow in the 1st Ward. I would argue that a company with such overtly bigoted beliefs is actually bad for business and jobs in the 1st Ward, not the reverse.”
Moreno earlier had said he was not punishing Cathy for his views. Instead, he was taking the action because of Cathy’s advocacy, as well as concerns about traffic flow in the area near the proposed restaurant.
“When Cathy comes out in public on it, I’m going to go against him,” Morreno said. “I don’t have the resources or the time to question every single business in my ward. I’ve got a lot of them. But when someone comes forward on it, but someone proactively presents their position, I have to react.”
Moreno also dismissed concerns about the company filing lawsuit alleging violation of their 1st Amendment rights to free speech.
“They can do it anytime they want,” Moreno said. “I would suggest that the better path, the less expensive path, the more contemporary path, is to work with me on an anti-discriminatory LGBT policy.”
Chick-fil-A has yet to respond to Moreno’s stance, but last week, it posed a message on Facebook in response to the broader controversy following Cathy's statement:
“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief ,race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,” it stated. “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”