Although Chick-fil-A has obtained zoning for a restaurant in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said he supports an alderman’s call to ban the company from the city, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday. The reason: Chick-fil-A’s president, Dan Cathy, does not support gay marriage.
“Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” Emanuel said in a statement to the Tribune. “They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents.”
Chicago would become the third city to attempt a ban of the business based solely on the religious views of its management.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino vowed to keep the restaurant out of his town.
“You can’t have a business in the City of Boston that discriminates against a population,” he told the Boston Globe.
“We’re an open city. We’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” he added. But apparently, that “inclusion” does not apply to those with religious views the mayor does not like.
Fox News’ Todd Starnes wrote Wednesday that the bedroom community of Mountain View, California, has “temporarily blocked the chicken chain from opening.”
But is the attempt to discriminate against Chick-fil-A constitutional?
First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh wrote that “denying a private business permits because of such speech by its owner is a blatant First Amendment violation.”
“Even when it comes to government contracting — where the government is choosing how to spend government money — the government generally may not discriminate based on the contractor’s speech,” he wrote, citing the 1996 Supreme Court case of Board of County Commissioners v. Umbehr.
Even the Boston Globe asked: “[W]hich part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand?”
“A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license,” the Globe added.
But Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno apparently isn’t concerned about the First Amendment.
“You have the right to say what you want to say, but zoning is not a right,” he told the Tribune.
He also said that the company would “have to do a complete 180″ on the issue. The message is clear: Think as we do, or forget doing business here.
“They’d have to work with LGBT groups in terms of hiring, and there would have to be a public apology from (Cathy),” Moreno added.
But if Chick-fil-A can be banned because of the religious views held by its management, what about other Christian-owned businesses?
“With no other reason given by any of these dicta- oops, I mean ‘city leaders’, it is now apparently not possible to conduct business if you hold traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs,” Michelle Horstman wrote at PJ Media.
“It stands to reason, based on the result of prior voting results on the topic of marriage, that at least half of all businesses would likely feel the same as Chick-fil-A. Therefore, don’t we have to assume that they will all be shut down in Chicago, Boston and Mountain View, CA? After all, why would they just pick out one business?” she asked.
The Globe recognized that danger as well.
“But using the power of government to freeze the company out of a city sends a disturbing message to all businesses. If the mayor of a conservative town tried to keep out gay-friendly Starbucks or Apple, it would be an outrage,” the Globe added.
Conservatives, recognizing the dangers of such discrimination, are not sitting still.
Starnes wrote that “thousands of Christians are mobilizing efforts to support Chick-fil-A – led by Fox News Channel host and former Ark. Governor Mike Huckabee,” who declared August 1 “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”
“Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, August 1,” the former Arkansas Governor said.
“The militant homosexual advocates have launched an all out assault on Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A,” Huckabee added.
The Atlanta-based company has over 1600 restaurants nationwide, and the family who founded it in 1967 is known for espousing its Christian values, the Tribune reported, adding that its stores close on Sundays and Christian holidays.