Chicago, IL —
Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, a vocal supporter of LGBT rights, wants to block plans to open a Chick-fil-A restaurant in his Northwest Side ward because the company's leader opposes marriage equality.
"If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don't want you in the 1st Ward," Moreno told the Chicago Tribune
The Atlanta-based chain is reportedly scouting a location in the Logan Square neighborhood for its second Chicago store. Chick-fil-A operates an outlet in Chicago's Near North neighborhood with a number of suburban locations.
Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy generated a firestorm of controversy with an interview published in the Baptist Press
on July 16 when he answered, "Well guilty as charged," when asked about his company's record of supporting groups opposed to gay marriage.
According to Equality Matters, Chick-fil-A has donated nearly $5 million to groups opposed to gay rights, including the Family Research Council (FRC).
"Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values," Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Tribune
. "They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty."
This is not the first time a major city mayor has weighed in on the Chick-fil-A controversy. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has said he is prepared to ban the restaurant in his city.
"Chick-fil-A" doesn't belong in Boston," Menino told The Boston Herald
Moreno had been working since February with The Civil Rights Agenda
(TCRA), a Chicago-based LGBT policy organization, and Chick-fil-A to create a list of specific items that needed to be addressed if the restaurant wanted to move forward with opening in the 1st Ward.
"Although we have been speaking directly with Chick-Fil-A's senior level executives, we have not made any progress with regards to LGBT inclusion in their discrimination policies," said Jacob Meister, President of TCRA. "We will continue to press the company to adopt LGBT specific measures in their company policies, and, until they do, we will use every avenue available to ensure they are not able to open any more stores in Chicago or Illinois."
The items requested by Moreno and TCRA included an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policy, diversity and cultural competency training, parity in employee benefits that included benefits for couples in civil unions and domestic partnerships, appropriate and respectful advertising in the LGBT community, transgender inclusive health benefits, and rejection of any activities that would undermine the goal of equal rights for LGBT people.
"I thought we were making progress," Alderman Moreno told ChicagoPride.com. "Obviously and unfortunately, not."
Chick-fil-A has already obtained zoning for a restaurant in the 2500 block of North Elston Avenue, but it must seek council approval to divide the land.
Moreno is relying on "aldermanic privilege," which dictates that City Council members defer to the opinion of the ward alderman on local issues.
"They need my support to divide the land where they intend to go. Now, they've lost it," he said.
The 1st Ward incorporates Wicker Park, Bucktown, East Village, Ukranian Village and Logan Square, all neighborhoods that share Chicago's strong support for the LGBT community.On The Web: Alderman to Chick-fil-A: No deal