Ald. Danny Solis won't back objection to Chick-fil-A if based only on human rights issue
Chicago, IL —
The political firestorm and debate over a new Chicago Chick-fil-A location continues, prompting politicians and activist groups on both sides of the gay marriage issue to get involved.
The Chicago Republican Party said Thursday that it plans to file a complaint with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Department of Human Rights over Alderman Joe Moreno's action against Chick-fil-A.
Alderman Moreno (1st), 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
earlier this week.
Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A has come under intense fire by gay rights groups after President Dan Cathy admitted to being anti-gay
during an interview published in the Baptist Press on July 16.
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 has already obtained zoning for a second Chicago location 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.
However, the chairman of the City Council's Zoning Committee said Thursday he wouldn't back Moreno's objection to Chick-fil-A if based only on the human rights issue.
"I'm going to be considering it on the zoning issues, whether it's traffic, safety, right of way issues – and that's going to be the basis of our decision," Alderman Danny Solis (25th), who chairs the committee, told WBBM-TV
Moreno has previously said traffic issues were a concern for the proposed location. He said those would need to be resolved before the restaurant could open.
The ACLU, which strongly supports same-sex marriage, opposes any decision to bar the fast-food chain based over the personal views of Cathy.
"The government can regulate discrimination in employment or against customers, but what the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words," Adam Schwartz, senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union
of Illinois, told FoxNews.com
. "When an alderman refuses to allow a business to open because its owner has expressed a viewpoint the government disagrees with, the government is practicing viewpoint discrimination."
In a statement released Thursday, the owner and operator of Chicago's only Chick-fil-A restaurant located at 30 E Chicago Ave, invited Mayor Rahm Emanuel to meet with her following his statement against the chain.
"We are Chicagoans who are dedicated to serving our community," owner Lauren Silich said in the statement. "We hold fundraisers for hospitals, school, fallen police and we donate to a wide variety of causes, including everything from churches to gay and lesbian organizations."
ChicagoPride.com has tried unsuccessfully to reach Silich for comment and clarification to which LGBT organizations her franchise has supported.
Conservatives have rallied to Chick-fil-A's side.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum are urging their supporters to patronize Chick-fil-A on Wednesday.Equality Illinois
is encouraging those who support gay rights to participate in an "Eat for Love Day" on Wednesday
. The gay rights group is also promoting the nationwide kiss-in campaign at local Chick-fil-A locations on Friday, Aug. 3.
The divide in the current debate over Chick-fil-A and same-sex marriage follows nationwide trends. A USA Today/Gallup Poll in May showed 50 percent of Americans approved of gay marriage and 48 percent opposed it.
Gay marriage is illegal in Illinois.