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Boston mayor backs off Chick-fil-A; ACLU warns politicians to avoid threats

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he won’t back down from his stance against Chick-fil-A and its anti-marriage equality stance, but acknowledged Thursday he cannot prevent the fast-food chain from opening a new franchise across the street from City Hall.

Late last week, Menino vowed to block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant near the city’s “Freedom Trail,” a response to comments by the chain’s president that gay marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”

Thomas Menino

“There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it,” Menino wrote in a letter to Cathy.

On Thursday, however, Menino backed off threats to interefere in Chick-fil-A’s opening. “I can’t do that. That would be interference to his rights to go there,” Menino said.

“I make mistakes all the time. That’s a Menino-ism,” he said.

Menino’s anti-Chick-fil-A sentiments have since been echoed by Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno, who announced that he will block Chick-fil-A’s efforts to build its second Chicago-area restaurant.

But the American Civil Liberties Union is also warning state and local governments against actions such as those threatened by Menino and Moreno.

“The government can regulate discrimination in employment or against customers, but what the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words,” said Adam Schwartz, senior attorney for the ACLU of Illinois.

The ACLU “strongly supports” same-sex marriage, Schwartz noted, but said that “if a government can exclude a business for being against same-sex marriage, it can also exclude a business for being in support of same-sex marriage.”

Dr. Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert and professor at the George Washington University Law School in Washington said that Menino’s intentions raises “serious” constitutional concerns.

“It’s also a very slippery slope,” Turley said an email to LGBTQ Nation late Friday. “If a City Council started to punish companies because of the viewpoints of their chief operating officers, that would become a very long list of banned companies.”

Also this week, San Francisco Mayor Edin Lee jumped into the debate, and tweeted, “Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer.”

Lee stopped short of threatening to block any future restaurant openings.

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Filed under: Massachusetts

20 more reader comments:

  1. Bummer, but true.

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:16am
  2. We are glad that the Boston Mayor is standing up for equality, however one of the down sides of freedom of speech is that it protects everyone which includes the ignorant, crazy, evil and mean. :)

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:17am
  3. ACLU has sold out to the 1%. it’s not about rights, it’s about the profits.

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:19am
  4. He has a right to his opinion OPENLY ! He is not hurting anyone. THEY CHICK-LI-A is the bad people here… KKK members eat there all racists and bigots will support them… and that is unlawful to form hate groups. If they were against blacks we would see the army come in and close them down.

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:20am
  5. WHY Threten them all we want,they did it to US long enough

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:22am
  6. They don’t support gay’s getting married,but they sure don’t have a problem taking our money to support their buisness…

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:23am
  7. nice.

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:24am
  8. Pup: Menino doesn’t look all that hot when he says that, given that he is a state official and CFA is a “private” corp. He should know the law better before saying what he said, since it probably unduly gave more to the conservative persecution complex than sustained the argument against CFA’s bigotry.

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:30am
  9. Don’t get confused with the ACLU and the ability of people in this country to open businesses and run them the way they want to as long as they don’t harm anyone. That has nothing to do with the ACLU. I do not agree with Chik-fil-A, but a business owner SHOULD have the right to do what they want as long as they don’t break the law. Chik-fil-A has not broken any laws, but the owner is a creep. That isn’t illegal. Boycott!!!

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:31am
  10. The ACLU is absolutely correct.

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:32am
  11. You should respect that the Cathey family has the freedom of religion AND the freedom of speech. While you may not appreciate their point of view, understand that they are a private company that has not discriminated against their employees or their customers. In fact, Chik-Fil-A is a wonderful steward of our community, donating food and money to those in need, regardless of color, religion, sexual preference. For a government official or even a group of college students to say their business isn’t welcome is counter to your whole fight and counter to our Constitution. If you don’t like them, don’t eat there.

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:37am
  12. CHIK-FIL-hAte promotes discrimination, i don’t support bigots!

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:39am
  13. The ACLU is much of the reason they can’t stick a “no gays allowed” sign in their windows. The ACLU is your FRIEND. CFA has revealed to us who they are. Either you don’t care about it and eat there anyway or you stop going there and be thankful you are no longer giving money to someone who takes issue with your lifestyle. That’s how America works. The ACLU is standing up for all of us right now. Just don’t go to CFA. Hate them if you want and tell everyone not to go. But hating on the ACLU is hypocritical.

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:40am
  14. This is why I just can’t give money to the ACLU anymore. They fight for civil rights, even when it hurts the lgbt community. Gotta pick and choose, and for me my $ is better served with other groups.

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:45am
  15. i m eating chick f lay nuggets right now

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:57am
  16. Wow….I just read a comment that blew my socks off: do people actually believe that the ACLU should ONLY fight for the LGBTQ? I thought they were advocates for EVERYONE’s rights. I will be dining at Chik-Fil-A on Wednesday.

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 12:04pm
  17. Hey Jon, when our local Chik-Fil-A supports the kids at PAL, donates to families displaced by fires, and all of the charitable causes that ask for help—THAT is a good steward to MY community.

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 12:16pm
  18. I am thoroughly disgusted with this man!! He is a coward giving into the bully!! Unlike Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno and San Francisco Mayor Edin Lee who show guts and won’t back down from the fight!!

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 12:30pm
  19. It is really unfortunate that in this day there is still debate about who has the right to be happy and who doesn’t. I am still proud of him and I still believe boston is a great city with many opportunities of equality. One can’t be nice to some and mean to others, that’s not fair and is selective favoritism. So I think chik a fil really need to figure out their support system. If you wanna go with supporting the community , remember that football coach sanduski was a big supporter of underprivileged kids and donated tons of money to charity. Yet that’s where he would get his new victims too. And no one did anything for years just letting him get away with it bc he is “such a nice guy” .. Karma did catch up to him though .. Moral of the story ? You do not get to choose who gets to be accepted and who doesn’t based on where your money gets donated.

    Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 1:21pm
  20. The answer is simple we the consumers just do not buy their “poisoned” chicken don deal hit the bastards where they live in their pocketbook!

    Posted on Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 9:47am