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Chicago GOP calls for investigation into Alderman’s proposed Chick-fil-A ban

By Tony Merevick| Chicago Phoenix
Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chicago Republican Party leaders filed a complaint with Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Department of Human Rights Wednesday, alleging that Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno violated provisions of the state’s Human Rights Act and the First Amendment, when he said he would block Chick-fil-A from opening its second Chicago location in his ward.

The complaint comes as both supporters and opponents of the restaurant chain hold several events in “appreciation” and opposition, respectively.

Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno

“Not only has he used his power over zoning to punish someone with whom he disagrees politically,” said Chris Cleveland, vice chairman of the Chicago Republican Party Wednesday during a press conference at City Hall. “He has used government power to engage in overt religious discrimination against a person who merely expressed a sincerely held religious belief.”

Cleveland and the local GOP contend that his statements in the press and his denial of zoning permits to the increasingly under-fire chain violated the state’s human rights provisions.

“We are standing up for the minority in Chicago of business owners that face this every day,” said Cleveland. “This happens all the time, but this was such an egregious example that we had to stand up and say something.”

Moreno issued a brief statement hours after the complaint was filed: “They are inaccurate and we will not back down in fighting for equal rights,” he said, but wouldn’t comment on any of the specifics.

In addition, the GOP said that Moreno’s move is another instance of Chicago Democrat politicians exerting their power against their enemies.

“The Chicago Democratic Machine has long abused power, using government funds and rule-making powers to hammer political opponents,” Cleveland said. “It’s illegal, but often difficult to prove.”

They also accused Moreno and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who initially supported the alderman’s decision, but backtracked in more recent statements, of pandering to their constituent voters for support. However, when asked if the GOP was doing the same thing, Chicago Republican Party Chairman Adam Robinson said that he disagrees with such an interpretation.

Last week, Moreno (1st Ward) made headlines when he announced that he would block Chick-fil-A’s plans to open a standalone restaurant in the 2500 block of North Elston Avenue next to the Home Depot in Logan Square. His decision came after months of unsuccessful talks with executives at the company regarding their policies and Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s confirmation two weeks ago that he was “guilty as charged” for opposing anything other than the marriage between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible.

“We decided not to give our support to a company that has views that we personally find repugnant and what we think the majority of our constituents also find repugnant,” said 1st Ward Director of Legislative Affairs & Communications Matthew Bailey, on behalf of the alderman last week. “We feel like we have to take a stand and it would go against our principles if we didn’t take this position.”

Murmurs of the GOP taking legal action emerged shortly after the news broke last week, and they have now confirmed that their legal counsel is studying the matter. It is possible that Moreno violated federal law, Cleveland added.

Specifically, the complaint asks Madigan to investigate “abuses of power” and “overt religious discrimination.” It cites several statements Moreno made in local media, in which he vowed to deny zoning permits and any other city requirements to anyone seeking to open a franchise of the restaurant in his ward. The complaint also questions Moreno’s claims that the company has engaged in discriminatory practices.

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26 more reader comments:

  1. Where can I file a complaint against bigoted republicon party leaders?

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 4:48pm
  2. tell him to kiss it grow up and get a life dumbass republican

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 4:49pm
  3. If the accusations are true, then he shouldn’t have done it. But all i’ve heard are accusations. No proof

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 4:50pm
  4. What a joke !! I stand behind this alderman even though I don’t live in his ward… But what he stand for makes me want to move there !!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 4:52pm
  5. “they’re” fighting for equal rights? Laughable. Really.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 4:53pm
  6. Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 4:55pm
  7. I applaud You !!!!!! Many politicians would never have taken a brave move such as you have done Thank you Alderman Moreno for being the first to take the step towards showing everyone deserves equal rights in this city state and this country

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 4:56pm
  8. everyone deserves equal rights! and shame on the bigoted GOP for their homophobia!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 4:59pm
  9. equal rights is NOT HATRED and discrimination..thats NOT EQUAL..I BET they used to support segragation as well and anti interracial marraige as AGASINT GOD…bullshit

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:04pm
  10. I don’t care what your opinion of gay marriage is. That’s irrelevant to the fact that the government thinks politicians have a right to tell what businesses can operate in their town.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:06pm
  11. Politicians don’t have a right do ban businesses from their area. If people in Chicago don’t want to eat at Chick Fila, then they won’t. Thats boycotting and I’m fine with that. When government uses their power to do whatever they please with taxpayer dollars, then that crosses the line. That’s fascism.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:08pm
  12. I am so thankful to live in a country with a constitution that prevents pandering politicians from blackballing a business from opening to the public because of the political views of SOME of the business’s employees. As a gay man, I don’t need a public office babysitter to steer me away from a shitty restaurant run by right wing bigots, this kind of paltry babble is nothing more/less than facism dressed up in a cheap Tuxedo adorned with an ill-conceived bleeding heart, this asshole doesn’t represent me, all this does is make far right consrrva

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:24pm
  13. *conservative bible thumpers look good, a dubious action if ever I’ve seen one.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:25pm
  14. True. Not up to politicians whether or not to allow the business there. Let it be up to the consumer to boycott the business based on its crappy chicken, homophobic opinions, and discriminatory policies (and if they violate the law with their hiring or employment practices, sue the crap out of them.)

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:30pm
  15. This is proof this whole Chic-Fil-A thing has gone too far. While overtly religious people make my blood boil, (not because they are religious, mind you, but because they’re often ignorant, hypocritical and refuse to think for themselves and decide what values and morals resonate with them instead of letting a 2000 year old book decide for them.) saying that they don’t have the right to open a business because you don’t agree with their views and where they donate their money to is just plain wrong.

    I think the LGBTcommunity and our allies will accomplish so much more by not spending our money there and by helping people to make educated decisions about where to spend their money. By doing this sort of thing we accomplish nothing except making ourselves and our community look as bad as those who oppress us.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:30pm
  16. republicans are idiots on crazy pills

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:40pm
  17. He’ll be coming out of the closet soon and appologizing.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:41pm
  18. What a great way to spend government money. Let’s keep perpetuating the problem.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:41pm
  19. I’m in complete agreement with Mike, Krista and Nicole, but in the interest of truth, the problem is more about the actual donations to anti-gay organizations than the personal views of its CEO. The principle is the same though: it’s simply unacceptable to prevent a business from opening because of either its owners’ private views or its political donations. Boycotting is fine but that’s a huge step over the line. It’s nice to see so many in the gay community criticizing such a move, too.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 6:16pm
  20. Well not only did chick-fil-A use gay peoples money to advocate against them, but they pulled off one of the finest commercial scams ever to boost their profits using the conservatives once again. When are these conservative people going to learn that the rich play them like guitar string, and use them for their own self gain, while calling themselves Christians. They are liars, and the truth is not in them (that come from Jesus in the Bible btw). If they were going to do the appreciation day the christian way, they would have gave the food away, not sell it. Congratulations conservatives, I know chick-fil-A was laughing all the way to the bank with your money, and I am sure they appreciated you boosting their bottom line. ~Andrew Chambers~

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 6:37pm
  21. Leave law out of it or we are doing what they are doing and that’s hypocritical!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 8:06pm
  22. - Well, the most logical thing to do regarding the opening of new chain stores in an area (when their parent corps. have been deemed controversial in their politics or business practices) would be to have a community referendum to see who actually intends to give them their business in the first place. If there is not a certain threshold of positive interest reached, then no reason to grant a permit for that particular location. It’s certainly not as if there is any shortage of fast food joints in the Boston or Chicago areas so that people would be suffering privation on account of such a refusal.

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 10:57pm
  23. you notice its the $%%#$&^$*(^*(&*()&*()%^republicans whineing!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 11:51pm
  24. What if he were blocking a gay business? Think about it.

    Posted on Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 5:12am
  25. I do not agree with Chick-fil-A view about marriage equality, and therefore they will not receive any business from me or my family and friends who share those viewpoints, but I think it is wrong for anybody to deny them the opportunity to expand their business.

    Posted on Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 6:24am
  26. Just as gay marriage has nothing to do w how u would run our country, towns, and cities it also has nothing at all to do w how u run a restaurant! The focus should b elsewhere!

    Posted on Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 11:24am