Marriage, free speech and chicken sandwiches
By DOUG PATTON
I have never eaten at a Chick-fil-A, mainly because, until recently, the restaurant chain did not have a location in my area. Now that they do, I intend to try it very soon. I would have done so today, August 1st — dubbed “Chick-fil-A appreciation day” by former Gov. Mike Huckabee on his Fox TV show — but instead I am here slaving over a hot laptop, writing this column for you fine folks. Duty trumps chicken, at least for today.
For those who may have been vacationing in Katmandu, Antarctica or on the lunar surface for the last two weeks, this whole brouhaha with Chick-fil-A started when their chief operating officer, Dan Cathy, had the unmitigated gall to express his support for traditional marriage between a man and woman. Until recently, such a statement would have led the PC Gestapo on America’s kook fringe, which now runs our big cities — Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, etc. — to simply whine, harrumph and stomp their feet about “discrimination” and “homophobia.”
However, since President Obama suddenly “evolved” into a supporter of same-sex marriage a few months ago, his now-emboldened supporters have come to believe that anyone expressing an opposing point of view should be punished. One who seems to believe such things is former Obama chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who may have thought he was being bold and standing tall on behalf of civil rights or human rights or marriage rights or whatever other rights he thinks he’s defending. However, Emanuel may well have taken on more than even his pugnacious personality can handle when he declared that “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values.”
Really, Mr. Mayor? Did you see the line stretching around the block Wednesday at the existing Chick-fil-A locations in your city? I’m hearing reports of Chick-fil-A restaurants all across the country being inundated by supporters who seem to think that this company’s values are America’s values.
Even worse than Emanuel’s bloviating are the statements coming out of the mouth of Chicago Alderman Proco (Joe) Moreno, who is attempting to use his office to block Chick-fil-A from opening more locations in the Windy City. This man actually had the audacity to state that before he will consider allowing zoning rights to a Chick-fil-A restaurant in his ward, the company’s corporate board must put in writing that they “won’t support any groups with a political agenda, including those with an anti-gay marriage stance.”
One wonders if the alderman has ever bothered to read the First Amendment.
To their credit, the Chicago Republican Party has filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and Attorney General Lisa Madigan over this blatant discrimination by Moreno. They later expanded their complaint to include Emanuel’s statements as well. The complaint states that the alderman and the mayor have broken civil rights laws pertaining to religious freedom and the First Amendment in denying Chick-fil-A a permit to operate its business in Chicago.
“Chick-fil-A may have a pretty good case under the First Amendment if the city uses their religious or political beliefs as a basis for denying a business license or ability to do business in the city,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department civil rights attorney, now a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
God bless America. She isn’t finished yet. I don’t know about you, but I know where I’m having lunch tomorrow.
Doug Patton is a former GOP speechwriter.
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