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Are City Officials Overstepping On Chick-fil-A?

Jul 31, 2012
Originally published on July 31, 2012 2:59 pm



We want to take another look at this controversy from another perspective. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as we said previously, was one of the mayors who got involved in this controversy. He was asked about a city councilman's plan to block Chick-fil-A from building a new restaurant in that city, and this is what he said.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL: Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago values. They're not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members.

MARTIN: Mary Mitchell is a columnist with the Chicago Sun-Times. She has a different perspective on this, and she's with us now from member station WBEZ in Chicago. Mary Mitchell, welcome. Welcome back, I should say. Thanks for joining us once again.

MARY MITCHELL: Thank you for the invitation.

MARTIN: Now, you've written about this a couple of times. You say you're not opposed to same-sex marriage and you are a churchgoer, but you write that threatening to block Chick-fil-A from building a new restaurant in Chicago is, quote, "not only ridiculous, but dangerous," unquote. Tell us more, please.

MITCHELL: Well, especially in Chicago, where probably two dozen of the city council members in the past have gone to jail for bribery and all sorts of things, you're giving them this - now this - setting a precedent where if they don't like what a person thinks or an expression, that they can block - using the zoning laws to block that person from opening a business in Chicago. I think that's a dangerous precedent.

I also think - we're talking - I hear a lot about hate speech and these are not our values, but I don't understand where, frankly, where the mayor is coming from when he says these are not our values. It's not your values if you're offering people a job and employment? It's not Chicago values to, like, maybe close on Sunday so people can go to church or be with their families or do whatever they want to do?

I just think that this movement - a movement of bullying - so to speak, by our city council just goes too far to make the point that you don't agree with Dan Cathy's views.

MARTIN: What about...

MITCHELL: I just think it's wrong.

MARTIN: You know, a lot of people compare the fight for same-sex marriage or for civil liberties and dignity for same-gender loving people in general to the civil rights movement. In fact, many people say that this is the civil rights fight of our time. What if Dan Cathy had spoken out against interracial marriage, for example? Because that was an issue that, you know, 30 years ago, a lot of people claimed they had a biblical objection to. How do you think that you would respond?

MITCHELL: Right. I would think this is how I would respond. I would respond the same way that I think that LGBT community's responding, and that is I'm not going to shop there. I'm not going to spend my money at a place where people feel that, somehow or another, I don't deserve equal rights.

If that's your position, that's fine. That's a separate issue, and I think that's proper. It's a proper way to respond to someone you feel is advocating that you do not have equal rights. I think the wrong position is when government steps in, when city council steps in and they say we're going to stop you, because we don't like your beliefs.

And, really, at the heart of this is he's a Christian, a self-professed Christian that is running a business that he says is on Christian values, and he speaks to a Christian publication and says, these are my beliefs based on the Bible, how I'm taught. And now, we're going to - what? Put him out of business? I think that's just wrong.

MARTIN: Our guest is Mary Mitchell. She's a columnist with the Chicago Sun-Times. We're talking about the controversy around Chick-fil-A restaurants. The president of Chick-fil-A has expressed his personal views around same-sex marriage, and now some political leaders in some cities are saying that that restaurant should not come to their cities.

Mary Mitchell, we're going to ask you to stay with us so we can talk more about this. This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.