By: Gricel Martínez Ocasio/TRT Publisher–
BOSTON, Mass. – Mayor Thomas Menino’s opposition to Chik-fil-A opening a store in Boston, derived from inflammatory anti-LGBT remarks made by Chik-fil-A’s president to Baptist press, has caused national uproar in cyberspace, the business and non-profit worlds, college campuses, and even in the political arena. As such, he is joined by many who share his views and others who do not. Regardless, his actions are the voice of equality for all and his letter to Dan Cathy, Chik-fil-A president, expresses this sentiment.
“In recent days you said Chick-fil-A opposes same-sex marriage and said the generation that supports it has an ‘arrogant attitude,’” stated Menino in his letter to Cathy. “Here in Boston, to borrow your own words, we are ‘guilty as charged.’ We are indeed full of pride for our support of same sex marriage and our work to expand freedom to all people.”
Shortly after Menino’s message, The Jim Henson Co. made an official Chick-fil-A announcement on its Facebook page.
“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over 50 years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD.”
Via Facebook, ABC News reported that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee invited all of his fans to a “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day,” scheduled to take place on August 1. Via this Facebook page, the anti-gay sentiment linked to religion said it all.
“I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick Fil-A company … The Cathy family … are a wonderful Christian family who are committed to operating the company with Biblical principles and whose story is the true American success story. … Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant. …”
And so, opponents and proponents of LGBT causes and marriage equality flooded the Internet — the controversy even reached Congress, as reported by Bloomberg.com, where some Republican members, akin to the chain, visibly supported it.
“Members of the Republican Study Committee [on July 25th] dined on chicken sandwiches and wraps from the fast food company at their weekly luncheon. It was a show of support after its president … said he opposes gay marriage,” stated the Bloomberg story.
In response, a day after the Republican committee’s chicken fest, the HRC “staged a protest outside of a Chick-fil-A food truck in downtown Washington, D.C.”
“HRC is sending a loud and clear message to Chick-fil-A: we will not rest until your consumers know that you take their money and hand it over to groups that actively work to demonize LGBT people,” said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz via a press release. “Consumers should have all the facts about Chick-fil-A’s anti-LGBT history, and then make informed decisions about whether they want to continue to support a business that proudly touts its connections to discriminatory groups. …”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has joined Menino and Chicago’s Northwest Side Ward Alderman Proco “Joe” to block Chick-fil-A’s effort to build its second store in the city, according to TheAdvocate.com.
“If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don’t want you in the 1st Ward,” Moreno told the Chicago Tribune on July 24th.
According to the Adcocate.com, “college students are using online petitions to demand the chain get booted from campuses of [the] University of Illinois, University of Kansas, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Ball State University, College of Charleston, Wichita State University, and Minnesota State University.”
In March 2012, The Rainbow Times reported that in response to mounting opposition, the undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA) at [Boston’s] Northeastern University (NU) voted down a proposal to bring Chick-fil-A to campus.
“When you are a university in one of America’s most progressive cities, you cannot ignore the queer community and put a symbol of discrimination in public display,” said first year sociology major Devon Branin of East Greenwich, R.I. a spokesperson for NU Pride, the school’s LGBT student group.
This weekend, Chik-fil-A company owners from other locations have welcome everyone to stores in heavily LGBT populated regions, such as the store in Hollywood and West Hollywood, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Jeremiah Cillpam, owner of this store, “circulated a letter that night on the restaurant’s Facebook page, stating his intention to run his business apolitically,” according to the LA Times story.
Although last weekend Menino was quoted by the Boston Herald as not being able to actively ban the fried chicken company, he still voiced that he still does not want them in Boston. Others concurred with the Mayor.
According to the Boston Herald, “A Facebook page for the same-sex PDA demonstration is urging people across the country to ‘grab a friend (or 20)’ and head to their local Chick-fil-A to protest company CEO’s anti-gay marriage remarks.”
And that is what same-sex couples did last weekend as they visited Chik-fil-A’s two North Shore locations, in a move that was nationally called “National Same-Sex Kiss Day” a way to condemn for the company’s president anti-LGBT stance.
On July 27th, according to polling organization YouGov, Chik-fil-A’s brand (due to Cathy’s comments) plummeted “in most regions of the US, including the South where most of its restaurants are located.”
On July 31, The Washington Post reported that mayors of San Francisco and Pittsburgh were joining Mayors Menino and Emanuel in their sentiment against the fried chicken brand CEO’s comments.
Menino’s response to Cathy’s comments nonetheless, shows the reality of a country divided by religion and basic civil human rights. As the Boston Mayor stated “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.” His intentions, criticized or not, show a profound and passionate sense of loyalty to a community he respects and knows too well.
“When Massachusetts became the first state in the country to recognize equal marriage rights, I personally stood on City Hall Plaza to greet same sex couples coming here to be married,” Menino further stated. “It would be an insult to them and to our city’s long history of expanding freedom to have a Chick-fil-A across the street from that spot.”