Boston’s Mayor Plays Chicken With Anti-Gay Food Franchise
Boston’s mayor, Thomas Menino, may have his heart in the right place. But his stance to oppose in every way possible -- official and otherwise -- a restaurant franchise from opening in his city is un-American and ultimately a "lose" for our side.
Menino is angered and disgusted by the comments made by the owner of Chick-Fil-A opposing marriage equality. The owner is quite outspoken: As reported here, he believes "we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ’We know better than You as to what constitutes a marriage."
Yes, this is despicable. The owner, Dan Cathy, also has been documented as contributing heavily to anti-gay organizations such as Focus on the Family. Predictably, the National Organization for Marriage and such groups are praising him for his outspoken stance.
I find Cathy as repugnant as the next person. But I also do not believe that his personal beliefs are enough to allow a public official to disallow a company from opening in his city. If the franchisee gets the proper permits, pays the rent, and observes local laws -- including no hiring discrimination based on sexual preference or gender identity -- then he or she should have every right to open in Boston.
I say, let the market decide; not a public official.
The reasoning is simple: If Cathy has not been found to be discriminatory in his hiring practices or his customers, he is entitled to his opinions. Chick-Fil-A trumpets its "Christian values" by apparently piping in Christian music (enough of a reason to avoid at all costs!) and closing all franchises on Sunday.
These are not, however, enough reasons to oppose an enterprise from opening. Anecdotally, from looking around on the Internet, the individual franchises don’t seem to be guilty of any prejudice against LGBT workers. The comments I’ve read appear to be disingenuous enough not to be company plants. Of course, one never knows, although there do not appear to be any complaints that I can find.
But there’s another, more important reason.
Such a stance is a slippery slope that cuts both ways. If Cathy is prevented from practicing legal commerce because of his views, so could a mayor of a very conservative city invoke Menino when opposing a company with the opposite stance.
Thus, a mayor would be within his rights to oppose a vocally pro-gay rights company, such as Starbucks, say, or Apple. If we agree Menino is right, so is this theoretical mayor.
I’ve never liked this hardcover tactic by a big-city mayor. It smacks too much of bullying for my liking. I also believe, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Supreme Court, that the most obnoxious abusers of free speech really draw the line between those who would fight for the First Amendment down the line and the wishy-washy.
I’ve often stated my opposition to censorship of any kind -- on the right or the left, pro- or anti-gay. That goes double for any business enterprise.