(CHICAGO) — A Chicago politician said he will block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant in his ward, following anti-gay marriage remarks by the fast food chain’s president.
Alderman Joe Moreno, who represents Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, plans to use his aldermanic privilege, a Chicago tradition in which City Council members defer to aldermen on local matters, to block the restaurant’s permit.
“It’s a very diverse ward — economically, racially, and diverse in sexual orientation,” Moreno told ABC News. “We’ve got thriving businesses and we want more but at the very least don’t discriminate against our LGBTQ folks.”
Moreno is not alone in standing up to the fast food restaurant, whose president Dan Cathy came under scrutiny after he told the Baptist Press he was “guilty as charged” when it came to supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit.”
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino sent Cathy a letter informing him: “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”
The Jim Henson Company also severed ties with the establishment and have donated their earnings from making toys for the chain’s kids’ meals to the gay support organization GLAAD.
But the businessman’s comments have become a rallying point for conservative politicians who see them differently.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee organized a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” for Aug. 1.
“The goal is simple: Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1,” Huckabee wrote on Facebook.
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 117,000 people had indicated they’d participate in the event.
Sen. Rick Santorum said on Twitter today that he was eating lunch at Chick-fil-A with five of his children.
“Enjoying chick-in-strips and an awesome peach shake at Chick-fil-A. See you here next Wednesday!” he tweeted.
In Chicago, residents in Moreno’s ward have expressed mixed opinions that the fast food restaurant won’t be coming to their neighborhood. Moreno does have the support of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.
“Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values. They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty,” Emmanuel said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune.
Moreno said he had been working with Chick-fil-A for nine months to address traffic issues the restaurant could create. During that time, he said he also worked “behind the scenes” to address the company’s alleged support of anti-gay organizations and brought in the Civil Rights Agenda, an LGBTQ group, to help create a dialogue.
“We were making, I thought, some progress, until [Dan Cathy] comes out swinging. That basically sunk our discussions,” he said.
Chick-fil-A did not respond to an ABC News request for an interview. The chain does have a store in Chicago and numerous outlets in its suburbs.
Moreno said if the fast food chain wants to open a location in his ward, than they’re going to have to make amends.
“They should be in the business of selling chicken, not promoting a political philosophy,” he said. “If they want to come out with an anti-discrimination policy, put it in their employee handbook, post it in their restaurants…then we can have a discussion.”
Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A earns about $4 billion in annual sales, according to its website, which states that the purpose of the chain is to “glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sam Turner, Deseret News
Scott Zamost and Drew Griffin, CNN Newswire