WASHINGTON -- The Chick-fil-A controversy -- starting with comments made against gay marriage by the company president -- as the firm seeks to expand in Chicago and other cities -- has quickly escalated into a national clash over values and the role of government.
Mayors Rahm Emanuel, New York's Michael Bloomberg and Boston's Tom Menino -- all social liberals from big cities -- made statements opposing the view of Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
Cathay runs a company with an unabashed Christian orientation, closing its stores on Sundays so employees can attend church. As more states are legalizing same sex marriage-- President Barack Obama said he was for it in May--Cathay weighed decisively against it recently on a radio show.
"I think we're inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say you know, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.'"
Former GOP presidential candidates who ran on Christian family values -- Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum -- are boosting a Chick-fil-A "Appreciation Day" on Aug. 1 for people to show support for the company by buying a meal -- the opposite of a boycott.
"I have been incensed at the vitriolic assaults on the Chick Fil-A company because the CEO, Dan Cathy, made comments recently in which he affirmed his view that the Biblical view of marriage should be upheld," Huckabee said in a Facebook posting.
As for the Appreciation Day, Huckabee said, "We're simply asking people to eat chicken and not to be one when it's time to take a stand -- our appreciation is not only for the views of Dan Cathy, but for his right to have them and express them freely."
Santorum said in statement on Facebook, "It is sad that liberal groups call for tolerance yet they are vicious in their intolerance when someone disagrees with them.
"I think Governor Mike Huckabee said it best when he wrote, '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.' "
Menino at first threatened to ban the company, telling the Boston Herald "it will be very difficult" for a Chick-fil-A to get a license to operate in the city. On Thursday, he backtracked -- perhaps after realizing that Chick-fil-A had legal legs to stand on -- telling the Herald, "I can't do that. That would be interference to [Cathy's]rights to go there."
In Chicago, Chick-fil-A wants to open a store in the 2500 block of North Elston, turf controlled by Ald. Joe Moreno (1st). In Chicago, an alderman has enormous power to block developments in a ward.
The dustup over Moreno's opposition to a Chick-fil-A outlet in his ward has drawn a dose of national attention. On Thursday night, he told CNN that it was mainly an "equal rights issue," about the company being "non-discriminatory" and "responsible."
Moreno is leveraging his aldermanic clout to throw a spotlight on Chick-fil-A.
He mustered no evidence that the Chick-fil-A discriminates in its treatment of employees or customers.
Moreno told CNN he was "confident" he would resolve his issues with Chick-fil-A.
He must know you can't haul a bully pulpit to court.