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Chick-fil-A's stance on gay marriage threatens plans for new restaurant in Chicago

(CBS/AP) CHICAGO - A Chicago alderman, angered by the president of Chick-fil-A's comments that he is against gay marriage, said he will block the company from building a restaurant in his ward.

Alderman Joe Moreno said Wednesday that unless the company comes up with a written anti-discrimination policy, Chick-fil-A will not open its first free-standing restaurant in the city as it plans to do.

"They have nothing on the books that says they do not discriminate and they are open to everyone," said Moreno, whose ward is on the northwest side. "I want to see that policy before they go forward."

Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy (cutting cake), and his son, President and COO Dan Cathy
Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy (cutting cake), and his son, President and COO Dan Cathy (at right), mark the chain's 40th anniversary at the original restaurant in Atlanta's Greenbriar Mall in this 2007 file photo. Chick-fil-A

Moreno's comments follow an interview that Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy gave to the Baptist Press in which he said he was "guilty as charged" in support of what he called the biblical definition of a family.

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The fast-food chain later said that it strives to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender," the Boston Herald reported. The Atlanta-based company did not respond to a telephone call or email from The Associated Press.

Last week, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told the Boston Herald he would block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant in the city.

In a letter sent from Menino to the restaurant chain on July 20, and then posted on a Boston city Facebook page, the mayor says, "incredibly - your company says you are backing out of the same-sex marriage debate. I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston... I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston. There is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressed similar sentiments to the Chicago Tribune, which first reported Moreno's efforts this week. He said the comments "disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents," and therefore building the restaurant in Chicago "would be a bad investment, since it would be empty."

On Wednesday, Moreno did not dispute that Cathy had the right to say what he said. But, Moreno said, "There are consequences for freedom of speech (and) in this case the consequences are... you're not going to have your first free-standing restaurant in Chicago."

Chick-fil-A has obtained a zoning permit for the restaurant but needs approval from the City Council to divide the land, Moreno said. And in a city where the City Council rarely go against the wishes of the alderman, Chick-fil-A needs Moreno's help.

Moreno said holding up construction would be as simple as refusing to introduce an ordinance to subdivide the land where Chick-fil-A wants to build.

He said he was not worried about being sued. First, he said, there are well-documented traffic and congestion issues in the Logan Square neighborhood that he could raise to justify his decision.

He added, "We have a responsibility to look at (whether companies) are responsible actors and responsible means not being discriminatory."

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