Civil Liberties

Chicago Alderman's Win over Chick-fil-A Nothing to Cheer About

Free speech takes a hit that has the potential to backfire on gay marriage supporters

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Kissing the First Amendment goodbye

Well, this is a victory to be celebrated by nobody, nowhere: A Chicago alderman is dropping his objection to a Chick-fil-A building a restaurant in his district in exchange for the company agreeing not to donate money to groups that oppose same-sex marriage. Via the Chicago Tribune (registration required):

Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno, 1st, said the restaurant has agreed to include a statement of respect for all sexual orientations in an internal document and promised that its not-for-profit arm would not contribute money to groups that oppose gay marriage.

Though Moreno said he scored a "big win," the company made nearly identical pledges in a July 19 Facebook post that went up even before Moreno took issue with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's opposition to gay marriage.

The statement of respect also falls short of Moreno's goal of adding language opposing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to the company's employee handbook.

Just to make it clear, Moreno was going to block this restaurant not because of issues with infrastructure or traffic issues or safety or any actual matter of municipal governance. He was going to block the construction of this restaurant because he objected to the political positions of the company owners and their constitutionally protected speech in the form of donations. This is not something supporters of gay marriage should be proud of. It is something to be terrified of. It is a weapon that can be used against anybody whose political views fall within the minority in the communities in which they live.

If there's any upside to this, I can't imagine how this agreement could actually be legally enforced. After the restaurant opens, Chick-fil-A could donate money to every hate group that gives the Southern Poverty Law Center the vapors, and what would Moreno do about it?

Read all our previous coverage of the Chick-fil-A controversy here.