NYC City Council Speaker pressing Chick-fil-A to get out of town

By Jonathan Terbush
Sunday, July 29, 2012 12:38 EDT
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A sad-looking Chick-fil-A mascot, on Dec. 23, 2006. Flickr commons.
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One week after Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told anti-gay marriage fast food chain Chick-fil-A to stay out of the city, New York City’s City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is going one step further, asking that the lone outpost already in New York hit the road.

Quinn, who is considered a leading contender to replace Mayor Michel Bloomberg next year, sent a letter to the president of New York University imploring him to sever ties with the chain and effectively remove the restaurant entirely from the city.

“Let me be clear,” Quinn wrote. “I do not want establishments in my city that hold such discriminatory views. We are a city that believes our diversity is our greatest strength and we will fight anything and anyone that runs counter to that.”

Chick-fil-A has a long history of donating money to right-wing Christian groups and anti-gay marriage organizations. In 2009 alone, the company sent $1.7 million to such causes. The furor over the chain’s traditionalist beliefs boiled over a few weeks ago though, when Chick-fil-A President and CEO Dan Cathy told an interviewer from the Baptist Press that he was, “guilty as charged,” of allegations that he opposes same-sex marriage, prompting a backlash from politicians, activists and even the Muppets.

Should the chain get booted, Quinn asked NYU’s president to bring in a more tolerant business in its place, and to retain Chick-fil-A’s workers as employees of whatever restaurant takes over the space. On Saturday, she also started an online petition calling for Cathy to apologize and, “change his position” on same-sex marriage.

Quinn’s stance is at odds with Bloomberg, who said in an interview Friday that a business’ politics should not impact how they are treated by the government. That’s the same reasoning put forth by Menino who, though he told Chick-fil-A it wasn’t welcome in Boston, later admitted that it would be wrong to block the chain from obtaining the proper permits because of its owner’s politics.

Currently, the Chick-fil-A at New York University is the only branch anywhere in the city. Back in March, NYU students protested the chain’s presence on campus, pressuring the student council to ban it. The council ultimately voted to let the chain stay, arguing that banning a business because of its owner’s beliefs would be an assault on personal freedom of expression.

Jonathan Terbush
Jonathan Terbush
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
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