Boston Mayor Thomas Menino acknowledged Thursday what Chicago Ald.Proco “Joe” Moreno, 1st, would not: He has no legal standing to block Chick-fil-A from doing business in his town because of the company president’s opinions on same-sex marriage.
Last week, Menino warned that “it will be very difficult” for Chick-fil-A to get the necessary licenses to operate in Boston. His letter urging President Dan Cathy to “back out of your plans to locate to Boston” was “liked” and retweeted countless times on social media sites, as were the links to stories about Moreno’s vow to keep the company out of Logan Square.
But Menino somehow came to his senses amid the applause. He still doesn’t want Chick-fil-A in Boston, he said, but he can’t ban it just because he disagrees with its political views. “I make mistakes all the time,” he said. “That’s a Menino-ism.”
Moreno, though, isn’t backing down. He’s scheduled to make his case Friday on both CNN and MSNBC.
Chick-fil-A wants to build a restaurant on North Elston Avenue, but it needs the City Council’s approval to buy a subdivided lot from Home Depot. By long-standing tradition, the council rarely grants such requests without the support of the local alderman.
If Moreno sticks to his guns, though, his colleagues will have to summon the courage to overrule him. If they don’t, they risk a costly lawsuit that positions the city (and its taxpayers) on the wrong side of the First Amendment. Moreno’s fallback defense, the all-purpose “traffic concerns,” isn’t going to fly after all his vehement public denunciations of Cathy’s “bigoted, homophobic comments.”