Two sure signs that we’re past the “earnest debate” stage of this story and firmly into “people milking it for advantage” territory. One: Menino sent his letter to Chick-fil-A fully five days ago but only today, apparently, did a copy turn up on Boston’s official community Facebook page. Sounds like somebody’s enjoying their star turn as new SSM hero and is looking to stretch the grandstanding a bit. Two: I’m doing my second post on this topic in less than four hours. What can I say? I whiffed traffic-wise on the Ted Cruz post and the Scott Walker post. If you guys want to take batting practice on Menino and Chick-fil-A instead, I’ll pitch.
Here is Menino’s letter to Cathy:
To Mr. Cathy,
In recent days, you said Chick-fil-A opposes same-sex marriage and said the generation that supports it has an “arrogant attitude.”
Now — 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.
You called supporters of gay marriage “prideful.” Here in Boston, to borrow your own words, we are “guilty as charged.” We are indeed full of pride for our support of same sex marriage and our work to expand freedom to all people. We are proud that our state and our city have led the way for the country on equal marriage rights.
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. When Massachusetts became the first state in the country to recognize equal marriage rights, I personally stood on City Hall Plaza to greet same sex couples coming here to be married. It would be an insult to them and to our city’s long history of expanding freedom to have a Chick-fil-A across the street from that spot.
Thomas M. Menino
Mayor, City of Boston
There’s no place for freedom to disagree on the Freedom Trail?
I wonder if he knows that barring Chick-fil-A would be unconstitutional. There’s just enough ambiguity in that letter to suggest that he does — he’s telling them they’re not welcome, not warning them that he’ll challenge them legally — but who knows. Would any Boston liberals object if he did file suit to try to stop them, full in the knowledge that he’s doomed to fail?
Actually, the Boston Globe editorial board would:
[W]hich part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand? A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license.
Chick-fil-A must follow all state and city laws. If the restaurant chain denied service to gay patrons or refused to hire gay employees, Menino’s outrage would be fitting. And the company should be held to its statement that it strives to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender.” But beyond the fact that Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, the religious beliefs of the company’s top executive don’t appear to control its operations…
If the mayor of a conservative town tried to keep out gay-friendly Starbucks or Apple, it would be an outrage.
Ironically, Menino is citing the specific location along the Freedom Trail as a reason to block Chick-fil-A. A city in which business owners must pass a political litmus test is the antithesis of what the Freedom Trail represents. History will render judgment on the views of Chick-fil-A executives. City Hall doesn’t have to.
Is the Globe editorial page normally that righteous or did it take an unusual expression of schmuckery from Mayor Mumbles to drive them to it? I think I know the answer, but I figured I should put that out there for Bostonians. Exit question: Tom Menino, the worst big-city mayor in America? Exit answer: Not on your life.
Update: From Cuffy Meigs: