Chick-fil-A will most likely have a new location on Elston Avenue according to Alderman Joe Moreno


Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno

Chick-fil-A will probably be added to the businesses along Elston Ave. in the parking lot of the Home Depot, according to  1st Ward Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno.

The flapping of wings and clucking over statements from Dan Cathy, Pres. and COO of Chick-fil-A about the rights/appropriateness of same sex marriage has known no state boundaries recently. Mayors and other public officials have weighed in on the subject, often turning around and backing down on their first statements. Moreno jumped into a brush fire that has turned into a massive raging fire storm.

What has the coverage been across the country?

In case you have missed it, here is the statement that Cathy made in an article in the Baptist Press on July 16:  

"Some have opposed the company's support of the traditional family. 'Well, guilty as charged,' said Cathy when asked about the company's position.

'We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.

We operate as a family business ... our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,' Cathy emphasized."

Maureen Gill gave another perspective on "What the Bible says — and doesn’t say — about marriage" in LBGTQNation

On July 19, the Baptist Press reported:  

"The company issued a statement Thursday (July 19) telling its customers that 'going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena' and that its tradition is 'to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect -- regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.' It also noted that it has applied 'biblically-based principles' to business management and will continue to do so. There are more than 1,600 Chick-fil-A restaurants."

Two New York Times articles summed up a lot of statements from around the country. On July 25 and on July 30.


Cartoon by Scostt Stantis

Chicago Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis got in the act with his parody on the three cows "Eat Mo Chikin" and now the Chicago Sun-Times' Fran Spielman is reporting that the Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is being asked by the GOP to investigate Moreno for violating state human rights laws. 

NBC's Chris Matthews had Moreno on Hardball and pursued the issue of freedom of speech and the threat of government  retribution.

One point that almost no one has covered is the issue of the franchisees. They are entrepreneurs who's livelihood is based on their business and they conduct business via their own standards. Chicago's lone Chick-fil-A owners, Lauren and Steve Silich, posted their statement on Facebook and many have commented that, in essense, since they have bought into a company with such practices, that is their problem. The Silich statement includes:

"We are a family of deep Chicago roots - my husband and I both came from city worker families (teachers, police, laborers) and Steve is a city worker.

We are not a corporation - we are real people and taxpayers as each Chick-fil-A franchise is independently owned and operated. We are Chicagoans who are dedicated to serving our community. We hold fundraisers for hospitals, schools, fallen police and we donate to a wide variety of causes, including everything from churches to gay and lesbian organizations.

We alone created 97 jobs this past year and our passion is building leaders for future generations, regardless of sexual orientation or beliefs."

There are many more stories but, I think the above give the basics of the controversy.

Locally, how did all of this begin and how is this going to impact our area?

In an interview with the 1st Ward Alderman Tuesday night, July 31, he said that as of July 28 he was not saying anything more on the subject but that he would talk with this reporter. The next day was his interview with Matthews in which he pretty much repeated what he said Tuesday night.

Here is a series of questions Moreno answered and his other statements about the subject:

Q: "How did all this begin? Who initiated it?"

A: "About 8 to 9 months ago, they came to me wanting to open a Chick-fil-A. I had known at that time from some LGBT groups and others about comments made and millions of dollars given to anti-gay groups, focus on the family and things like that.

"Parallel to our discussions about what the building was going to look like and traffic patterns etc., I was having discussions with them about their corporate policies. Their response was 'a lot of that has been blown out of context and going forward the company has no position and will make no public statements about same-sex marriage, good bad or indifferent. And we will no longer fund groups of any political stripe, right, left or center. '

"Now I did not ask them to do that, they offered that. I said, 'Guys, I think we need to do more.'

"I wanted them to work with an LGBT group on the civil rights agenda. I got them introduced over email. This was all behind the scenes…nothing public at all."

Q: "You say they. Was this corporate or a franchisee?"

A: "Corporate. They create the stores then sell them for a fee to the franchisee or keep them. To this day, they have not told me if this is going to be corporate or franchise owned.

Q: "Where is this to be?"

A: "In the parking lot of Home Depot at 2570 N. Elston. I haven't brought this to the community because they do not have their final plans ready yet.  (Moreno's policy is to bring zoning change requests to the community in various types of meetings.)

"Then Mr. Cathy made his statements. They said they were not going to make statements like that and these were some very strong public statements. They didn't say 'I believe this.'  They said 'We believe in this and we believe in that.'

"So I said ok, 'You are entitled to your own beliefs and statements. It's not a freedom of speech issue or belief issue.'  But my concerns are whether those beliefs are engrained in corporate policy or a policy in their stores that would be discriminatory. And that is when I wrote my letter and everything started in the press.

"For 8-9 months I had been working on this and had made it clear to the LGBT civil rights group that this was not to be public. I told them that I wasn't going to use it as an issue or to rally the troops, I'm out there to find out from this company where they are on this subject.

"We were making progress. They seemed like good people.

"I think this is all going to become a plus. (He cited the Chick-fil-A Facebook and other statements like the July 19 one above.)

"I was asked, 'Isn't this good? They have put this statement out there.' I said, 'Yes but let's put that into a policy, in employee handbooks, in a mission statement so that we know that they are going to follow the laws of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.'

"I think that they are going to do that and that we are going to move forward and have that policy in black and white and crystal clear. I wanted to have it clear on the discriminatory policy side of things.

"I have never said that they can't believe what they want to believe or say what they want to say. Some in the media have tried to spin it that way. That is ok, that is politics.

"My dad is 100% Mexican and my mom is 100% white. When they got married in the early 60s, in some states people believed that was illegal. Some people believed it was an ungodly marriage…it was a civil rights issue. I think this is a civil rights issue of our day. They are never fought from behind, you always have to be in front of it.

"I'm not equating myself to the leaders of that movement but what I am saying, in a small way, if you want to do business in Chicago, you have to be open to all people and that includes people of different sexual orientation."

Q: Is the project still open.

A: "Yes."

Same sex marriage and other rights are emotional issues in the LBGT community just as other civil rights have been hot issues in the past relative to ethnicity, gender, religion and others. The rights of rights are often perched on a slippery slope. On one hand, as Christy Webber said, "Finally someone is standing up for us." On the other hand as a business owner, she is concerned about the rights of business owners too.

Share your opinion on all this in comments below or send me a letter to the editor.



Chick-fil-A will most likely have a new location on Elston

great post, very informative. I'm wondering why the opposite specialists of this sector don't understand this. You must continue your writing. I am confident, you have a great readers' base already!

Reply to comment | Our Urban Times

I every time spent my half an hour to read this webpage's articles every day along with a cup of coffee.

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