LOMBARD, Ill. (CBS) — A Lombard village trustee who also serves as the attorney for a conservative religious law firm is publicly defending Chick-Fil-A, after Chicago Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) announced he would block the fast food restaurant from opening in his ward over the company’s opposition to gay rights.
Lombard village trustee Peter Breen is arguing that Moreno is promoting an ideological agenda by opposing a permit application by Chick-Fil-A. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spoken in support of Moreno’s decision.
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But Breen argued that Moreno’s move at its heart intolerant and bigoted against Chick-Fil-A and its owners.
“Unlike the City of Chicago’s values as laid out by Mayor Emanuel, Lombard values freedom of expression. We value a diversity of opinions, and we’re going to focus on a pro-business and pro-jobs agenda,” Breen said.
Earlier this week, former Arkansas governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee called for a Chick-Fil-A appreciation day next Wednesday, defending the Georgia-based fast food chain from what he called “vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry” by those who are accusing the company of homophobia.
Breen says he will ask Lombard village trustees to support Huckabee’s Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.
The Thomas More Society for which Breen serves as attorney also happens to be defending the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, against lawsuits by the gay rights law firm Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union seeking to overturn the ban.
Moreno earlier this week announced that he would be blocking Chick-Fil-A from opening its second Chicago city location in his ward, in the 2500 block of North Elston Avenue, because of the anti-gay philosophy articulated by the company’s president.
“I’m not going to sit on the sidelines, and allow them to come in, when I know in my heart that they believe in discriminating against gay people,” Moreno said Wednesday.
Moreno has said he also has concerns about the traffic a drive-through Chick-Fil-A would create in the ward, but his most vocal objection to date has been Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy’s public comments opposing same-sex marriage.
The comments were published last week in an article on the Christian news site Baptist Press.
The article notes that some have opposed Chick-Fil-A’s “support for the traditional family,” and goes on to quote Cathy as saying, “Guilty as charged.”
Cathy is quoted further in the July 16 Baptist Press article: “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.”
Cathy further expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage in an interview last month on the radio program “The Ken Coleman Show.”
“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about,” Cathy said on the radio program.
Moreno has received kudos from many supporters for his stance against Chick-Fil-A, but opponents claim he is violating the company’s First Amendment rights. On Thursday, Ald. Danny Solis (25th) who chairs the City Council Zoning Committee, said Thursday if Moreno’s only objection to Chick-Fil-A is its opposition to same-sex marriage, he’d have to override Moreno’s “aldermanic privilege” regarding zoning for the restaurant.
Chick-Fil-A currently operates only one location within the Chicago city limits, at 30 E. Chicago Ave.