CHICAGO (CBS) — The local Chick-Fil-A controversy seemed to be settled around this time last week, when Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) said he had made peace with the fast food chain, following what he said was its new pledge regarding gay rights issues.
But following a statement by Chick-Fil-A saying it had made no “concessions,” the heated controversy has erupted again. Moreno is now reconsidering his decision to give Chick-Fil-A his blessing.
Last week, the Chicago Phoenix reported that Moreno had received a letter signed by the senior director of real estate at Chick-Fil-A, in which the chain pledged to “respect” all sexual orientations and end donations to anti-gay organizations. In response, the alderman said he would give Chick-Fil-A the green light to open a new location in his ward, two months after saying he would block the restaurant and deny it a zoning permit.
WinShape has made headlines for donating to companies that oppose same-sex marriage and gay rights — including Exodus International – a proponent of “reparative therapy” for homosexuality, and the Family Research Council, which was listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center two years ago, according to published reports.
The letter said WinShape Foundations – the company’s charitable arm – will take “a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping,” the Phoenix reported.
Huckabee, who organized the “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” when the fast food chain was under fire for its president’s comments about gay marriage, said nothing had changed and Chick-Fil-A had made no concessions.
In a statement released on his Web site Friday, Huckabee said he had talked earlier in the day with Cathy, about reports that Chick-Fil-A had, in Huckabee’s words, “capitulated to demands of the supporters of same-sex marriage.”
“There continues to be erroneous implications in the media that Chick-fil-A changed our practices and priorities in order to obtain permission for a new restaurant in Chicago. That is incorrect,” a statement from Chick-Fil-A published by Huckabee said. “Chick-Fil-A made no such concessions, and we remain true to who we are and who we have been.”
Moreno was not pleased. In a Tumblr report, he expressed doubt about whether Chick-Fil-A executives were telling the whole truth in their lette to his office. He called on Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy to clear it all up.
“Dan Cathy decided to make a PUBLIC statement to Mike Huckabee that, at the least, muddied the progress we had made with Chick-Fil-A and, at the worst, contradicted the documents and promises Chick-Fil-A made to me and the community earlier this month,” Moreno wrote in his 1st Ward Report Tumblr. “Since Mr. Cathy made a PUBLIC statement, I am PUBLICLY asking him to confirm and support what I was told and shown by his company representatives.”
He asked Cathy to confirm publicly that the WinShape Foundation would not support organizations with “political agendas” – a category Moreno said he was told included anti-gay groups. He also asked Cathy to confirm that Chick-Fil-A had delivered a letter saying as much, and also to confirm that the company had developed a policy of “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect- regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender” as he says company officials told him.
Moreno accused Cathy of wanting to “confuse people,” and asked the Chick-Fil-A president to confirm or deny the reported pledge regarding gay rights once and for all.
“It is pretty simple, Mr. Cathy. Do you acknowledge and support the policies that your executives outlined to me in writing or do you not? Yes or no?” Moreno wrote. “If not, Chick-Fil-A is a business that practices irresponsible, and potentially illegal, business standards.”
Moreno also wrote that even though he has now provided a letter of support, he is no longer so certain that he will be supporting a new Chick-Fil-A in his ward.
“I still need to introduce legislation to make the Chick-fil-A in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago a reality,” Moreno wrote. “I will wait to see what Mr. Cathy’s next PUBLIC statement is, and reflect on that statement before moving forward with appropriate legislation.”
The controversy all started in Chicago back in July, when n response to an article profiling the company ran in July 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.”
Afterward, Moreno said he would not grant the zoning permit for a Chick-Fil-A in the 2500 block of North Elston Avenue. While Cathy’s comments have been presented as being only his personal views, Moreno said last week that he is unconvinced that Chick-Fil-A will not discriminate against the LGBT community.
Supporters of Chick-Fil-A said Moreno’s plan to deny the permit would have amounted to illegal censorship, and that the comments about same-sex marriage were Cathy’s alone and not representative of any company policy. But Moreno said at the time that he was not convinced that Chick-Fil-A would not discriminate.