Attempts by Chicago and Boston politicians to block the opening of Chick-fil-A restaurants because of the company president's views on marriage would be unconstitutional and also set a dangerous precedent for other businesses, say several attorneys.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel each have been quoted as saying they want to prevent Chick-fil-As from opening in their cities, with Menino declaring in a letter to Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, "There is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it." The Freedom Trail is a path through the city's streets highlighting historic buildings. Emanuel voiced agreement with a Chicago alderman who also opposes a new Chick-fil-A, saying of the company, "They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents."
Cathy, in two interviews in recent weeks—including onere-postedon Baptist Press—has said he believes in the biblical definition of marriage. The company issued a statement saying it treats every customer with "honor, dignity and respect" and that, "going forward," it is going to stay out of the gay marriage debate.
David Cortman, an attorney with the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said a restaurant cannot be blocked from opening because of the restaurant's or the owner's beliefs.
"It absolutely is not constitutional," Cortman told Baptist Press. "And I think the irony here is that they are claiming this is an issue of freedom and civil rights, but they're actually the ones who would be violating the civil rights of Chick-fil-A not to allow them to open up their business simply because of their views."
But the issue concerns more than just Chick-fil-A, Cortman said, and impacts ...1