The owner of a Chicago Chick-fil-A franchise that created 97 jobs has a message for Mayor Rahm Emanuel – eat more chicken.
“I would like to invite Mayor Emanuel into my restaurant to meet me, my husband Steve, and my management staff,” said Lauren Silich in a letter posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
The invitation came after Emanuel declared that he would supports efforts by an alderman to block a second restaurant from being constructed because the Atlanta-based restaurant chain supports the biblical definition of marriage.
“Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” Emanuel said in a statement to Fox News, saying the comments “disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents.”
Alderman Joe Moreno said unless the company comes up with a written anti-discrimination policy, he would not allow Chick-fil-A to open its first free-standing restaurant in the city.
Silich said Chick-fil-A located in Loyola Water Tower has “been dedicated to serving all of our guests with honor, dignity and respect.”
“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,” she noted. She also said they’ve supported, hospitals, schools, churches and even LGBT groups.
“We alone created 97 jobs this past year and our passion is building leaders for future generations, regardless of sexual orientation or beliefs,” Silich noted. “We are not a corporation – we are real people and taxpayers as each Chick-fil-A franchise is independently owned and operated.”
Newspaper editorial boards and religious liberty organizations have blasted the Moreno’s declaration – calling it a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Mat Staver, president of the Liberty Counsel, said it’s unconstitutional.
“No city can ban Chick-fil-A because the president has his own view regarding marriage – a view that his held by much of the American public,” Staver told Fox News. “To discriminate against Mr. Cathy because of his biblical view and then to extrapolate that to Chick-fil-A is illegal. It would be unconstitutional and certainly any city trying to do so would not win that battle.”
Staver called Emanuel’s remarks offensive and accused the city of trying to “bully them into silence.”
“This is a very intolerant response by Rahm Emanuel and some of the others who are pushing back against Chick-fil-A,” he said. “It is absolutely incredible that we are at a point in history where an individual who is an owner of a company can express his view on marriage and get so much push back.”
Staver said there is absolutely no evidence that Chick-fil-A has discriminated against homosexuals. They serve all people equally, he said.
He also took issue with the idea that the restaurant’s values differ from those of Chicagoans.
“I imagine Chick-fil-A’s values are not Rahm Emanuel’s values, but I’m sure the values of Chick-fil-A resonate with a majority of people in Chicago,” Staver said.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said she was appalled by Emanuel’s statement.
“Chicago thuggery is a scary thing in 2012,” Palin told Fox News. “For its politicians to think they can muscle businesses and shut them out just because they hold a differing, albeit traditional, view on an issue is a scary thing indeed.”
Moreno said he does not dispute that the owner of Chick-fil-A has First Amendment rights – but, he warned, there are consequences.
“There are consequences for freedom of speech (and) in this case the consequences are…you’re not going to have your first free-standing restaurant in Chicago,” Moreno told Associated Press.
Regardless of what happens, Silich said they will still be serving chicken sandwiches and sweet tea.
“We will continue to serve our guests in the only way we know how – with great food, exceptional service and a lot of fun,” she wrote.
Last week, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told the Boston Herald he would block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant in the city. And city officials in Mountain View, Calif. are considering similar action.