By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com August 03 2012 2:49 PM ET
Chicago continues to be one of the centers of Chick-fil-A controversy, with a local LGBT rights group filing legal complaints against the company and the head of the city’s Roman Catholic archdiocese defending it.
The Civil Rights Agenda filed multiple complaints Thursday with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, saying among other things that the fast-food chain’s “intolerant corporate culture” violates the Illinois Human Rights Act, which prohibits a “public accommodation” from making protected classes “unwelcome, objectionable or unacceptable.”
The company, with its donations to antigay groups and executives’ stated opposition to LGBT rights, “has announced and caused to be published, to hundreds of millions of people, that LGBT people are unacceptable and objectionable,” said Jacob Meister, the Civil Rights Agenda’s governing board president and the attorney who filed the complaints.
Anthony Martinez, the Civil Rights Agenda’s executive director, said the issue is “not freedom of speech or religious liberty as some might suggest. This is about Chick-fil-A having a policy, a corporate culture, which promotes discrimination.”
The group has been working with City Council member Joe Moreno, who opposes the opening of a Chick-fil-A in his ward. The organization and the alderman originally sought to persuade the company to adopt an LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination policy and institute diversity training, but the talks stalled when news of Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s antigay statements broke, Meister said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has also criticized the company, saying its values “are not Chicago values,” prompting a response from Cardinal Francis George, the city’s Catholic archbishop.
“My understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval,” the cardinal wrote on the archdiocese’s blog. He continues, “The value in question is espousal of ‘gender-free marriage.’ Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus.”
He goes on to claim that same-sex unions are “not physically marital” and adds, “‘Gender-free marriage’ is a contradiction in terms, like a square circle.” Read the full post here.