New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a staunch backer of marriage equality, indicated Friday that he would oppose any effort to block Chick-fil-A from expanding in the Big Apple because of the fast food chain owner’s personal stance against same-sex marriage.
The Politicker reports on the mayor’s comments during his weekly radio appearance on the John Gambling Show on WOR. He spoke in response to the growing movement from mayors in other cities, including Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, to prevent the company from operating in their areas because of the views expressed by president and CEO Dan Cathay, who has donated millions to antigay groups.
“They’re all friends but I disagree with them really strongly on this one,” Mr. Bloomberg said about the other mayors. The group includes Rahm Emanuel, who joined Bloomberg this year as a founding member of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry coalition.
“You can’t have a test for what the owners’ personal views are before you decide to give a permit to do something in the city," said Bloomberg. "You really don’t want to ask political beliefs or religious beliefs before you issue a permit, that’s just not government’s job.”
The billionaire media mogul is known for his independent stances and defense of unpopular views. He strongly backed marriage equality legislation in New York with fund-raising and lobbying, and blasted the passage of Amendment 1 in a commencement speech at the University of North Carolina, but this week he endorsed U.S. Senator Scott Brown for re-election in his campaign against Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts Republican voted for “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal but has been evasive about his position on repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, calling it a “pet project” in an guest column for the New England LGBT publication Bay Windows. Bloomberg this week joined City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in filing a brief to ask the Supreme Court to hear the DOMA challenge of their constituent Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old lesbian widow.
During the radio show, the mayor warned that blocking a business because of its political views could set a dangerous precedent that might work against marriage equality advocates one day.
“Freedom of speech — everybody’s in favor of it as long as it’s what they want to hear,” he said, the Politicker reported. “Well the only way that you have your freedom of speech is if you give other people freedom of speech. … This is just a bad idea and it’s not going to happen in New York City.”
The mayor, an aggressive advocate against obesity, has stoked controversy with his proposal to restrict the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in the city’s restaurants, but he said he was unaware of the Chick-fil-A menu. The only outpost of the fast food chain in New York state is located at the New York University campus in Manhattan, where it has been the subject of protests because of Cathy’s stances.