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When Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy said he supports biblical marriage between a man and a woman – rather than homosexual marriage – several U.S. mayors threatened to ban the fast-food chain from coming to their cities.
But would such a move be legal?
Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver told WND's Greg Corombos that city bans on Chick-fil-A would be unconstitutional.
He said this reaction proves that homosexual activists are militantly intolerant and are interested in intimidating and silencing critics rather than engaging in an actual debate.
Boycotts were called, homosexuals threatened to hold kiss-ins at Chick-fil-A restaurants and at least three big-city mayors blasted the fast-food chain: Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee.
Emanuel declared that "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values." Emanuel's spokeswoman later said the mayor wouldn't stop Chick-fil-A from opening a new restaurant.
In a letter to Cathy, Menino wrote, "There is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it." Menino later said he was expressing his own opinion and couldn't stop Chick-fil-A from coming to Boston.
Lee tweeted: "Closest (hash)ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer."
Staver said threats to ban Chick-fil-A from cities are irresponsible, and blocking a business from opening due to the personal beliefs of its leader would be discriminatory and, therefore, illegal.
"It's a wake-up call to all of us who have biblical values and share these moral principles that natural marriage is a union of one man, one woman," Staver said. "[W]e're facing a very intolerant movement that wants to silence biblical views and views on natural marriage and morality.
"Here we have the president of Chick-fil-A, a privately owned, family run business, who expresses in an interview – based upon the Bible – that natural marriage is the union of one man and one woman. As a result of that, a firestorm breaks out and you have government officials, such as the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, and the mayor of Boston, Mayor Tom Menino, and you also have the alderman in Chicago, all of whom are saying that Chick-fil-A cannot do business in their cities – that they're not going to allow them to have a business permit, zoning permit. They're going to block them from having a Chick-fil-A restaurant.
"That's absolutely outrageous, and it should be a wake-up call to every American and everyone who believes in liberty and freedom."
Staver said the belief that marriage is a union of one man and one woman has been shared by various cultures and religions throughout history.
"It's common sense and part of who we are as Americans and as individuals around the world," he said. "Now Mayor Rahm Emanuel says that those values are incompatible with the values of Chicagoans. They may be incompatible with Rahm Emanuel's values, but they're certainly compatible with most of Chicagoans and most of America."
He noted that many legal professionals have condemned the mayors' threats to block Chick-fil-A from their cities.
"These statements should not be made by government officials," he argued. "These statements are the height of discrimination, and they simply undermine the Constitution. They are absolutely uncalled for, and these individuals ought to be ashamed that they even made these kinds of statements against Chick-fil-A, Mr. Cathy or anyone else who hold those views while they were in their government position."
Staver noted that UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has written an article saying the mayors have opened up their cities to criticism and even litigation because of their threats. He said even the ACLU condemned the statements. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – despite his own support of same-sex marriage – said he disagrees with his fellow mayors.
Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show on WOR that it is wrong for the government "to look at somebody's political views and decide whether or not they can live in the city, or operate a business in the city, or work for somebody in the city."
Even Richard Socarides, a New York lawyer and former Clinton White House adviser on homosexual "rights" who is calling for a boycott of Chick-fil-A, told the Associated Press cities cannot regulate speech by denying business permits based on political beliefs.
Staver said, "Every person from left to right and anything in between – within the legal arena, law professors and public-interest organizations – has said that these are outrageous, they're uncalled for, and they cross the line. Government officials should not censor what you're doing, in your speech, in your private views, and therefore try to hold over you an opposition to even do business."
Staver warned that the homosexual-marriage movement is not about "tolerance."
"This is not about what two people want to do in the privacy of their own home," he said. "This is an ideological clash of unprecedented proportions. There will be one winner, and there will be one loser. …
"I'm not optimistic that it's going to tone down any time soon. But what I am saying is that we need to be vigilant, and Liberty Council is ready to not only educate but also to defend the line. This is a battle that we cannot lose … This is a battle that is absolutely intent on silencing biblical viewpoints."