Hizzoner Says Politicians Can't Base Business Decisions On Personal Views

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Anti-same sex marriage comments from fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A has sparked a nationwide freedom of speech debate.

Several mayors across the country have said they’d like to block the chain from getting permits to expand, while New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking a different stand, CBS 2’s Emily Smith reported.

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To its customers, Chick-Fil-A is a one-of-a-kind fast-food fix.

“I think it’s spicy and it has the waffle fries they have with it and the sauces,” area resident David Daniels said Friday.

However, the chicken chain is in hot oil right now after making headlines not for its food, but its owner’s staunch opposition to same-sex marriage. Chick-Fil-A company president Dan Cathy recently said that the chain defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Since then, protests have erupted, including one at a store opening in Laguna Hills, Calif. Cathy’s comments drew strong reaction from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, and the mayors of Boston and San Francisco, as well as local officials in those cities, over Chick-Fil-A’s plans to go ahead and try to open another restaurant there.

“I’m not going to sit on the sidelines and allow them to come in when I know in my heart that they believe in discrimination against gay people,” Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno said.

On Friday, Mayor Bloomberg jumped into the fray, questioning his mayoral colleagues.

“You can’t have a test for the owner’s personal views before you give a permit to do something in the city,” Bloomberg said during his address on WOR Radio. “Trampling on the freedom to marry who you want is the same as trampling on someone’s right to open a store.”

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While many customers disagree with the chain’s stance, they said they don’t feel the business should be barred from operating.

“They should absolutely function as a business, but every consumer makes their own choice about where they should spend their money,” said Elaine Beigelman of Greenwich Village.

“I don’t agree with Mr. Bloomberg, but on this point I do. It’s a business that should be able to operate no matter what their politics are,” said Steve Poppick of Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.

Chick-Fil-A released a statement saying: “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

The only Chick-Fil-A in New York City is inside NYU. As for more popping up in the city, Mayor Bloomberg said it would be inappropriate to consider religious or political views in making that decision.

All three mayors who’d like to prevent Chick-Fil-A from expanding realize it is not within a mayor’s power to deny permits to a company based on personal beliefs, but is within their power to express disapproval.

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