More on Mayor Benito Menino:
Mayor plays chicken.
We’re trying to imagine a big-city mayor telling the world that he refuses to grant government permits to a restaurant business whose CEO happens to support gay marriage. The condemnation of such an abuse of government power would be swift, overwhelming and appropriate.
But Boston Mayor Tom Menino apparently doesn’t see any problem using the power of his government office to issue threats to a private company whose CEO does not happen to share the mayor’s own personal or political views.
After depriving one Boston neighborhood of a much-needed grocery store because he opposes Walmart’s labor policies, Menino is now turning his attention to Chick-fil-A, proclaiming that it will be a cold day in hell before one of its restaurants will be allowed to open near Faneuil Hall.
“You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population,” Menino huffed, adding, “If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies.”
Their “policies,” as far as we can tell, include 1) selling chicken and 2) closing on Sundays because their religious CEO believes his employees should spend time with their families.
What Menino really objects to are CEO Dan Cathy’s personal beliefs as well as his public statements in opposition to same-sex marriage. He may also object to the money that Cathy’s private foundation has donated to Christian and pro-family (anti-gay, to opponents) groups.
None of that amounts to a discriminatory company “policy.”
But in Menino’s city (and yes, if he can withhold permits on a subjective basis, it is indeed “Menino’s city”) the punishment for failing to toe the progressive line is banishment.
Northeastern University students recently talked administrators out of putting Chick-fil-A in a student center based on the same concerns over Cathy’s beliefs. But that was the decision of a private institution. This kind of threat from a powerful government official is not only an embarrassment, if carried out it would likely violate Cathy’s constitutional rights. We wouldn’t blame Chick-fil-A and its prospective landlord if they decided it wasn’t worth the fight; clearly that is what Menino is hoping, too.