Chick-fil-A | Christine Quinn | New York | News

NYC City Council Speaker Christine Quinn Asks NYU President to Kick Chick-fil-A Off its Campus

NYC City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is urging New York University, which rents space to the city's only Chick-fil-A restaurant, to kick the franchise off its campus because of its support for anti-gay causes.

QuinnSays Quinn, in part, in a letter sent today to NYU President John Sexton:

NYC is a place where we celebrate diversity. We do not believe in denigrating others...As you know from recent press coverage, the President of Chick-fil-A continues to make statements and support causes that are clear messages of extreme intolerance and homophobia and a belief that LGBT Americans are less than others and deserve to be treated as such.

Let me be clear -- I do not want establishments in my city that hold such discriminatory views.

I urge you to sever your relationship with the Chick-fil-A establishment that exists on your campus. This establishment should be replaced with an establishment where the ownership does not denigrate a portion of our population.

Quinn's full letter, AFTER THE JUMP...

Quinn's move comes a day after NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters that it's "not government's job" to block businesses based on their political beliefs.

However, it's unclear how Chick-fil-A's position might fare under the auspices of a university that strives not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Quinn has also started a petition on demanding Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy apologize and change his position.

Quinn Letter to Sexton

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  1. A Chick-fil-a team-member agrees with a customer who says that a gay boycott will purge the restaurant of "FILTH" that is dangerous to children:

    Posted by: Johnson | Jul 28, 2012 4:15:00 PM

  2. I don't see the relevance of NYU's anti-discrimination policy. I've seen no indication in any news reports that Chick-Fil-A has engaged in discriminatory practices, either in hiring/firing decisions or in refusing service to any customer because of sex/sexuality/race/etc.

    What Quinn and others are advocating is totally antithetical to the First Amendment. The government should not be seeking to discriminate against businesses whose owners support particular political causes. Of course, that's not to say that NYU students can't boycott the restaurant and try to drive it out of business, but that would be consistent with actions protected by the First Amendment.

    Quinn's just wrong, and I hope she wises up to just how wrong she is soon.

    Posted by: Yeah, but | Jul 28, 2012 4:38:39 PM

  3. To follow up on this statement: "it's unclear how Chick-fil-A's position might fare under the auspices of a university that strives not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation."

    It is clear. Chick-fil-A would still be right, and would win in a cakewalk if this were to be litigated. Again, there is zero indication that Chick-fil-A has engaged in any discriminatory practices.

    Posted by: Yeah, but | Jul 28, 2012 4:41:29 PM

  4. Slippery, slippery slope.
    Try and remember what happens when people say "I don't want those gays and their business in my neighborhood". The Cathys and Chik fil A are horrible, but they are not doing anything illegal.
    The price of free speech is having to take the bad with the good. Personally, I think that Dan Cathy is digging his own grave, and I'm happy to sit back and let him do it. If you don't want Chik fil A around, then don't buy their food and encourage others to do the same.
    It's not hard.
    Their food is awful.

    Posted by: Abie | Jul 28, 2012 4:43:52 PM

  5. Maybe Quinn's next letter will ask Sexton to fire any NYU professors who have donated money to political candidates who oppose marriage equality.

    Posted by: Yeah, but | Jul 28, 2012 4:47:59 PM

  6. You people have no guts.


    You're just doormats.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 28, 2012 4:48:48 PM

  7. Absolutely not. The first amendment specifically prohibits government punishment for speech, and you cat get any more direct than this ..Quinn is trying to put someone out of business because of what he said.

    If people do it, citizens unite and stop buying their product, that is one thing. If government does it that is another.

    @david ehrenstein. Are you actually calling people doormats for understanding t he constitution? Take 5th grade civics class, then come back and talk with the grown ups. Until then, real activism requires knowledge of the government and acceptance that others have rights too.

    Posted by: Chris | Jul 28, 2012 4:55:11 PM

  8. @Yeah But.... If you don't see any discrimination in hiring, franchising or service by Chick-Fil-A, you just haven't been looking very hard.

    "Chick-fil-A continued over the weekend to defend itself against charges that the Atlanta-based restaurant chain is anti-gay, with its president contradicting his own family foundation about whether it accepts gay couples."

    "The company’s Christian culture and its strict hiring practices, which require potential operators to discuss their marital status and civic and church involvement, have attracted controversy before, including a 2002 lawsuit brought by a Muslim restaurant owner in Houston who said he was fired because he did not pray to Jesus with other employees at a training session. The suit was settled"

    Few knew that founder Truett Cathy had firm opinions about the personal lives of the owners of Chick-fil-A’s 1,600 franchises and their employees. He preferred them married, and expected adherence to the company’s stated mission to “glorify God.”

    “Family members of prospective operators — children, even — are frequently interviewed so Cathy and his family can learn more about job candidates and their relationships at home,” Forbes reported in 2007, when Cathy was 86.

    " 'If a man can't manage his own life, he can't manage a business,’ says Cathy, who says he would probably fire an employee or terminate an operator who ‘has been sinful or done something harmful to their family members.’ "

    Posted by: Tim NC | Jul 28, 2012 4:56:16 PM

  9. Ask Chick-Fil-A how may franchise owners are LGBT or how many are Jewish, Muslim, atheists or just not evangelical Christians.

    Ask Chick-Fil-A if they have corporate anti-discrimination policies in Atlanta that address sexual orientation and gender identity.

    Posted by: Tim NC | Jul 28, 2012 4:59:21 PM

  10. @Tim NC - the only link you posted there that suggests active discrimination involves a lawsuit from 10 years ago. The mention of hiring practices there refers to "operators," not employees. Likely, this takes Chick-fil-A's practices outside the scope of Title VII (for somewhat technical employment law reasons), though could still violate local ordinances. In any event, none of those articles suggests a pattern of discrimination in hiring practices (which would obviously be very troubling).

    At the end of the day, the basis for Quinn seeking to get rid of Chick-fil-A is because of the opinions and donations of its owner; a government official should know that this would violate the First Amendment.

    Posted by: Yeah, but | Jul 28, 2012 5:06:08 PM

  11. @Tim NC - Again, you can boycott Chick-fil-A because it doesn't like gays, but the government cannot refuse to issue/revoke permits b/c of that. This is what the First Amendment is for; Abie's point re: a slippery slope here is right. Do we want anti-gay mayors to tell pro-gay businesses they can't open in their cities?

    Posted by: Yeah, but | Jul 28, 2012 5:08:47 PM

  12. If the students, faculty, and staff at NYU stop eating at the CFA unit on campus, it will close due to lack of business. This would be a far, far better way to "remove" them from campus because it would show how the market works when a business's public statements make customers and potential customers stay away.

    Posted by: james | Jul 28, 2012 5:12:38 PM

  13. @Yeah, But.... An "operator" is a franchise owner. Chick-Fil-A discriminates in who it will sell a franchise license to. They interview their franchise candidates about their religious beliefs and family life. How is that relevant other than to discriminate against non evangelical Christians?

    Which part of the last link where Cathy admits he would fire an employee for "sinful" behavior do you not understand as discriminatory?

    The first link I posted showed that the family foundation WinShape provides family counseling services but refused those services to gay couples. That is discrimination to "customers".

    Posted by: Tim NC | Jul 28, 2012 5:18:11 PM

  14. uuugh ... politicians! such posturing... things that she could actually do, she dodges (for instance bringing to a vote the proposal supported by gloria steinem). but things that she can't do, well by golly, let me do some grandstanding. she's better than this and i'm a bit disappointed.

    as much as the views of this company's president are hurtful and erroneous, i think it's more important to uphold our free speech principles.

    how would we have reacted if this city's city council president urged nyu to kick out a company because the owner held pro-gay views???

    new york state and nyu prohibit discrimination; if the company hasn't broken any laws, i don't see how they can get kicked out "just" because the president of the company expresses anti-gay opinions.

    that's why we freaking have FIRST amendment rights. if you want to hurt cathy, then by all means, exercise your own free speech rights: boycott his chain, organize protests, right op-eds, etc.

    but what quinn is doing is more akin to political posturing in my opinion...

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | Jul 28, 2012 5:22:22 PM

  15. david is the only one of you making sense

    leadership should be the voice of their constituency. EVERY progressive leader should be making this stance. it is not a law, it is a position. learn the difference.

    Posted by: mld | Jul 28, 2012 5:22:25 PM

  16. *write op-eds (and preferably write right ones too!)

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | Jul 28, 2012 5:23:57 PM

  17. For your FACEBOOK protest...pass it on...

    Posted by: CB | Jul 28, 2012 5:25:12 PM

  18. @Yeah, But..... There have been other examples on other blogs. I just don't have the links for them. In one case a woman was fired because the company thought she needed to be a "stay-at-home" mom. In another case a 32 year old man was fired because he was still single at 32 (they presumed that meant he was gay). Like I said, if you can't find discrimination, you just are looking very hard to find it.

    Does Chick-Fil-A have corporate policies banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity? No, they don't. HRC gives them a ZERO rating. So, they have no policies. Any statement they have made about discrimination since this most recent controversy erupted has only addressed customers. They have not made any statement addressing employees or Franchisees.

    Posted by: Tim NC | Jul 28, 2012 5:25:39 PM

  19. When Woolworth's treated African Americans poorly, they staged sit-ins. I believe that kind of tactic would still work today.

    It's called civil disobedience. It works.

    Posted by: Johnson | Jul 28, 2012 5:27:20 PM

  20. @Tim NC - No reported cases of discrimination in selecting franchisees in any link you provided. He apparently gave a Muslim a franchise according to the NYT article, in fact.

    WinShape isn't Chick-fil-A. And whether refusing services to gay couples is a question of local law - wouldn't be discrimination under federal law.

    You haven't challenged my main point - a government entity may not discriminate against a company because of the political/religious beliefs of its owners. Do you not recognize the slippery slope problem here? Do you actually think this would be a good precedent to set?

    Any time the ACLU takes a position that's at odds with advancing LGBT rights, you can be pretty sure the LGBT folks are in the wrong legally (again, I'm all for trying to drive Chick-fil-A out of town, but through legal means only).

    Posted by: Yeah, but | Jul 28, 2012 5:27:26 PM

  21. You go in, purchase a waffle-fry or whatever, and spend six hours eating it. You go to the drive-through window and take your time reading the menu and ask lots of questions about the food before deciding you don't want to order anything.

    Posted by: Johnson | Jul 28, 2012 5:28:51 PM

  22. Remember, Chick-fil-a operatives are working overtime on comments all over the internet. They are trying to DISCOURAGE you. Have COURAGE instead, things CAN and WILL change, but we must make them change.

    Posted by: Johnson | Jul 28, 2012 5:31:37 PM

  23. @MLD A politician should be asking people to do something that's plainly unconstitutional? And shouldn't be bothered to concern herself with that fact? Do we want the city to expend resources defending a lawsuit it has no chance of winning?

    You may want to note that Mayors Menino and Emanuel both immediately backed off their positions (similar to Quinn's) once it was pointed out to them that they were advocating something that's plainly unconstitutional.

    @Tim NC - EVERY single big company gets sued for this kind of stuff. Ho hum. A couple of isolated lawsuits every once in a blue moon doesn't suggest a pattern of discriminatory practices. I'm sure you could find tons of similar lawsuits filed against McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, etc.

    Posted by: Yeah, but | Jul 28, 2012 5:39:29 PM

  24. Let's be honest, as an American, Cathy is entitled to his opinion, and he's entitled to talk about it, to donate to whomever he likes, and to use his private company to do whatever he wants to do (that remains legal). He doesn't need to apologize for what he thinks, though the rest of us will hold him responsible for his views since he is both adamant, public, and seeks to impose his views on others. The bottom line is that Cathy is a bigot and his views and actiosn are plainly unAmerican, and instituting his values through his company puts him at odds with much of the American public, basic American values like equality and fairness, and is quite likely unConstitutional. It's completely appropriate that NYC and NYU, both having appropriately American antidiscrimination policies, are calling out Chik-Fil-A and seem to be taking appropriate action. The United States is a incredibly diverse nation, and it's essential that the laws and ideals that ensure that everyone is equal under the eyes of the law are enforced.

    Posted by: Tarc | Jul 28, 2012 5:45:05 PM

  25. How is this letter in any way violating anyone's free speech? They're exercising their free speech by making it known that they don't support gay Americans and by donating to extremist causes, Quinn exercises her free speech by writing a letter that urges - not obligates - NYU to think about whether their mission is in conflict with providing a space for a business that denigrates the hopes and dreams of their LGBT students (and probably overtly discriminates in states where that is legal), NYU may exercise their free speech by agreeing with her suggestion or no, Chik Fil-A continues to enjoy the free speech to do and say what they want, but not to do so without consequence. And I'm exercising my free speech by writing this comment and not going to that vile restaurant. Censorship is a real thing--it used to happen against gay people here and still does in much of the world. And frankly, the orgs that Chik financially support want to bring antigay censorship back. We can't let that word become meaningless; that only allows the enemies of our community to claim victimhood. Chik Fil-A is not being censored and their free speech is not in danger. They are being criticized and they should be. Go Quinn!

    Posted by: George | Jul 28, 2012 5:49:50 PM

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