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Chick-Fil-A Chicago Owner Invites Mayor To Restaurant, Alderman Faces Backlash But Stands Firm

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This Thursday, July 19, 2012 photo shows a Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
This Thursday, July 19, 2012 photo shows a Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

A Chicago alderman is taking heat this week after announcing his Mayor Rahm Emanuel-backed plans to block fast-food chain Chick-fil-A's expansion into the Logan Square neighborhood he represents.

Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno on Tuesday told the Chicago Tribune that, due to the chain's history of anti-gay marriage remarks and contributions to anti-gay groups, he does not support the College Park, Ga.-based chain's plan to open a new restaurant, the city's second, in the 2500 block of North Elston Avenue.

Mayor Emanuel stood behind Moreno's remarks, telling the Tribune that "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values."

Not long after Chicago became the latest U.S. city to take a stand against the controversial chain, the owners of the city's only current Chick-fil-A restaurant fired back with a statement aimed at separating the local chain from its owner's consistent opposition to marriage equality.

"We are not a corporation—we are real people and taxpayers as each Chick-fil-A franchise is independently owned and operated," Chick-fil-A Loyola Water Tower owner Lauren Silich said in the statement, the RedEye reports.

"We are Chicagoans who are dedicated to serving our community. We hold fundraisers for hospitals, school, fallen police and we donate to a wide variety of causes, including everything from churches to gay and lesbian organizations."

Silich proceeded to invite Mayor Emanuel to visit the Near North Side restaurant.

Others have criticized the Chicago officials' stand against the chain. The Illinois Family Institute, a group that describes themselves as "a ministry dedicated to upholding and re-affirming marriage, family, life and liberty," called Moreno's stand "an intolerant affront to many Illinoisans" that "demonstrate[s] a profound lack of respect for diversity."

Despite the pushback, Moreno has stood by his opposition to the chain.

"The intolerance of an organization and then my lack of acceptance of that intolerance is not hypocrisy," the alderman told the Tribune. "That's sophomoric thinking."

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's recent interview with the Baptist Press has put the chain's long-held opposition to marriage equality back in the spotlight. When asked to explain his franchise's "support of the traditional family," Cathy said he was "guilty as charged" and that his position "might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."

The remarks caused the Jim Henson Company, the company behind "The Muppets" and "Fraggle Rock," to sever its ties with Chick-fil-A. The controversy also prompted Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to vow to block the franchise from opening any restaurants in his city. Menino's letter to the chain's president, dated July 20, has gone viral since its release Wednesday.

The chain has already obtained zoning for the Logan Square restaurant, but it still needs City Council approval for the property to be subdivided. As the location is in Moreno's ward, his approval is needed to move forward with the project.

Moreno noted to the Associated Press that he is not worried about being sued over his decision to block the new location of the restaurant.

Former GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have been outspoken in their support for the controversial franchise. Huckabee encouraged people to patronize the fast food chain on Aug. 1, which he deemed "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day."

Earlier on HuffPost:

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