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Chicken Jobs or Just Scratch: The Ongoing Fight over Gay Marriage in Chicago

In Articles on September 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm

If Chicago communities are looking for good treats, tasty treats, and new jobs by way of Chick-fil-A franchises, they may be disappointed should the social stance that Alderman Joe Moreno (pictured left) is taking has anything to do with it.

In a bad economy and with a city in crisis, a Chicago alderman chooses to make gay marriage advocacy a priority over potential job creation.


In the ongoing game of chicken that pits Chick-fil-A against gay marriage advocates, it seems as though the only people that may get run over in Chicago are those looking for the economic benefits of a new establishment coming to town.


Granted, no one will ever confuse working for a fast food restaurant with a middle-class job. As well, bringing a fast food chain to a region may not yield the same type of economic boom as, say, Caterpillar does to East Peoria and other Illinois towns. However, in a state where the unemployment rate is a full percentage point higher than the national average of 8.1% and the unemployment rate in Chicago is also above the national average, jobs are a blessing. That is doubly so for a town ravaged by a wave of violence initiated by youth facing educational issues and urban plight. Anything that can be used to calm down the tension stoked up over the past year or so in the Windy City must be considered, encouraged, and leveraged by community leadership, especially those at the very top of government.


Yet, instead of tackling these current challenges, for some, it is more important to vet potential economic creators over a controversial issue that is not even legal in the state of Illinois.


Perspectives from all sides of the issue concerning the gay marriage argument have merit. Those viewpoints have come in from public officials, community activists, and media types alike. Yet, just as much as social issues have been driving the national conversation in this cantankerous election cycle, there is one issue that has been more of a firestorm-maker than all others: jobs.


When bringing the conversation back to jobs again, the stance of Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno comes across as that much more overzealous and inappropriate.


Although the state of Illinois formerly recognizes civil unions for same-sex couples and Chick-fil-A has clarified that they will not discriminate against any employee based on race, creed, or sexual orientation, Alderman Moreno seems to remain willing to hold up approval for the expansion of Chick-fil-A franchises into Chicago based on the company’s continued traditional marriage stance. His political posturing – seen as standing for social justice for a select few on a very controversial issue – does not stand for the greater good in the larger sense in light of the city’s collection of woes.


In a situation where gay couples already have civic protections under state law and community conditions warrant holistic civic victories, Moreno’s stance comes off as both politically selfish and constituently narrow.  Although the alderman primarily represents one district full of voters, his votes serve as one voice among the 50 most powerful voices in the nation’s third-largest city. As such, his obligation remains beholden to the greater good to the city concerning economic development and educational opportunities – potential avenues for the struggling classes of Chicago to utilize should Chick-fil-A come to town.


Moreno is playing chicken with the fast food franchise, leaving Chicago residents in the middle of the economic highway that has already been zooming by without them for years now. Instead of fighting for a greater sense of justice (i.e., economic justice and educational justice for Chicago communities), Moreno chooses to fight what he perceives to be illegal and oppressive social stances with a questionably un-American stance of his own. That is the greater and oft-overlooked tragedy. Perhaps it is honorable for the alderman to stand for what he believes. No one has a problem with Americans voicing their beliefs, even when dissenting views are juxtaposed. Yet, the paradox in this instance is clear: Moreno’s position to block Chick-fil-A’s expansion on the grounds of championing gay marriage civil rights comes with the caveat of Moreno actively blocking Dan Cathy’s constitutional rights via the First Amendment – namely, the right to free speech and freedom of religion – through discriminating against Cathy and his businesses through political means.


Let us be clear: being pro-traditional marriage does not necessarily translate into hating gay Americans, nor should it. As long as Cathy’s organization does not discriminate as an employer and does not propagate hate against a group of Americans, the overall benefits to the community must outweigh the social controversy when the Chick-fil-A expansion issue sits on the desk of a Chicago alderman. It is the same “greater good” argument that the Democrat-controlled Chicago City Council embraces whenever companies with controversial ties to Planned Parenthood (such as Whole Foods) seek to expand their businesses into Chicago neighborhoods (as is the case with the supermarket in the Hyde Park area).


Catch the whole article, “Chicken Jobs or Social Stances in Chicago?” on Politic365.

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