Mayor Kasim Reed, who will talk to anyone with ears about the upcoming transportation sales tax vote, has nothing to say about the national controversy swirling around Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A and its diss of gay marriage.
Then again, Reed isn’t a fan of the gays getting married, either.
But the lone openly gay member of the Atlanta City Council, Alex “No Smoking” Wan, did step into the Chick-fil-A debate. Like Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, Wan opposes the opening of new Chick-fl-As in his city. The reason? The chain’s backing of anti-gay groups and Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s recent statement against gay marriage.
Wan elaborated in an interview with the GA Voice:
“Of course, as a proud member of the LGBT community, I am incredibly disappointed in Dan Cathy’s [president of Chick-fil-A] position opposing marriage equality. And regardless of the fact that Chick-fil-A is based in Atlanta, that position is, to me, completely incompatible with the values of the City of Atlanta, ‘the city too busy to hate,’ and the key role we played in the civil rights movement,” Wan said.
“As the city council’s only openly gay member, I support boycotting patronizing the chain and would oppose their efforts to expand further within the city limits,” Wan added.
Though Wan has little actual recourse to prohibit the opening of businesses in the city – Menino admitted as much in a follow up to his statements in Boston – it’s still a strong statement against the Atlanta-based chicken chain. And it helps put pressure on Reed and other elected officials, including U.S. Rep. David Scott whose district includes Chick-fil-A’s headquarters, that refuse to address the controversy.
Reed’s gay spokesperson, Reese McCrainie, offered this on Friday, two days after Project Q asked if the mayor had any comment on the Chick-fil-A flap: “The mayor has no comment at this time.”
Admittedly, it’s another tough spot for Reed. He’s still wrestling with his own position on same-sex marriage, which irks his LGBT supporters, and yet publicly rebuking Chick-fil-A won’t win him any favors with Atlanta’s business community, which helps fund his initiatives and backs the transportation tax he wants voters across the region to support on Tuesday. And if he follows in the footsteps of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who says he won’t back a litmus test for the personal beliefs of business owners, that will further inflame LGBT activists Reed needs to back his re-election campaign next year.
Even as other big city mayors, including Menino in Boston and Rohm Emanuel in Chicago, criticize Chick-fil-A and oppose the chain’s expansion in their cities, Reed isn’t swayed. But it’s not the first time Reed has fallen behind more progressive mayors on gay issues.