I've been surprised by the lack of nuance among my fellow gay marriage supporters. Many fellow supporters of gay rights have been applauding a notorious letter Boston Mayor Tom Menino send to Dan Cathy, president of the Chick-Fil-A fried chicken franchise, who recently revealed that he opposes gay marriage.
In his letter Menino wrote he had heard Cathy was looking to expand into Boston and added "There is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it." He told the Boston Herald “If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies.”
What Menino was threatening to do is illegal. Public officials do not have the ability to cast out businesses or residents merely because of political views they hold. This is hostility to the rule of law and while I can understand applauding the mayor for standing up for gay rights, I am sickened to see support for his thuggish boasts. This is the left-wing equivalent of the 2010 "Ground Zero Mosque" debacle.
Menino has since taken back his threats, but he wouldn't have had to if he'd written a more thoughtful letter. This is what that letter should have said.
To Dan Cathy,
I recently became aware that you are a vocal critic of gay marriage, but also have an interest in opening a location in our fair city of Boston.
As you are probably aware, Boston is the capital of the first state to legalize gay marriage. I speak for the majority of our residents when I say we are proud of our support for equal marriages rights. I was so moved by the issue that I personally stood at City Hall Plaza to greet loving couples as they came here to be married on that historic day.
Despite our differences in opinion, I want to assure you that as a public official I will do everything my office requires to clear the way to our open, tolerant city should you decide to come here. If you file the correct paperwork and meet all of our rules and regulations, I will not allow any arbitrary roadblocks to stand in your way. If you open a Boston location, our police officers will protect your business just like any other one. You will be treated with the dignity and respect all members of our community deserve by the city government.
However, as a private citizen I will oppose you in thought, word and action. I will not patronize your restaurant on any occasion, and I will urge any neighbor looking for a quick fried chicken meal to choose Kentucky Fried Chicken instead. If there are demonstrations outside the store, I may pick up a sign denouncing you and what you stand for. If anyone asks for my personal opinion, I will proudly say I hope no one buys a single nugget from you. That is my right as an American.
Rest assured, if you choose to come to Boston you will be greeted with tolerance. However, if it's acceptance you seek, you won't find it within city limits.