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Anti-gay stance may bite Santa Rosa Chick-fil-A

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 | Posted by

By KEVIN McCALLUM / The Press Democrat

If Chick-fil-A thought it had a tough time getting approval for a fast-food restaurant in Santa Rosa, wait until it tries operating one here.

Neighborhood groups and members of the gay community vowed protests and boycotts of the future Mendocino Avenue restaurant in the wake of President Dan Cathy’s quip that the company was “guilty as charged” in being against gay marriage and supportive of “the biblical definition of the family unit.”

The remarks have turned into a publicity nightmare for the company, with a nationwide boycott under way and even Muppets creator the Jim Henson Co. canceling a partnership to create a kids meal for the chain.

The controversy is likely to follow the company through the opening of its 4,400-square-foot restaurant across from the Santa Rosa Junior College.

“You can expect demonstrations at a Chick-fil-A here in Santa Rosa. We’re a very organized community,” said Gary Carnivele, owner and editor of the website gaysonoma.com. “I can guarantee a protest. I can guarantee a boycott.”

Jenny Bard, board member and past president of the Santa Rosa Junior College Neighborhood Association, said the neighborhood where Chick-fil-A is planning to locate is a very tolerant and diverse one. Most residents were initially against the restaurant because of the impact of the drive-thru and because it was a fast-food chain, she said.

“There were reasons they weren’t going to be eating there before, but this adds a whole ‘nother big reason,” Bard said.

The Santa Rosa City Council voted 5-2 in May to uphold the Atlanta-based company’s appeal of a decision by the Planning Commission to deny a permit for the fast-food restaurant to locate on the site of a vacant Burger King.

Debate at the Planning Commission focused on whether the greenhouse gas emissions from cars waiting in line at the drive-thru should be a factor in the decision. City staff said the emission levels were insignificant, but enough commissioners had concerns about the emissions and neighborhood issues to block the project. The company appealed to the council.

In its May decision, the council majority cited several factors for upholding the Chick-fil-A appeal. These included the 60 jobs it would create, the lack of a policy against drive-thrus, the company’s professionalism and flexibility, and the cleanup of a long-vacant building considered an eyesore.

Vice Mayor John Sawyer, who is gay, said he was disappointed with the company’s stance, but it wouldn’t have changed his vote in favor of the project.

“I believe that when the Chick-fil-A is in place, they will receive a cooler reception than they might have otherwise enjoyed,” Sawyer said.

Mayor Ernesto Olivares also stressed that the city did the right thing to grant the restaurant a permit, and shouldn’t be looking to go back on that decision now.

“I don’t believe that we can legally use someone’s political position in a land-use decision,” Olivares said.

The head of at least one city takes a different view. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, in an interview with the Boston Herald, promised to make it tough for the company to open a restaurant in his city. “You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population,” Menino said.

The company insists it does not discriminate against anyone, customers or employees. Last week, it said in a statement that it would “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” and refrain from “proactively being engaged in the dialogue” on the subject.

Councilwoman Susan Gorin, who along with Marsha Vas Dupre voted against the restaurant, said she never liked the way the company refused to modify its proposal to eliminate the drive-thru after hearing the concerns of neighbors.

“This just reinforces my belief that this is not the right company for Santa Rosa,” Gorin said.


  • Makai

    Hypocrites, nothing but hypocrites is all you are who oppose Chick-fil-A’s stance and belief on marriage. It’s their right to believe in what they want, as it is yours to have same sex partners. So what’s really the issue here?

    It’s not about hate, it’s never been stated that they hate gays, so stop with the whining and get on with your lives, and let them live theirs as they too choose.

    I’m so fed up with the GLBT community whining whenever someone opposes or disagrees with their lifestyle. You’re perpetuating and demonstrating the very hate that you have been fighting against for decades, and yet you strike out at heterosexuals simply because they don’t agree with you?

    I’m a heterosexual Male, and I support your decision to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. I choose to be with Women, does that make me a lesbian? No it doesn’t. But I still choose to be with the opposite sex, so do you hate me too?

    I will patronize Chick-fil-A, and I will move you out of the way if you try and prevent me from doing so. It’s my right to eat there, as it is yours not too.

    • Jon

      Except it IS about hate. They donate THOUSANDS of dollars to anti-gay groups to support anti-gay and discriminatory groups and laws. Every dollar spent there essentially goes on to fund the company’s beliefs. This has nothing to do with heterosexuals. A majority of heterosexuals are supporting the movement (We’re not all gay, after all)! If you don’t want a company spending money to turn you into a second-class citizen, boycotting is the right thing to do.

      • Makai

        @Jon; if what you say is true, as I find NOTHING anywhere supporting your accusations, then give me the link(s) to your vitriolic dribble. Only then will I ‘maybe’ change my opinion. Until then, I will still support their stand on the traditional Family values. Besides, they are intitled to voice theirs, as are you.

      • Michael

        Your response is simply not true.

    • Robert

      It’s certainly the “right” of the Chik-fil-A owners to have their beliefs and opinions, but they crossed the line wit the $5 Million they have donated to anti-Gay rights orginizations. Also, it is the public’s right to not patronize businesses that are attacking them and taking away their rights. No one is stopping the Chik-fil-A owners from their religous beliefs, but the owners are blocking citizens rights.

  • bill

    It is totally irresponsible for the CEO of this company to make such a public statement. to target any group shows lack of judgement. His company will suffer the consequences of his inappropriate remarks.

    • Makai

      @bill, with your threats of suffering the consequences, what exactly do you mean? Are you so blind and judge-MENTAL that you don’t see all the free publicity you are giving them?

      But I digress, because your hate and condescending comments are what spurns more even hate, and at times violence amongst the innocent.

    • irishsmile

      I see absolutely no difference between Chick Fil A supporting traditional marriage and J.C. Pennys deciding that Ellen DeGeneris shall be the female role model for families in their advertising…. and Home Depot sends it’s employees out in their uniforms to ‘Gay’ parades. Both these companies donate heavily to the Gay agenda. What’s auce for the gopose is sauce for the gander. Personally, I wish companies would stick to selling like the old days.

    • Michael

      No it won’t. The chicken speaks for itself.

  • Makai

    One last word: I’ve come to the conclusion that being gay means you’ve become less tolerant of other peoples lifestyles. Straight people are not entitled to their opinions without, and in the gay communities, disagreeing with you. But yet you condemn everybody and everything, even go so far as to condone hatred against the straight communities with no merit.

    Bottom line: gays have become the most bigoted and hateful group of individuals, and now are destroying their own fight for recognition because of it. So there’s nobody to blame but yourselves for this loss. But as we have seen, you’ll find someone else to blame it on.

    • http://www.marvinchoi.com Marvin Choi

      Lol, are you listening to yourself?

      Go ahead, you’re entitled to your opinion, but as long as it doesn’t impede on the freedoms of others.

      And you’re being awfully presumptuous about pretending to understand the plight of a marginalized group of human beings and how they should be responding to institutionalized hatred against them.

  • Joshua

    To say you do not believe in gay marriage is a political opinion, not an attack on a group of people. Just as any person is free to support political change to allow gay marriage, another person, CEO or otherwise, is free to support the opposite. That’s called free speech and it’s at the heart of democracy.

  • Missy

    I’m so sick of the leftwing DICTATING everything. Let Chick-Fil-A come. If it doesn’t work as a business model fine, let the PEOPLE decide. You want to eat there? Fine. You don’t? Fine. Stop nanny-stating everything! Let businesses RUN.

  • Makai

    On a side note, look at all the whining the GLBT community is doing because Sally Ride decided to keep her private life, PRIVATE!

    Yes, she had a same sex partner for 27 years, and decided NOT to exploit her gender preference. And now the GLBT community is condemning her, after her death, stating that she was in many was selfish for not using her gender preference to further the GLBT cause.

    Again I say, the GLBT community is the most discriminatory people to date! Always whining, and blaming others because they disagree with the choices.

  • don

    Add me to list of folks who are damn tired of the whining and lack of tolerance from the GLBT folks. The man stated, which is his right as an American citizen, that HE supported family values. What’s the big deal? I also support family values.

    The GLBT folks are the most intolerant fringe group in this country.

    Your goal and the goal of the far left in this country seems to be the destruction of family values as well the family unit, and the traditions that made this country great. You wonder why people are getting fed up with you as individuals and your constant whining? The destruction of the family unit is the goal of the Marxist in this country, why carry their flag?

    If you’re in a sexual minority group that’s fine with me. Just go about your business like most other civil Americans and obey the laws of this country. If you boycott that’s fine too. Just stay the hell out of my way when I want to patronize a business establishment of my choosing.

  • don

    ““You can expect demonstrations at a Chick-fil-A here in Santa Rosa. We’re a very organized community,” said Gary Carnivele, owner and editor of the website gaysonoma.com. “I can guarantee a protest. I can guarantee a boycott.””

    I can guarantee that we who believe in free speech will support Chickfil a and show up for their opening.

  • http://www.RBPconcerts.com Rick Bartalini

    I for one will not be eating there. It’s delicious but I prefer my chicken without a side of hate!

    • Makai

      @RIck Bartalini; again I ask, WHERE’S THIS “SIDE OF HATE” YOU SPEAK OF? Or are you just another of the intolerant and hypocritical left wingers who whine about everything and everybody who doesn’t agree with you?

      Where there’s proof of hate, there’s facts, until which time you provide FACTS, you have no foundation for your ‘hatful’ and misguided comments.

    • Len

      They never said the nated gays! They have a right to their beliefs and family values. Sounds like the hate is coming from the Left Liberal and Gay Community! I for one will be supporting Chick-Fil-A and will be there on their opening day! Thank goodness for Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion!!!!

  • Tim

    Their food is GMO crap anyway, why would anyone eat that crap?

  • wangofango

    Shucks, I think it be really great that Sonoma County has Freedom of Choice when it comes to where I go for fine dining. I mean, I get tired of eating at Hooters all the time, so some quality protein at Chick Fil-A or Chick Fil-B will be mighty welcome.

  • Makai

    And look what happened today from all who support Chick-fil-A’s right to their opinion.

    √ Chick-fil-A = WINNERS!

    – GLBT community haters = losers!

    I support Chick-fil-A and will be there at their Grand Opening in Santa Rosa!

  • Len

    Okay so after Chick-Fil-a made the comment on marriage is between a man and a women, their Christian beliefs. Now the City of Santa Rosa states there is a problem with their permit and the drive thru! No pun intended but that is just \”Chicken S#!$!\” So much for Freedom of Speech. Boycott SR!!!

  • Vic

    Marriage confers legal rights: social security and pension survivor rights; hospital visitation rights; tax benefits; and more. Denying gay marriage equality equates to denying equal rights to the LGBT community. Free speech is not the issue -the issue is equality. If you support denying someone rights then you will suffer the consequences, in this case, unwanted publicity and for sure an impact on Chick fil-A’s bottom line. African Americans stopped using the public bus systems and white owned businesses in the South to demonstrate their power and demand change, so the LGBT community will continue to do the same to Company’s who support inequality. You can’t say you support your gay friends, colleagues, relatives and neighbors and then support a business that clearly works to deny them equal rights.

  • Owen

    So this isn’t really just about the CEO making legal remarks about a personal view. It’s about a compnay that has given a boatload of money to groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center has called hate groups. It’s about donations to lobby HR 1064 (The US Government asking to not support the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda.) to take out support of basic human rights. It’s about trying to say that it’s ok for a company to give money to groups that want to torture me, in the hopes of my becoming non-gay. It’s about more than just marriage folks.

    And yes, I do support the right to free speech. I actually think that if you want to hate them gays, that’s fine, I don’t personally like deep fried food of any sort.

    But if you want to support a company that in no uncertain terms would like to see me as a gay man with the legal rights of the chicken that they serve, actually here in California Chickens in many ways have more legal protections then I do; go ahead and eat all the deep fried hate you want. Heck have an extra serving, may the cholesterol will get you out of the community faster ya bigoted jerk.

  • Pat

    Regardless of your stance on this core civil-rights issue, why would anyone in Santa Rosa embrace this sodium, fat, and cholesterol-laden caloric monstrosity? There’s already tons of great alternatives around SRJC. Have some self-respect, people!

  • Janet

    I am from East Texas and I have to say, I have not seen such hate when it comes too people being able to have their own thoughts and opinions. What ever happened to “live and let live?” I do not believe in gay marriages. I am entitled to my opinion. I am entitled to give to whatever cause I choose too. STOP the madness. GET a life.

    • Nicole

      So you would vote to legalize marriage for all, even if it goes against your opinions because you believe everyone should live and let live? Or are you a hypocrite?

  • Helen

    My protest is telling all the homeless people I come across to line up at the doors for the opening because nothing would make me happier than that chicken of hate restaurant having to feed 100 homeless people for free for a year. I’ll even give them the money to buy the first chicken sandwich just to make sure they have a constant stream of “undesirables” coming in and out. I think it’s a proper penance.

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Ann Hutchinson is our Santa Rosa correspondent.
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