The tides are definitely turning in the world of retail and marketing, with brands like Oreo and JCPenney able to openly show support for themes like same-sex marriage and gay pride. (And sure, you can say that it’s all just marketing – that in the end it’s about being fashionable and appealing so that more people will support your product – but we can hardly find cause to complain about the fact that tolerance and acceptance is considered fashionable and appealing.)
Meanwhile, those caught on the other side of the fence are experiencing greater and greater backlash. Today Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced that, as a result of Chick-Fil-A President and COO Dan Cathy’s choice words on the same-sex marriage issue earlier this week, he will actively block any and all Chick-Fil-A restaurants from opening in his city.
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For those who’ve forgotten, a Baptist Press interview with Cathy was published on Monday in which he was asked point blank about his support for “traditional marriage.” Cathy’s response: “guilty as charged.” He followed it up with a radio interview on Tuesday in which he expanded on his belief that growing approval of same-sex relationships and marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation,” and that “ I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
So that happened, and not everyone is buying the brand’s Facebook apology. One of those is Mayor Menino. In an interview ith the Boston Herald, Menino passionately asserted that Chick-Fil-A has no place in the city under his watch:
“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” Menino told the Herald yesterday.
“That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail.”
He also further clarified that, should Chick-Fil-A find themselves looking for permits and licenses to open a restaurant in Boston, it will be very difficult for them from now on. And should this look like an empty threat, the Herald reminds readers that Menino has blocked a Wal-Mart from opening before so he means business.
Chick-Fil-A will likely stand by its assertion that the company as a whole does not believe in discrimination. But until it backs those words up with actions by no longer donating time and resources to “family values” organizations who oppose same-sex marriage, it’s equally likely that the chain can count on receding support from the community at large.