Not to worry, Mayor Vince. Chick-fil-A is not planning to open any more restaurants in the nation's capital. Stand down.
This business decision doesn't have much to do with your putting out the unwelcome mat for the purveyor of fast-food chicken. No one paid much attention to your comments last week when you called the restaurant chain "hate chicken," after the company's CEO, Dan Cathy, made remarks insensitive to gays. Cathy's unapologetic opposition to gay marriage and the reaction from gay advocates made news nationwide, but no one mentioned your stand. Can you say irrelevant?
Seems to me you were playing to your supporters in D.C.'s gay community. Perhaps you can begin firming up your mushy political base by bashing a company based in Atlanta that has less than a chicken foot dipped into the D.C. market. I doubt it. We know you supported same-sex marriage legislation!
Let me be clear about my position. I am agnostic on the restaurant. I have never set foot in a Chick-fil-A, though my wife has a weakness for their chicken nuggets and Polynesian sauce. And I consider Dan Cathy's comments about gay marriage offensive and abhorrent. That doesn't mean he can't own those beliefs. Personally, I believe people should have the freedom to marry whom they wish. Moreover, government has no business in the bedroom or at the marriage alter.
However, that does not mean that business owners can't express their beliefs, conservative or liberal. We do have the First Amendment. Why did Vince Gray feel the need to venture into the zone that separates church and state?
Dan Cathy and his marketing staff have the District of Columbia pegged pretty well. The company has one restaurant in the District, by the campus of Catholic University. It has chosen not to set up shop near the liberal bastions of upper Northwest, though I believe the agnostic consumers would fall prey to a good, cheap chicken dinner.
Why not surprise us, Vince? You could have taken a stand in opposition to the predictable comments by liberal mayors in Chicago, San Francisco and Boston, all of whom disparaged the fowl restaurant. Your constituents in Wards 7 and 8, across the Anacostia River, have precious few sit-down restaurants. I can think of a few places along Alabama Avenue, Good Hope Road and Branch Avenue where residents would be overjoyed to have the option of a decent chicken dinner.
You want to have a true impact on a business that devotes its profits to a cause you oppose, whether it's open marriage or clean air? Invite them in, become a customer, make them dependent on your patronizing their establishment. Convert them where it matters: at the cash register.
Calling them names only makes them stronger. And you, Mr. Mayor, weaker.
Harry Jaffe's column appears on Wednesday. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.