Mountain View Voice

News - July 27, 2012

Gay marriage supporters file Chick-Fil-A appeal

by Daniel DeBolt

It appears that Chick-Fil-A's chickens have come home to roost.

The company's funding of anti-gay rights groups and president Dan Cathy's recent remarks that the company is "guilty as charged" in opposing gay marriage has caused a major backlash against its efforts expand into Mountain View.

Thanks to a fundraising web page citing the company's anti-gay stance, it took less than 14 hours last week to raise the $1,000 fee needed to have the City Council hear an appeal on the proposed Chick-Fil-A location at 1962 West El Camino Real. Zoning Administrator Peter Gilli had approved the restaurant and drive-through on July 10. The City Council could reverse or uphold that decision as soon as September 11.

Appellant David Speakman and his husband Richard were the first gay couple to marry in Santa Clara County in 2008. He says the company's "bigoted" stance prompted him to take action.

"It's not just a bigoted, evil company," Speakman said. "It's a company that wants a bad restaurant in a bad spot."

Speakman and a group of employees of the Mountain View startup HighlightCam came up with the idea of using wepay.com to raise the appeal money, a site he calls a cross between Paypal and Kickstarter. Money continues to be donated by people who want their names on the list of 40-plus donors, which includes state Senate candidate Sally Lieber and HighlightCam's CEO. The wepay.com page notes the company's funding of anti-gay rights groups, which it calls "hate." "In particular, they fund hate of the gay members of our town and their families."

Meanwhile intense controversy around Chick-Fil-A was sparked nationally by comments from Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy who suggested that gay marriage is "inviting God's judgment on our nation" and that the company is "guilty as charged" in opposing gay marriage.

The comments spurred the creator of the Muppets, Jim Henson Co., to pull out of an agreement to produce toys for the chain, while the mayors of Boston and Chicago said Chick-Fil-A would not be welcome in those cities. In response to the backlash, Chick-Fil-A released a statement saying "going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena."

Mountain View Mayor Mike Kasperzak said he couldn't really jump on the bandwagon.

"As you know the mayors of Boston and Chicago are a little different than the mayor of Mountain View," said Kasperzak. "They actually run the city. Mountain View's mayor couldn't say 'we're not going to allow them in town.'"

Because it is a quasi-judicial hearing, "it's not appropriate for any of us to say one thing or another. It's sort of like going into a trial with the jury already having said, 'Oh, they're guilty.'"

But Kasperzak adds that "this is clearly an issue that is going to quite active for the rest of the summer."

Speakman has become quite familiar with the national outcry over Chick-Fil-A. "I've been getting a lot of emails from across the country, particularly the Bay Area, from people asking if I had any pointers for them," Speakman said. "There are people in San Jose that didn't realize Chick-Fil-A was moving in until it was too late."

Speakman said he and his group know they can't win the appeal based on Chick-Fil-A's politics. He's been working on a list of other reasons, including the fact a restaurant with the goal of bringing in as many cars as possible doesn't fit in with the city's efforts to make El Camino Real more pedestrian friendly or the council's interest in studying a ban on new El Camino Real drive-throughs.

Speakman said he recently learned about Chick-Fil-A's use of Styrofoam cups, a practice that, according to Chick-Fil-A's website, is environmentally friendly because the company says it recycles the cups.

Speakman called that "kind of ridiculous."

"Every other restaurant is moving away from Styrofoam because it's so bad," Speakman said. "And the (Stryrofoam) trash accumulates in the Bay."

There's definitely an issue with trash, said resident Bruce England.

"There's a lot more throw-away material when you go through a drive-through, a lot more refuse impact," England said, adding that the drive-through goes against the zero-waste aspirations city officials hold for Mountain View.

England is working with another group that has a much different approach to opposing Chick-Fil-A, "a solid group of people who have experience in appeals like this." The gay marriage issue won't be part of their effort.

"We think we are more likely to be successful with more focused approach," he said.

England was hesitant to even comment about how much Chick-Fil-A's anti-gay marriage stance motivated him.

"Because of our backgrounds, we know the kinds of things that work or don't work," he said. "We wouldn't even have started on that premise. There are just restrictions on what a city can and can't do."

The group had planned to make a second appeal, with England offering to pay the fee himself, until zoning Administrator Gilli said on Wednesday the city would not accept it because an appeal had already been filed.

England said the group would focus on the conditional use permit issued for the drive-through, which he says is too close to nearby apartment buildings. Despite Chick-Fil-A's claim that extensive outreach was made to the adjacent complex, England said he asked around and found that many had not heard of the proposal.

During the city's general plan visioning process, England said "the city came out loud and clear in support of walk-ability and bike-ability in the city. "More drive-throughs is inconsistent with that vision. Also the Grand Boulevard Initiative supports better pedestrian and biking access, which means de-emphasizing car travel."

Speakman said last week that he has similar concerns.

"We cannot win on any claim based upon this evil company's hateful actions against minorities," he writes. "But we can fight the land use change and the increased danger to our population from cars driving up and over the sidewalks to get to fast food — a danger that is not worth the risk to our otherwise bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly city."

"It doesn't matter who owns the restaurant," Speakman said. Considering positions the council has taken previously, "it doesn't sound like something the City Council would approve."

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by Cuesta Resident, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 26, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Talk about hypocritical! They are subjecting a business to different rules and selective enforcement levels because they don't like the company politics. How is this different than racial profiling, when police stop some selected group of people but not others?

If they really think more restaurants and drive-thru on El Camino is bad, make this apply to ALL businesses, and to existing ones as well (with some 2-3 year transition period for the business).

Please treat everyone equally. When we don't treat people and businesses equally, it undermines the rationale for equal treatment and marriage rights for gays.





Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of another community
on Jul 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Don't get all upset with Chick-fil-A, they aren't the only ones against homosexuals, gays, lesbians, transgender funding. What about:
-Autozone
-Cracker Barrel
-Cinemark
-Domino's Pizza
-ExxonMobil
-Salvation Army
-Dish Network
-Gold's Gym

Wake up America! Read your Bible...and you'll find real joy.


Posted by Margaret, a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm

There was a time when a company might have used some of its profits to fund efforts to maintain racial segregation or to keep black people or women from being able to vote, for instance. If a group of people fought to keep that company from coming to town, they would have been ridiculed at the time, and it would have been a risk for them to take. But in hindsight, we would all now agree that they did the right thing, and that their small effort helped to promote equality in general. In light of that, maybe our need for chicken isn't so important after all. Whatever happened to that Pollo Loco place anyway?


Posted by LovingMtnView, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm

LovingMtnView is a registered user.

The city recently denied an application to open a gym on Castro st. So, if the city can deny a business opening up that promotes peoples health, why cannot they also deny an application from a company that is actively promoting discrimination against homosexuals?

Sorry Christians and other haters, it is the 21st century and intolerance will no longer be tolerated! :)


Posted by Flava Dave, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Flava Dave is a registered user.

"Sorry Christians and other haters, it is the 21st century and intolerance will no longer be tolerated! :)"

Except for the falafel shop on Castro St where the owners require their wives to be covered up.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Phil is a registered user.

What I like about 'open-minded' people like David Speakman is their total intolerance to any view that doesn't match their own thinking. We should probably stop the President from using Moffett Field since up to about two months ago he held the same belief. Maybe we should ban the Catholic Church and most other religions because of their views.

Borrowed this from the Armstrong and Getty radio program. Enjoy

Subject: Opening a business in Mountain View
Message:
Hello: I'm very interested in opening a business in your beautiful city and have a couple of questions and requests.
If it's not too much trouble, could you please send me the official list of political and social opinions that I must hold in order to open a business in Mountain View.
It's recently become clear that merely expressing an "incorrect" opinion could lead to me being barred from doing business there...or at least having to fight David Speakman's lawsuit and disapproval every step of the way. It's hard enough to start a business and create jobs without that kind of resistance!
I'm sure you understand. I would just try to guess which opinions the government requires that I hold, but in a recent case, you folks made clear that an opinion held by half of Americans was completely unacceptable. Guessing which other opinions the government doesn't permit would be tough! In the case I alluded to (involving the folks from Chick-fil-A) the "illegal" opinion was the same one held by the President of the United States until very recently.
Perhaps you could put out a "government-approved beliefs" newsletter on a regular basis so no one engaged in unacceptable speech or thought. Those who repeatedly expressed views contrary to the government could be given special training and re-education so that they wouldn't make silly mistakes anymore!
Again, thanks for your assistance. I look forward to being in compliance with all acceptable beliefs so that I will be permitted to earn a living.
Regards,
Joe Getty


Read more: Web Link


Posted by MVScooter, a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 4, 2012 at 11:09 am

MVScooter is a registered user.

Hi Phil, hope you don't mind but I cut-n-pasted your reply verbatim in the "other" Chick-Fil-A story comment area. Seems to be the same but with a slightly earlier publishing date.

Web Link

Odd.

I also find it surprising how many people who claim to be against intolerance are so fast to label any differing opinion as "hate speech". As I stated in the other thread the intent is to shut down debate. It's a deplorable tactic I wish many in the LGBT community would abandon it. Minus that I don't believe we'll never be able to have a rational discussion about the issue.

The author of this particular article starting off with "It appears that Chick-Fil-A's chickens have come home to roost" is surely not helping. Was anyone really expecting an objective piece to follow that opening? Nope.. it's full on advocacy littered with uncontested emotionalism. I expect very little from the journalist profession of late and they continually fail to meet my already low expectations. The story much like the responses to it, shows opposing views are simply not welcome. Not a single opposing opinion represented in the entire bit. That's quite a feat keeping in mind Proposition 8 passed in CA with a majority vote. You'd think scaring up an opposing view would not be terribly hard.


Posted by Grace, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Grace is a registered user.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that there are many forms of "speech" that are legally protected and constitutional under the First Amendment: everything from sincerely held religious beliefs to burning a flag. The founding family of CFA has sincerely held religious beliefs (believing in a Biblical form of marriage, having their restaurants closed on Sundays to observe a "day of rest", donating millions of dollars to care for foster children & orphans (also Biblically mandated), not having debt to run their business (another Biblical belief) are all protected by law. CFA obeys federal and state anti-discrimination laws, hires gays, and their founders haven't used "hate" speech (even if you disagree with them. Somebody who burns a flag is just a legally entitled to open a business as anybody else who practices a form of protected speech. Mountain View even has a porn store a few blocks away on El Camino, and their speech is protected and they're allowed to be in business. First Amendment lawyers have already promised to litigate Mountain View if they put a stop to CFA over a protected speech issue.


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