Chick-fil-A gay marriage battle goes political in L.A.
In light of the ongoing Chick-fil-A same-sex marriage controversy, a Los Angeles City Council candidate sent a letter Friday to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, urging him to "lead a delegation of local clergy and representatives of the LGBT community" to meet with company President Dan Cathy and convey to him the "destructive nature" of his company's stance.
"I think city officials must play a larger role. It’s a growing company with stores in 39 states. There is too much at stake here," said Mitch O'Farrell, who is seeking to represent the 13th District, which includes all or parts of Hollywood, Koreatown, Silver Lake, Echo Park and Glassell Park. "The longer this drags on, the more pain and anxiety it's going to cause people. I think it's time for leadership to step in."
Chick-fil-A has been the subject of media scrutiny and public debate since Cathy publicly expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage. Gay rights activists have targeted their protests at Chick-fil-A locations nationwide, and huge crowds turned out Wednesday for "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," when tens of thousands waited through long lines in a show of support for the executive.
Villaraigosa weighed in earlier this week on the Chick-fil-A debate, noting that Los Angeles has a "vibrant" LGBT community.
"I'm proud to support them as we call on Chick-fil-A's leadership to reconsider their position and join the growing majority of Americans who support marriage equality," Villaraigosa said. "In Los Angeles and in America, love and liberty will always triumph."
But O’Farrell, who is gay, said he is "optimistic" that talking to Cathy in person would help "de-escalate" the growing tensions.
He has learned "from his own life experiences" as an openly gay man that "you can win them over because you deal with them at the person-to-person level," he said. "Not just issuing statements that go back and forth past one another."
O’Farrell also said that blatant vandalism, such as the “Tastes Like Hate” graffiti that appeared on the wall of a Chick-fil-A in Torrance, "doesn’t help the argument."
And it’s not enough for big city mayors to say "Chick-fil-A is unwelcome in our city," O’Farrell said. "It’s not just about being mad at them and saying, 'Go away.' It’s about effecting change in a real way.... They can work towards building a stronger business model that is inclusive of everyone."
In addition to the CEO's public comments against gay marriage, crtics have claimed the company takes part in political and social activism against gays and lesbians.
-- Rosanna Xia
Photo: Workers paint over the "Tastes Like Hate" graffiti on the side of a Chick-fil-A in Torrance. Credit: Sandy Mazza / Daily Breeze