What Were Thomas Menino’s Real Motives For Attacking Chick-Fil-A?

Thomas Menino had no track record as a radical left-winger until last week. What changed?

It’s been over a week now since Boston Mayor Thomas Menino decided that anyone who holds religious or cultural beliefs contrary to the left-wing political establishment can’t serve chicken sandwiches or employ people in the city he serves. The question of Menino (and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel) and his “No supporters of traditional marriage need apply” rhetoric against Chick-Fil-A and the Cathy Family’s wild-eyed belief that marriage is between a man and a woman has been examined from a lot of angles. But one angle is missing and it’s this—what exactly was Tom Menino trying to prove anyway?

I suppose you could say that Menino really believes what he said, and those outside of Boston would see this is just another Massachusetts lefty shooting off at the lip. But whatever the mayor believes, he has no track record of getting swept into the various social causes that define the Extreme Left in this country. He certainly has no track record of the flagrant hate he unleashed in his letter to the Cathy Family. Menino’s reputation was that of a bread-and-butter mayor, who focused on improving the city, and because of it enjoyed broad-based popularity. The most he got criticized on was flubbing the name of a couple Boston Celtics’ stars during the NBA playoffs earlier this spring. In short, whatever his views on cultural issues, Menino’s reputation was a Democrat of the old school—one who cared more about the economic well-being of his middle-to-working class constituents, and less about the trendy causes of the left of which gay “marriage” is most definitely one. What purpose was served to throwing this reputation down the drain in a single letter?

The best guess is that Menino might be eyeing a run for statewide office. Governor Deval Patrick is popular and there’s no term limit, but Patrick, who served in the Clinton Administration might have an eye on the national stage. The passing of Ted Kennedy opened up one of the state’s Senate seats, and even if Menino opted not to contest this year’s race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown, the mayor might feel differently. The other senator, John Kerry, might not be vulnerable to defeat, but having come so close to the presidency eight years ago, he might be vulnerable to boredom in the Senate. All of the above is speculation on my part, but it underscores the point that there are three opportunities for statewide races that could feasibly be open for any prominent Democrat to take a run at.

Now that Menino has overseen completion of the Big Dig construction project is he bored?

Menino’s been mayor of Boston for a long time and might be suffering boredom of his own. He’s held this office since 1993 and has seen it all, from overseeing completion of the “Big Dig”, a huge construction project aimed at loosening up the city’s congested traffic, to overseeing the Red Sox finally winning the World Series in 2004 (well, I guess he doesn’t actually get credit for that). The Big Dig was finished at the end of 2007. What more is there to be achieved?

It’s also worth noting that the mayor has been challenged on his left flank, including in the last electoral go-around against Michael Flaherty (no relation to this writer). If Menino isn’t looking to upgrade his position, he might be protecting his current one. It’s not that I think the average Bostonian is going to rush out and vote against him if he doesn’t rip off angry letters on behalf of gay “marriage”, but if the voters get bored with him they might respond to a well-funded candidate who challenged him. And the left wing—particularly those that define their politics by their sexual orientation—is nothing if not lavishly bankrolled.

Mayor Menino might really believe what he spewed out in his letter to the Cathy Family. Or maybe he’s talked himself into believing it. But it’s out of character for him, and it’s reasonable to assume that politics, rather than principle are the motivating force.

Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of TheSportsNotebook.com.



  • Antonio A. Badilla


    Yes, freedom of choice, the same freedom of choice used to excuse the butchering of millions of unborn babies.
    As for the mayor of Boston and Chicago, who told them the were God and could speak for millions of people who gave them their job?
    Since you believe in “freedom of choice,” does the family who own Chick-fil-A have freedom of choice to give their opinion on such a controversial issue? Should we boycott all the Catholic hierarchy when they speak against gay marriage because it is, after all, in the minds of many, “hate speech?” Should I not buy any books from Amazon since it was just disclosed they have given millions of dollars to support gay marriage? Well, if I have “freedom of choice” I should be able to do so.

    • Mara

      Freedom of speech and freedom of choice must not be suppressed. You have a right to shop wherever you want. In that sense, I agree with you completely. Regarding abortion, a woman’s right to do with her own body what she chooses must not be suppressed. The way to end abortion is not by slavery.

  • Antonio A. Badilla

    David, you stated, “If people don’t want to eat at your restaurant after hearing your anti-gay viewpoints, that is there right.” Correct, and on this one we fully agree, but where I don’t agree is on governments or mayors telling an entire city they should not eat at Chick-Fil-A because they don’t like the view of the family who runs the place. I don’t care for gay marriage. Does that make me anti-gay? No, it makes me a person who believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, that’s all. People either agree or disagree with my position as long as they don’t demonized my position simply because they disagree with my views.

  • Mara

    I applaud the Mayor for speaking about what must be for him a very deep issue. I wish we had more people like him. To suggest that he was doing it for political reasons seems to me to show a complete lack of understanding of how deeply Americans embrace the concept of freedom of choice.

  • Francis Wippel

    Good thoughts on Menino here, but the bottom line is, Menino said what he said because he believes it, and he wants to be seen as a heroic leader by his constituents. Never mind that he didn’t bother to address the free speech rights of the Cathy family, or muddled logic required to believe that the government has the right to re-define an institution which it had zero role in defining in the first place. None of that matters to political liberals. This is what happens when you seek to reduce every aspect of human nature to a civil right. The sad part is, once you give the government this kind of control over how marriage is defined, it is only one small step before the government starts telling Americans who can and cannot marry. Next up we’ll see these liberals pushing for laws guaranteeing every that adult has a right to have children. Then too many mindless robots will follow along saying “Yeah, that’s a great idea, another great advancement for civil rights”, without realizing they are giving the government power it has no business attaining. Bottom line, though, the Democrat party of old is dead. What happened with abortion within this party is happening again with gay marriage, and any opponents of gay marriage will soon no longer be welcome in the Democrat party at the federal level.

    • David

      I think you are confused about what free speech is. You can say whatever you want, but you have to take responsibility for what you say. If people don’t want to eat at your restaurant after hearing your anti-gay viewpoints, that is there right. If cities want to try to prevent you from opening restaurants in their cities, then that is their right. Free speech isn’t always free.

      • Paul Sadek

        “If cities want to try to prevent you from opening restaurants in their cities, then that is their right.” Really, David? Remember, we’re talking about an opinion–whether personal or corporate–NOT employment practices. Using your logic, might I ask…if a city wants to try to prevent you from opening a business within its bounds because you DO support gay marriage, is that also “their right”? Why not?

        • David

          No, we aren’t talking about an “opinion.” We are talking about a company that gives millions to groups that want to “export homosexuals.” We are talking about a company that does not offer equal pay and benefits to gay employees. We are talking about a company that apparently fires working mothers and replaces them with men so that they don’t have to pay maternity leave. It’s certainly within the right of the citizens of states and cities to say that they want better businesses in their communities. I certainly would.

      • Francis Wippel

        No, but you certainly are. If Menino favored free speech, he’d have kept his mouth shut about this issue, and let the people of Boston decide with their wallets about whether or not they wanted to eat at Chick-Fil-A. It’s called the free market. Menino assumed to speak for all the citizens of Boston, instead of letting them speak for themselves. It’s called freedom. I don’t buy Ben and Jerry’s or Starbucks because of the personal views of their owners, but that doesn’t mean I want to prevent others from patronizing these companies. Menino needs to respect the consciences of all his citizens, not just those who agree with him.

        • David

          No, the City is the one that issues business licenses and it is their job to check out the practices of businesses and regulate them as the citizens directed them to do when they approved the City charter. It is the City’s responsibility to ensure that all employees of businesses are treated and compensated equally, as the citizens of these fine cities directed to their government to do when they approved their City charter. Further, the only thing that these fine mayors have done is to speak publicly. Your apparent desire is that the Cathy family should have a right to free speech, but that anyone that disagrees must shut their mouth. That’s not freedom, its a dictatorship.

          • Joe M

            David. I think you’re right that people can choose not to do business with a company that expresses opinions they don’t like. That’s fair. However, government treating a company differently (in terms of permits, etc.) over their expressed opinions is a violation of free speech rights. You have claimed that they have done more than express an opinion. But, I don’t believe you have successfully supported that claim. From what I’ve read, Chik-fil-A does not maintain any policy that is illegal. It’s not illegal to donate to a lobby group that is against gay marriage. Even if some members of that lobby group have made mean-spirited or unfair statements.

          • Francis Wippel

            David, the problem with your comments is that they are completely inaccurate. Chick-Fil-A does NOT practice discrimination against people. They don’t refuse to hire people or serve people based on sexual orientation. Any suggestion otherwise is false. It is not Menino’s job to judge the conscience of a business owner. If Menino has proof that Chick-Fil-A discriminates against homosexuals, then let him offer it. Otherwise, he has no basis for objection to them opening a branch in Boston. You suggest you disapprove of dictatorships, but in fact that is what you support. What you reveal about yourself is your own intolerance of anyone who disagrees with you. It is Menino who, as I said before, is assuming to speak for all of Boston when he says Chick-Fil-A is not welcome there. You can’t say you support Menino and oppose “dictatorships”. You might try getting your facts straight before posting again.

      • Antonio A. Badilla

        David, “If cities want to try to prevent you from opening restaurants in their cities, then that is their right.” News to me. Is that what democracy is? Who speaks for millions of people in a city? Do you honestly believe the mayors of Chicago and Boston speak for all the citizens living in those cities? If Chick-Fil-A were discriminating gays from coming into their restaurants on the basis of their sexual orientation, that would be bad news, like the Baptist church that refuses to marry a Black couple simply because they are Black, but to have an opinion on gay marriage, to say one does not agree with that life-style, does not give anyone any right to shut Chick-Fil-A down or to prevent them from having their businesses who hire thousands of people across this nation. Have you read the letter of Cardinal George and the letter of Cardinal Mahony, a man not known for conservative ideas?

  • Antonio A. Badilla

    Perhaps the mayors of Chicago and Boston should declare that the Catholic Church should be outlawed in those cities because after all, their position on gay marriage is contrary to the values of those two cities.
    I find it unbelievable that the mayor of Chicago proclaims that being anti-gay marriage is contrary to the values of Chicago yet he accepted the help of Louis Farrakan in “protecting” the city even though Farrakan is on record as saying he stands against gay marriage. The hypocrisy is overwhelming!

    • Magalene

      Well, Rahm is right in that natural law and God given morality are NOT ‘chicago values’. Nope. It is the vote early, vote often corruption crowd that personifies the ‘chicago values’.

  • Randall

    Short answer: because he’s a Democrat, and therefore espouses the complete destruction of the Christian moral fabric of America, the persecution of all Christians, and the eventual destruction of America itself. This plan is also known as “the gay agenda.” The More You Know ====*

    • David

      Chick-fil-A has donated to hate groups that have said the following: “One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the prophets’ of a new sexual order, and [i]f homosexuals are allowed to serve in the military, they will be recruiting in showers, having sex in the barracks”, that gays and lesbians should be subject to “public shaming”, and finally, my favorite “I would much rather prefer to export homosexuals than import them”. There is nothing Christian about these statements and I’m glad to see politicians holding this company accountable for the speech that they funded.

      • Joe M

        David. HBO broadcasts Bill Maher’s show. He has said many hateful things about religion. Do you think that politicians should get involved to damage HBO’s ability to do business?

      • jkrich59

        It would be far more loving, in the eternal (the only real) sense, to submit those who engage in activities (sexual or otherwise) that threaten their immortal souls than to participate in Gay Pride activities as if nothing were wrong. Those who have responsibility for the shepherding of souls will answer for their silence in the face of this fifty year onslaught of rampant sexual immorality of all persuasions.

      • Jedediah

        There is nothing Christian about you either. Politicians holding a company accountable for speech they funded??? Hey little fascist..our country doesn’t work that way, at least not yet. You think it’s ok for Chick-fil-A to be punsished for not toeing the government line. You are the hater and the fascist, you creep



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