Waffle Fries With A Side Of Hate: Chick-Fil-A Eyes West Michigan

By Crystal A. Proxmire

GRAND RAPIDS - The notoriously hateful Chick-fil-A chain of fast food restaurants is looking to move into West Michigan as early as 2015 according to published reports by the Grand Rapids Press. The move has some people salivating at the thought of southern fatty fast foods, but others are foaming at the mouth.

"I know they have some damn good waffle fries, but nobody wants waffle fries with a side of hate," said Brad Gorman who organized a petition on http://www.change.org called "Chick-fil-A No Way, Stay the Cluck Away from West Michigan."

The petition explains Gorman's position:

"Residents of West Michigan value diversity and care about the inclusion of our gay and lesbian residents. We welcome businesses to our communities that have a good reputation and solid values.

"But anti-gay businesses like Chick-fil-A have NO PLACE in West Michigan - no matter how delicious their waffle fries may be. Chick-fil-A has donated millions of dollars to organizations that undermine equality for gays and lesbians right here in our community. This type of discrimination has no place in our towns.

"The cities of Boston and Chicago, as well as college towns across the U.S. have asked Chick-fil-A to STAY AWAY and West Michigan needs to do the same.

"Tell the economic development organizations and elected officials: If you value diversity West Michigan, stand up for equality and sign this petition to say NO WAY to Chick-fil-A." The petition also includes a sample note to the Chamber of Commerce and to Grand Rapids Mayor George Hartwell. Hartwell was on vacation and unavailable for comment at time of printing.

City Attorney Catherine Mish responded to inquiries, stating, "To the best of my knowledge, the City has not been contacted by Chik-Fil-A regarding the possibility that the company might wish to open a location within the City of Grand Rapids. Although we have read about this possibility in the media, we have no official indication from Chik-Fil-A that this is actually in the company's plans. Likewise, the city has not received any official complaints regarding the possibility of Chik-Fil-A opening a location within the City.

"The City of Grand Rapids is a business-friendly community and welcomes new businesses that strengthen the local tax base, through the payment of real and personal property taxes and through providing jobs to local residents who in turn pay local income taxes. That being said, the City of Grand Rapids is also strongly committed to the values of equal treatment under the law for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. The city will of course ensure that local ordinance provisions are enforced."

Chick-fil-A made headlines last year after the company President Dan Cathy spoke against gay marriage based on "Biblical principles," sparking a boycott of the chain. In April a senior manager for the company, Mark Conklin, spoke at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, telling students "Biblical principles just make great business principles," according to MLive. The chain is known for closing on Sundays so that employees can attend church.

Gorman, 32, started the petition, "because people in West Michigan value diversity and care about the inclusion of our gay and lesbian residents," he said. He complains of the positive news coverage the move is generating. "Grand Rapids news outlets have missed the mark on this. They are celebrating a new business that works to fund discrimination against residents of our communities. This shows that our region - and our media outlets - have a long way to go."

Gorman has been active in the fight for LGBT equality by creating G2H2 gay socials in West Michigan, supporting the OutCenter in Benton Harbor, serving as Whirlpool PRIDE Lead, and helping with the first PRIDE float in the Blossomtime Parade.

At press time, the petition had 286 signatures. Find the petition online at http://www.change.org/petitions/chick-fil-a-no-way-stay-the-cluck-away-from-west-michigan#.

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