D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said Friday he would not support an expansion of Chick-fil-A in the District, referring to it as “hate chicken.”
Gray issued his statement on Twitter after mayors in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco also stated that the company was not welcome due to president Dan Cathy’s outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage.
“Given my long standing strong support for LGBT rights and marriage equality, I would not support #hatechicken,” Gray wrote.
Earlier Friday, Gray declined to take a stand on the company, saying he needed more time to review its position on gay rights. But administration officials noted Gray has been a strong supporter of gay rights.
In 2010, when he was council chairman, Gray helped legalize same-sex marriage. Last month, as mayor, Gray signed into law what he called one of the nation’s toughest anti bullying laws.
Gray waded into the Chick-fil-A debate even though the company does not have a big presence in the city and has no known plans for an expansion.
Though the company’s Web site lists nearly two dozen locations in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, the only location in the District is on the grounds of Catholic University.
Pedro Ribeiro, a Gray spokesman, said the mayor’s opposition to the company does not necessarily mean it could not open another store in the city.
“We will not support and don’t want them here, but if they are legally entitled to a permit, they are legally entitled to a permit,” Ribeiro said.
Greg Thompson, director of communications for Chick-fil-A, said the company is proud of its “biblically-based principles” and history but plans to step back from the debate over same-sex marriage.
“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,” Thompson said. “We will continue this tradition . . . Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”