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Alderman Moreno, Chick-fil-A and the civil rights agenda find a way to move forward

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CHICAGO (CBS46) -

This fight was never about "freedom of speech" or "freedom of beliefs." Despite common characterization, this fight was about ensuring the right of LGBT citizens everywhere to fair employment. This fight was about providing LGBT citizens with a workplace that doesn't discriminate against them based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This fight was about upholding and protecting basic civil liberties. This fight was about justice.

Prior to today, Chick-fil-A had a poor record when it came to acknowledging equal rights for all of our citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation. Prior to today, Chick-fil-A funneled money to groups associated with anti-LGBT agendas. Prior to today, Chick-fil-A felt it was "not necessary" to formally address their policies towards the LGBT community. But today, we have a new path: For the first time, Chick-fil-A has changed their practices and promised the workplace protections that all of our citizens deserve. Instead of being a company that openly promotes discrimination, Chick-fil-A has vowed to move forward.

This is a win for the LGBT community. This is a win for everyone who works for the cause of equal rights, and a win for Chick- fil-A. This is a win for all.

Last week, I met with Chick-fil-A executives for the second time this month. These meetings cap 10 months of negotiations with the company over concerns about fair and equal hiring and serving practices within the company. Before now, Chick-fil-A had no formal message as it related to the fair treatment of all citizens in our great democracy. Now, for the first time in the company's history, Chick-fil-A provided an official company document, which clarifies their new policies to ensure equality at Chick-fil-A facilities.

Due to the LGBT community's dissatisfaction with the company's lack of fair and equal policies towards people of all sexual orientations, the company today has put into writing, for the first time, that its employees are to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect -- regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender…our intent is not to engage in political or social debates." This statement was placed into an official company document called "Chick-fil-A: Who We Are."

For the first time, Chick-fil-A has provided a way to ensure that their employees know that discrimination will not be tolerated. It sends an important message and is a very positive step for Chick-fil-A as it looks to expand into urban markets. It is also a positive step forward for the LGBT community. From now on, if discriminatory practices were to occur within the company, the corporate policy could be used as a basis for legal action. This action would also set a precedent for other companies who choose to make bigotry a part of their corporate culture.

The second, and equally as important, concession pertains to Chick-fil-A's donations to anti-gay groups. In my last meeting with company executives, I corroborated what they told me back in January: that donations to anti-gay groups, which most concerned the LGBT community, have ceased. In a letter signed by Chick-fil-A's Senior Director of Real Estate, it states, "The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas."

My sole interest in this fight was to make substantive progress on the vital civil rights issue of our day. With this action, I believe that real progress has been made to address the very legitimate concerns of the LGBT community regarding Chick-fil-A. Moreover, the company has agreed to a compromised traffic pattern. Therefore, I will be providing Chick-fil-A the letter of support they have been requesting to allow for a subdivision of the property located at 2538-70 N. Elston Avenue. I also will be introducing a City Council ordinance that will formalize the subdivision.

Before today, many believed this matter was simply about Chick-fil-A itself, but this action shows that today will be remembered as being about more. Today will not be remembered as being about values, beliefs or passing media controversies. Today will be remembered as a day we all stood together to build a better future for all. Today will be remembered as a celebration of tomorrow.

- Alderman Moreno