BOSTON, July 27, 2012 ( – Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has backpedaled on remarks that he would keep Chick-fil-A off city grounds because the head of the fast food chicken restaurant supports traditional marriage – but maintaining that he hopes the chain will stay out of Boston.

Menino told the Boston Herald Thursday that he can’t actually stop the restaurant from opening there, despite his staunch opposition to its pro-family position.

“I can’t do that. That would be interference to his rights to go there,” Menino said.

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Menino had warned “it will be very difficult” for Chick-fil-A to obtain licenses for a restaurant in Boston, where the chain was reportedly looking to open a location, after Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy defended his company’s donation to “anti-gay” groups such as Focus on the Family.

“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in the city of Boston,” Menino had said.

The remarks drew criticism from unexpected corners, including a Boston Globe editorial that chastised the mayor for not recognizing the company head’s right to religious beliefs – even as Chicago mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel anathematized Chick-fil-A in similar terms.

In remarks the Boston Herald captured on video Thursday, Menino cast his opposition to Cathy’s stance as a matter of personal opinion. “That’s my personal opinion, as mayor I can express myself as well as anybody else. I just don’t think he should come to Boston, and feed off the people of our city who are really a city that welcomes gay marriage, welcomes inclusion, and welcomes diversity,” he said.

Asked by another reporter in the Herald video whether Menino felt the same way towards the Boy Scouts and the Roman Catholic Church, who also do not promote gay rights, Menino responded, “They’re not funding organizations who are anti-gay. They’re not funding them, okay? It’s a different story.”