A group of New York lawmakers is hoping to stop Chick-fil-A from opening restaurants at state highway rest stops. The Democratic lawmakers claim the company’s CEO has “publicly disparaged LGBTQ rights” and should be disqualified from opening its restaurants at state-run rest areas. Chick-fil-A is one of several restaurants awarded contracts by the New York State Thruway Authority to be part of a $450 million renovation project to upgrade 27 service areas.
The Thruway Authority said in a statement to news 10 NBC that “its board of directors and staff support an inclusive environment that treats the tens of millions of people that travel our system with dignity and respect” they went on to say, “there are no state taxpayer dollars or toll payer funds supporting the redevelopment of the Thruway’s 27 service areas.”
Rochester-based Democrat Assemblyman Harry Bronson sent a letter to Thruway Executive Director Matthew Driscoll suggesting he “re-examine the list of approved concessions for the rest stops because of Chick-fil-A’s past support of anti-LGBTQ groups.”
After years of millions in donations to organizations hostile to LGBTQ+ rights, the decision to approve @ChickfilA as an approved concession at our rest stops is concerning to say the least.
— Harry B. Bronson (@HarryBBronson) July 10, 2021
Besides Bronson, Deborah Glick, and Danny O’Donnell, all of whom are openly gay New York state legislators, have signed the letter. Chick-fil-A is accused of donating to “anti-LGBTQ organizations and supported opponents of same-sex marriage ballot initiatives.”
In recent years Chick-fil-A has become a target of left-wing groups that opposed the company’s charitable donations to Christian groups such as the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. However, the company has since stopped donating to these organizations.
The popular chicken sandwich chain is also famously closed on Sundays, forfeiting $1 billion in revenue so their employees can attend church if they so choose.
Chick-fil-A maintains that they do not have a “political or social agenda,” stating “we welcome everyone in our restaurants,” and cited a 2019 announcement where the company said they “pledge to support just three causes: education, homelessness, and hunger.” However, in the summer of 2020, shortly after the death of George Floyd, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy was mocked for caving to the culture war radicals and shining the shoes of Christian rapper Lecrae.
New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, famous for her attempt to mandate covid-19 vaccines in New York, said, “bigotry and discrimination are not New York state values. New York has long worked to advance LGBTQ+ rights, but inviting a restaurant that is committed to blocking equality to open on state property will undermine our continuing efforts towards true equality.”
This is not the first time that Chick-fil-A has seen pushback from New York politicians. In 2016, only months after their first restaurant opened in New York City, Mayor de Blasio encouraged New Yorkers to boycott the chain. His efforts failed, numerous other locations opened in the city, and New York eventually became home to the world’s largest Chick-fil-A.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina took to Facebook to weigh in on the situation, stating in part “if such a disastrous move ever came about – banning a commercial business due to them expressing their First Amendment rights – it would set a horrible precedent” and that “Chick-fil-A is a lawful business with a great product.”