Buffalo (NY) Airport Is Latest To Reject Chick-fil-A Over Anti-LGBTQ Donations April 1, 2019

Buffalo (NY) Airport Is Latest To Reject Chick-fil-A Over Anti-LGBTQ Donations

Just weeks after San Antonio officials approved a slate of airport restaurants only after Chick-fil-A was removed from the list, Buffalo Niagara International Airport (in New York) is going down that same path.

Until Thursday, the Christian-owned restaurant was on track to appear in the airport…

Delaware North, the company that runs the food operations at the Western NY airport, had plans to renovate the food options by adding a Chick-fil-A. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority approved tentative plans Thursday for the process to move forward.

That changed after Assemblyman Sean Ryan voiced his disapproval on Twitter:

Chick-fil-A has a long history of supporting and funding anti-LGBTQ organizations… As a state entity, the NFTA has a responsibility to avoid doing business with corporations who fund hateful and divisive groups. I strongly urge the NFTA to reverse this decision.

It sends the wrong message to allow a state entity to do business with an anti-LGBTQ corporation when our SUNY system worked to remain in compliance with the travel ban.

Ryan wasn’t wrong here. In the past, Chick-fil-A’s owner Dan Cathy was criticized for his donations to anti-LGBTQ hate groups, which the restaurant’s corporate entity also supported. They no longer give money to explicitly bigoted hate groups, but ThinkProgress noted last month that, in 2017, they still gave $1.8 million to Christian groups like Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which bars employees from engaging in “homosexual acts,” and the Salvation Army, which has a history of discriminatory behavior.

By the next day, the NFTA had informed Ryan that Chick-fil-A would not be opening in the airport. Why the change? That’s unclear. But the decision was enough to infuriate conservative Christians.

We hope in the future the NFTA will make every effort to contract with businesses that adhere to anti-discrimination policies, and we’re confident another vendor who better represents the values of the Western New York community will replace Chick-fil-A as a part of this project in the very near future.

Chick-fil-A’s only response was denial.

“Recent coverage about Chick-fil-A continues to drive an inaccurate narrative about our brand. We do not have a political or social agenda or discriminate against any group. More than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand,” a spokesperson told WKBW. “We embrace all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

What a weird response. They’re answering a question no one ever asked. No one’s saying the company discriminates against employees. The criticism is that the corporation itself gives donations to groups that push a conservative Christian anti-LGBTQ agenda. Giving money to Chick-fil-A, then, ultimately means you’re funding bigotry.

There’s no law that says airports are required to have a Chick-fil-A. There’s no discrimination here, especially when you realize there are plenty of Christian-owned businesses in airports. The idea that this controversy is the result of inaccurate narratives about the company is to ignore the very real donations they’ve made.

I’ve heard some people say these decisions are good on a financial level, too, since the restaurant is closed on Sundays. But Chick-fil-A makes more in six days than most other restaurants make in seven. It’s a financial hit to these airports to say no to the restaurant — but these cities believe that’s a hit worth taking to make it clear that LGBTQ rights aren’t up for debate.

(Image via Shutterstock. Portions of this article were published earlier)

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