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Chick-fil-A is getting skewered by a group of New York lawmakers who are looking to block the company’s bid to open restaurants at state highway rest stops because of its owner’s anti-LGBTQ stance.
The Atlanta-based fast-food chain is among a handful of restaurants that were awarded contracts by the New York State Thruway Authority to be part of a $450 million plan to renovate 27 service areas.
But Chick-fil-A’s chief executive, Dan Cathy — whose father, S. Truett Cathy, founded the $8.4 billion company in 1946 — has publicly disparaged LGBTQ rights, which some legislators say should disqualify the privately owned company from opening eateries at state-run highway rest stops.
Assemblyman Harry Bronson, a Rochester-area Democrat, sent a letter to Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew Driscoll asking him to “re-examine the list of approved concessions” for the rest stops because of Chick-fil-A’s past support of anti-LGBTQ groups, according to the Auburn Citizen.
Bronson and two other legislators who signed the letter — Deborah Glick and Danny O’Donnell — are openly gay, according to the report.
Chick-fil-A’s foundation has given money to anti-LGBTQ organizations and supported opponents of same-sex marriage ballot initiatives, according to the report. Chick-fil-A’s restaurants are also closed on Sundays — missing out on more than $1 billion in revenue — so that its employees can go to church if they choose to.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also tried to ban Chick-fil-A from the city over Cathy’s stance. His efforts flopped and the Big Apple is now the home of the world’s largest Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A disputed that it currently has a political agenda, pointing to a 2019 announcement in which it pledged support to just three causes: education, homelessness and hunger.
“Chick-fil-A is excited about the partnership and the opportunity to further serve the residents of New York,” the company said in a statement. “We want to be clear that Chick-fil-A does not have a political or social agenda, and we welcome everyone in our restaurants.”
Assembly member Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) also said in a statement, “Bigotry and discrimination are not New York state values. New York state 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 toward true equality.”
The Thruway Authority said in a statement that it supports an “inclusive environment that treats the tens of millions of people that travel our system with dignity and respect,” adding that “there are no state taxpayer dollars or toll payer funds” being used to fund the redevelopments.
“Every restaurant brand included by Empire State Thruway Partners has a contractual responsibility, and is legally required, under New York State law, including the New York State Human Rights Law and Executive Orders, to adhere to the inclusive and non-discriminatory standards that New York State embraces,” the agency added.
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