Chick-fil-A

Three gay New York Assembly members are protesting a plan to include Chick-fil-A sites in New York Thruway rest stops.

ALBANY (TNS) — Three openly gay members of the New York Assembly penned a letter to the Thruway Authority saying that Chick-fil-A should not be allowed to open locations inside Thruway rest stops as planned, because of the fast food chain’s history of “opposing the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.”

Assembly members Harry Bronson, Deborah Glick and Daniel O’Donnell wrote the letter. Glick was the first openly gay or lesbian member of the legislature, O’Donnell was the first openly gay man and Bronson, of Rochester, was the first openly gay member not from New York City. Bronson also owns an eatery, Equal=Grounds, a coffeehouse that he notes is “an inclusive public meeting place,” in Rochester’s South Wedge neighborhood.

The charity associated with Chick-fil-A and its founders for years donated to organizations, mostly religious groups, that took anti-LGBTQ+ stances. This has become a frequent talking point about Chick-fil-A, drawing controversy as the company has grown and established new locations. The company changed its charitable giving model last year to head off criticism of its previous support of anti-LGBTQ oranizations, Vox reported. Its focuses now instead are on education, homelessness and hunger.

The Thruway is undergoing a $450 million project to renovate its rest stops that is starting this month. As part of the project, the Thruway announced a deal that would allow a host of different restaurants to open locations inside the rest stops, including Shake Shack, Popeyes, Panda Express, Starbucks, Panera and Chick-fil-A.

”As you may be aware, Chick-fil-A and its founders have a long and controversial history of opposing the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and families,” Friday’s letter states. “This move by the Thruway Authority, strikes us, as sending a message to LGBTQ+ individuals and families that it doesn’t share the same commitment to their civil rights as New York State. We are requesting that you re-examine the list of approved concessions for these rest spots considering Chick-fil-A’s actions against the LGBTQ+ community.”

The company already has locations throughout the state, including Buffalo, Rochester, New York City and the Albany International Airport — which is also run by a public authority, like the Thruway.

A spokesman for the fast food company offered a statement in response to the letter: “Chick-fil-A is excited about the partnership and the opportunity to further serve the residents of New York. We want to be clear that Chick-fil-A does not have a political or social agenda, and we welcome everyone in our restaurants. We are proud to be represented by more than 200,000 diverse team members nationwide, and we strive to be a positive influence in our local communities. We do this, in part, by contributing $25,000 to food banks in each community where we open a new restaurant, and donating more than 10 million meals through our Shared Table program.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was also cc’d on the Assembly members’ letter. As governor he pushed for legalization of gay marriage in 2011 and banned nonessential state travel to North Carolina over its trans bathroom law in 2016. This year, the Legislature passed — and Cuomo signed — the Gender Recognition Act, which allows more flexible gender identities on official state forms.

A spokesman for Cuomo did not respond to a request for comment.

”The New York State Thruway Authority, 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,” said Thruway spokesman Jonathan Dougherty in an email.

The Thruway is partnering with a private company from Ireland, called Applegreen, which in turn is working with Chick-fil-A to bring locations to the rest stops. Dougherty said no taxpayer or toll dollars are being spent on the renovations (the $450 million is being generated because of a partnership with private business the authority says), and all the restaurants will have to follow existing state nondiscrimination laws.

{p class=”krtText”}

{p class=”krtText”}© 2021 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) Visit the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) at www.timesunion.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

{p class=”krtShirttail”}

Trending Food Videos

Loading...
Loading...