Chick-fil-A pulled from Buffalo airport after company's alleged 'anti-LGBTQ rhetoric' sparks backlash
Chick-fil-A will no longer be opening up shop inside Buffalo Niagara International Airport, after a backlash erupted regarding the company’s alleged “anti-LGBTQ rhetoric” and views.
On Thursday, hospitality management company Delaware North and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) gave the green light to renovation plans that would have brought the chicken chain to the Western New York air hub, New York Upstate reports.
Assemblyman Sean Ryan, meanwhile, took to Twitter to call out the NFTA for the decision, arguing that it was wrong for the state-funded entity to do business "with corporations who fund hateful and divisive groups" - specifically, Chick-fil-A's financial contributions to groups that fuel "anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.”
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"I strongly urge the NFTA to reverse this decision,” the Democratic lawmaker wrote online. "I don’t believe the leadership of the NFTA intends to help spread hate and discrimination, but allowing a corporation like Chick-fil-A to do business at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport will help to fund continued divisive anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. New York is a welcoming state that celebrates diversity.”
“The views of Chick-fil-A do not represent our state or the Western New York community, and businesses that support discrimination have no place operating in taxpayer-funded public facilities,” he concluded.
The next day, Ryan tweeted that reps for the Buffalo Airport food court renovation project had informed him that Chick-fil-A would not ultimately open up inside the air hub – a decision that he said he “applauds.”
“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,” Ryan wrote online.
According to WKBW, the new Chick-fil-A was slated to open at the airport sometime during the fall of 2019. It remains unclear at this time what vendor will take Chick-fil-A’s place.
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Though reps for the fast food chain did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment on the story, they did offer the outlet the following statement on the matter.
“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.”
The news marks the second time in recent weeks that the hain was banned from opening at an airport regarding reported LGBTQ concerns.
On March 21, six members of the San Antonio City Council rejected including Chick-fil-A from a new food, drink and retail agreement for the airport, in relation to the company’s alleged 'legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior'
The day before, Think Progress published tax documents revealing that in 2017, the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave over $1.8 million in charitable donations to organizations that have come under scrutiny regarding their stance on LGBTQ issues.
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Over $1.65 million of that contribution was given to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which writes in an online “Statement of Faith” that it believes “marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman,” and believes “sexual intimacy” should only be expressed “within [that] context,” CBS News reports.
When contacted for comment, reps for Chick-fil-A told Fox News that the airport ban was "the first we heard” of the protest and its approval by the San Antonio City Council.
“We would still welcome the opportunity to have a thoughtful dialogue with the city council and plan to reach out to them. It’s unfortunate that mischaracterizations of our brand have led to decisions like this,” a spokesperson said.
According to New York Upstate, the Texas attorney general has since opened an investigation regarding whether the city of San Antonio “violated Chick-fil-A’s religious liberty” in their controversial decision.
Likewise, in November 2018, Rider University made headlines for turning down a student body survey that voted to bring Chick-fil-A to campus as a new fast-food option, citing concerns over the company’s attitudes toward the LGBTQ community.
The chain pushed back against the university's characterization, saying the restaurant is merely providing food and doesn't have any agenda.
Fox News’ Michael Bartiromo, Lukas Mikelionis and the Associated Press contributed to this report.