Chick-Fil-A Loses Second Airport Opportunity in as Many Weeks

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday April 3, 2019

Chick-Fil-A continues to miss out on business opportunities thanks to its corporate culture being perceived as antithetical to the values of the communities in which the franchise would like to operate.

In late March, Chick-Fil-A found itself excluded from the San Antonio, Texas, airport when the city council there declined to give the company permission to open a new location at the airport, citing a "legacy of anti-LGBT behavior."

The CEO of the company famously decried marriage equality in 2012, declaring that to permit same-sex families the same legal rights as their heterosexual countrymen would be tantamount to "inviting God's judgment on our nation," and Chick-Fil-A has been firmly embroiled in the culture wars ever since, with a conservative-driven "Day of Appreciation" on the anti-gay side and a longstanding boycott among some LGBTQ equality advocates and their allies.

Though the company had officially stepped back from the culturally divisive issue of marriage equality, its corporate culture still lacks specific protections for LGBTQ employees. Moreover, it recently came to light that tax records show the company's foundation doled out almost $2 million in 2017 to a trio of overtly anti-gay organizations, with the bulk of the money — more than $1.5 million — going to the fellowship of Christian Athletes, which ThinkProgress reported "is a religious organization that seeks to spread an anti-LGBTQ message to college athletes and requires a strict 'sexual purity' policy for its employees that bars any 'homosexual acts.' "

News of those contributions broke just before the San Antonio city council declined to give Chick-Fil-A permission to open a new location at its airport. The council's action prompted an investigation by the Texas Attorney General's office, with AG Ken Paxton declaring, "The Constitution's protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-Fil-A's chicken."

"Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport," Paxton added.

But even as the legislature of state of Texas barreled forward with a "Religious Refusal" bill designed to shield any and all professionals licensed by the state from the consequences of overt, faith-based anti-LGBTQ discrimination, the company lost a second airport concession in Buffalo, New York — just a week after being denied in San Antonio, reported USA Today. A New York State Assemblyman led the charge, citing the company's "long history of supporting and funding anti-LGBTQ organizations."

Food news site Delish provided more detail, reporting that the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority had intended to grant Chick-Fil-A a concession at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport. Taking to Twitter, Assemblyman Sean Ryan called out both the NFTA and Chick-Fil-A, taking note of the fact that the state of New York — including its university system — has a travel ban in place with regard to North Carolina, where a state law targeting LGTBQ people, and trans people in particular, sparked a national pushback that saw the state lose billions and repeal the offensive law — only to replace it with a watered-down version of the same legislation that still targets sexual minorities.

"Recently, several SUNY swimmers were unable to stay in North Carolina for the Dill championship because of this travel ban," Assemblyman Ryan posted. "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. All of our state agencies need to be held to a higher standard."

The plans for a new Chick-Fil-A location at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport were quickly scrapped, Delish reported.

The company stuck to its official narrative, media sources noted.

"Recent coverage about Chick-fil-A continues to drive an inaccurate narrative about our brand," a statement from the company said. "We want to make it clear that our sole focus is on providing delicious food and welcoming everyone — not being a part of a national political conversation."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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