One of the most well-loved and best recognized fast food brands in the U.S. is getting embroiled in politics once again after Democratic lawmakers made a move to prevent Chick-fil-A from building restaurants along a major toll road that is part of a $450 million modernization project.
New York legislators led by Harry Bronson issued a letter to the state's Thruway Authority, asking it to hinder any of Chick-fil-A's plans of opening chains at rest stops along the New York State Thruway, a major road that cuts through the state. Additional signatories in the letter were assembly members Danny O'Donnell and Deborah Glick.
According to Christian Headlines, Chick-fil-A is being targeted by Democrats because its founders are devout Christians who once spoke against same-sex marriage legalization. The organization also reportedly donated to the National Christian Charitable Foundation (NCF), which showed fervent opposition to the Equality Act, which adds protections to the LGBT community. Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy was one of the NCF's "high-dollar donors," Insider reported.
The Democrats argued in the letter to the New York State Thruway Authority that Chick-fil-A has a "long and controversial history" relating to the anti-LGBT movement. The Democrats argued, "this move by the Thruway Authority strikes us as sending a message to LGBTQ+ communities that it doesn't share the same commitment to their civil rights as New York State."
In 2019, Vox reported how ThinkProgress analyzed tax filings from Chick-fil-A Foundation and found that the organization donated more than $1.8 million to three groups labeled as anti-LGBT.
The charitable arm of America's favorite fast food gave over $1.6 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a religious organization that mandates its employees not to engage in "homosexual acts" and $150,000 to the Salvation Army, which has long been accused of anti-LGBT discrimination.
"We are requesting that you re-examine the list of approved concessions for these rest spots considering Chick-fil-A's action against the LGBTQ+ community," the Democratic assemblymen asked.
But Chick-fil-A, which the Chicago Sun Times reported topped the American Customer Satisfaction Index list of best fast food restaurants with a score of 83/10, maintains that it does not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a statement to Fox Business, Chick-fil-A said that the company "does not have a political or social agenda, and we welcome everyone in our restaurants." America's favorite fast food restaurant added that they are "proud to be represented by more than 200,000 diverse team members nationwide."
The New York State Thruway Authority appeared to stand by its decision, saying in a statement that the redevelopment of the Thruway's 27 service areas are not being funded by state taxpayer money and that all organizations building restaurants in the must "adhere to the inclusive and non-discriminatory standards that New York State embraces."