The Buffalo Niagara International Airport nixed plans late last week to add a Chick-fil-A location to its food court, after a New York state lawmaker raised concerns over the company’s charitable giving.
The decision is the latest setback for the company, which, according to recent tax returns first highlighted by ThinkProgress, continues to donate money to several anti-LGBTQ organizations.
New York Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D) spoke out last week after the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) approved a tentative agreement with its food vendor, Delaware North, to add Chick-fil-A to the airport’s food selection. Ryan said he was “disappointed” by the decision and called out NFTA on social media, urging it to “reverse this decision and identify a different restaurant to operate at the airport.”
On Friday, Ryan announced he’d spoken with Delaware North, which informed him it would not be proceeding with Chick-fil-A. He applauded the decision, stating that “a publicly financed facility like the Buffalo Niagara International Airport is not the appropriate venue for a Chick-fil-A restaurant.”
The NFTA issued its own statement apparently confirming the change:
First and foremost, the NFTA is an organization that prides itself on its strong commitment to diversity and inclusion and stand firmly against any form of discrimination. We have the (utmost) respect for Assemblyman Ryan and consider him a great partner and friend to us. We will reach out to him and discuss his concerns.
ThinkProgress reached out to NFTA for additional comment on the decision but did not hear back by the time of publication.
Delaware North has not yet commented publicly on the matter and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Chick-fil-A released a statement on Friday as well, repeating an earlier claim that recent media coverage had driven “an inaccurate narrative about our brand.” The company insisted it has no “political or social agenda,” but did not address the anti-LGBTQ policies of the organizations to which it has consistently given for many years.
As ThinkProgress reported last month, Chick-fil-A donated $1.8 million in 2017 to organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Salvation Army, which have long records of opposing LGBTQ rights. Among other things, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes requires employees to sign a strict “purity pledge,” and has a policy that bars them from any “homosexual acts.”
Chick-fil-A also donated that year to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a “Christian residential home for troubled youth,” which teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and same-sex marriage is a “rage against Jesus Christ and His values.” However, the company told ThinkProgress it has since ended charitable contributions to the organization, citing “a blog post from 2010 surfaced that does not meet Chick-fil-A’s commitment to creating a welcoming environment to all.”
Chick-fil-A insisted its giving “has always focused on youth and education.”
In late March, news of the company’s donations similarly prompted the city of San Antonio to remove a planned Chick-fil-A location from its airport concessions list. The city council voted 6-4 to remove the chain from a seven-year agreement, with Councilman Roberto Treviño explaining that “San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) responded shortly thereafter, launching an investigation into the city council’s decision, claiming it was “discriminatory” against Chick-fil-A’s religious beliefs and that the decision violated the U.S. Constitution and Texas law.
Paxton, who has a storied history of opposing LGBTQ equality and is an advocate of state sovereignty, claimed the exclusion was “the opposite of tolerance.” He also tweeted a fake ad for the company, posting an image of the chain’s waffle fries along with the words “come and take it.”