Chick-fil-A has a long history of donating money to conservative groups, and it's starting to plague the chain in historically liberal cities.
— Danni Santana
The news follows efforts by local San Antonio lawmakers to sever ties with the quick service chicken chain last week. In both cases, officials cited Chick-fil-A’s past charitable contributions to conservative groups opposed to the LGBTQ community as the reason.
ThinkProgress reported last week that the restaurant chain gave $1.8 million in 2017 to what it calls “discriminatory groups,” including The Salvation Army and The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a religious organization that spreads anti-LGBTQ messages to students. Chick-fil-A’s stores are known for closing on Sundays, a typical day of rest and worship for Christians.
“Airports usually strive to pick concessions that are popular with locals or representative of local cuisine and are usually focused on the food, not the politics,” said Madhu Unnikrishnan, editor of Skift Airline Weekly. “For two airports to boycott a restaurant because of the groups it donates to is unusual, and could signal the emergence of a new factor — the politics of the local community.”
News of the bans by the airports have been controversial among state lawmakers. On one hand, New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan, who was vehemently against Chick-fil-A opening in Buffalo tweeted, “I applaud the decision that has been made to remove Chick-fil-A from plans for the Buffalo Niagara International Airport,” citing that the city should not allow companies who “support anti-LGBTQ groups to do business at state-owned facilities.” But in Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton has launched a formal investigation to determine whether the city of San Antonio violated Chick-fil-A’s religious freedom when it banned the chain, according to CNN.
In a prepared statement, the Chick-fil-A said that coverage of its past donations has been unfairly misconstrued, claiming that the beliefs of the groups in question do not reflect those of the company.
“We want to take a moment to reiterate the mission and focus of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, which has always been and always will be to donate to programs that support a diverse array of youth and educational programs nationwide,” it said. “The 140,000 people who serve customers on a daily basis represent and embrace all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.”