Legislators’ Beef Isn’t With Chicken, But Biblical Beliefs

A decision to allow Chick-fil-A to operate at New York State Thruway service areas is under fire from a growing number of  left-wing state lawmakers upset with the restaurant chain’s past support for traditional marriage and other Christian causes.

According to WIVB.com, the New York State Thruway Authority is planning a $450 million upgrade of its service areas. Recently, the Thruway Authority announced that Chick-fil-A—along with several other restaurant brands—had been approved as a service area concessioner.

In response, Asms. Harry Bronson (D-Rochester), Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan), and Daniel O’Donnell (D-Manhattan) have written to the Thruway Authority to request that it reconsider its decision to allow Chick-fil-A locations to open at Thruway rest stops. The three assemblymembers claim—without offering any factual basis—that “‘Chick-fil-A and its founders have a long and controversial history of opposing the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and families.’” Their letter further alleges that Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm “‘is still supporting anti-LGBTQ rights.’” In a later statement, Asm. Bronson accused Chick-fil-A of not recognizing the “‘human rights’” of the “‘gay community,’” adding that he would like to see the restaurant chain take “‘affirmative steps’” to support the “‘LGBTQ+ community.’” According to RochesterFirst.com, Asm. Bronson is circulating an online petition to push back against the Thruway Authority’s decision. Asm. Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and Senator Jeremy Cooney (D-Rochester) have lent their voices to the opposition campaign.

For its part, Chick-fil-A asserts that it “‘does not have a political or social agenda’” and that everyone is welcome at its restaurants.

State of Politics reports, “14 Assembly Republicans, including Assemblyman Mike Lawler, wrote a letter to the Thruway Authority in support of the fast-food chain.”

“I think it’ll be a great addition,” Assemblyman Lawler said. “I think it’s important for our economy to be welcoming to businesses and to want businesses to come here to New York state. So you know I welcome Chick-fil-A. If we want to be inclusive and we want to talk about the need to respect diversity, we need to respect everybody and their differences of opinion. I think this is just an unfortunate incident that many of my colleagues are politicizing.”

The pushback against Chick-fil-A is objectionable for two major reasons. First of all, it is misleading. The legislators have offered no support for the claim that Chick-fil-A has opposed anyone’s rights. That claim is a careless and misleading one that obscures the real reason for the LGBT opposition to Chick-fil-A: Its history of donating to Christian organizations and expressing support for traditional marriage.

Secondly, the attempt to use left-wing cancel culture tactics on Chick-fil-A reeks of intolerance and viewpoint discrimination. To put it simply, no one should have to adopt the political agenda of left-wing New York legislators to be able to serve chicken sandwiches at Thruway rest stops. It is not Chick-fil-A’s job to take “affirmative steps” to support the “LGBTQ+ community,” whatever that means; it is its job to serve food. As New York Conservative Party Chair Gerard Kassar aptly stated, if lawmakers “‘have a beef with Chick-fil-A, they don’t need to eat there, but they have no right to prevent others from doing so. Once you go down this path, it’s open season on every business, with Soviet-style litmus tests determining what we are able to think and what we are able to consume.’” Even the left-leaning editorial board of the Albany Times Union has taken issue with the legislators’ position, stating that “Chick-fil-A has a First Amendment right to express its views and donate to organizations without government punishment. And choosing or excluding state vendors based on political views and contributions sets a dangerous precedent.”