The fast-food chain Chick-fil-A is once again making headlines over allegations that it donates money to anti-LGBTQ+ organisations through its “charitable” arm the Chick-fil-A Foundation. This time, the self-proclaimed ‘home of the original chicken sandwich’ has been told it can’t open an airport concession at San Antonio Airport (SAT) after the city council specifically called out its apparent opposition to LGBTQ+ people.
“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. 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,” explained Councilman Roberto Treviño after the decision was made on March 21.
“Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport,” the councilman continued.
The decision by San Antonio’s council was soon copied by Buffalo in New York who have also banned the family-owned and outwardly Christian restaurant chain from opening an airport concession. Explaining the reason for the ban, New York Democratic assemblyman, Sean Ryan said: “the views of Chick-fil-A do not represent our state or the Western New York community.”
But a Chick-fil-A ban may prove to be unconstitutional. An investigation is already underway in Texas, with the State’s Attorney General Ken Paxton declaring that the Constitution’s protection of religious liberty was “under assault”.
“The city’s decision to specifically exclude Chick-fil-A from a government program based on the sincerely-held religious beliefs of its leadership raises serious constitutional questions,” Paxton wrote in a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation secretary Elaine Chao.
In fact, Paxton questions whether Chick-fil-A has ever even donated any money to anti-LGBTQ+ organisations.
That’s certainly the line coming from the Atlanta-based fast-food chain. In a recent blog post, Chick-fil-A said the most recent accusations are part of a “long trend” that is driving an “inaccurate narrative” about the firm’s donations.
“Our intention is to have a positive influence on our communities by donating to programs that benefit youth and education and are welcoming to all,” explains Chick-fil-A’s Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility Rodney Bullard. “We are proud of the impact we’ve been able to make so far and we have a lot yet to do.”
Chick-fil-A says it’s most recently available accounts show it donated around $9.9 million to a variety of wholesome family-friendly organisations including the Salvation Army, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Junior Achievement.
Pressure group ThinkProgress claims the Fellowship of Christian Athletes outright bans homosexual participants, while another charity that received $6,000 from Chick-fil-A taught young boys that homosexuality is wrong. It’s also worth pointing out that the original accusations date back to 2012 so Chick-fil-A’s response may not be entirely accurate.
Putting that to one side for a moment, what if the Chick-fil-A ban does prove to be unconstituional? Well, in that case, San Antonio and Buffalo could learn from San Jose’s approach to the chicken outlet.
San Jose Airport (SJC) had already approved a Chick-fil-A concession last year before the latest controversy over the chain and so its committed to letting the company open up shop. But according to Out magazine, the city council has voted to decorate the concession with gay Pride and transgender Pride flag when it opens in just over a month’s time.
Councilman Raul Peralez said he hoped Chick-fil-A would hire LGBTQ+ employees making it the “gayest Chick-fil-A in the country.”
Oh, and while San Jose is stuck with Chick-fil-A for now, that might not be the case when its contract comes up for renewal. The council has approved a ban on renewing contracts to businesses that don’t operate seven days a week. Chick-fil-A famously (and very proudly) does not open on Sunday’s.
If, however, you do desperately need a chicken sandwich fix then you can still find Chick-fil-A in 33 airport locations across the United States.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.