Progressive group sides with Chik-fil-A against Buffalo airport

The New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union sided with Chick-fil-A Wednesday after the chicken sandwich chain was blocked from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

“Government actors cannot officially silence speech or take punitive actions based on a person’s or private entity’s political viewpoints," NYCLU Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs Erika Lorshbough said in a statement to The Hill.

"The First Amendment does not permit the NFTA to base its contracting decisions on the political views of a vendor.”

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The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) decided last week to not allow a Chick-fil-A in the Buffalo airport because of their history of donating to groups that do not uphold LGBTQ rights.

Democratic Assemblyman Sean Ryan confirmed the decision in a statement shared on Twitter.

“Earlier today I spoke with the vendor of the Buffalo Airport food court project, and they informed me they will not be opening a Chick-fil-A as a part of their airport project. A publicly financed facility like the Buffalo Niagara International Airport is not the appropriate venue for a Chick-fil-A restaurant. I applaud the decision that has been made to remove Chick-fil-A from the plans for this project," Ryan said in the statement.

"We hope in the future the NFTA will make every effort to contract with businesses that adhere to anti-discriminatory policies, and we’re confident another vendor who better represents the values of the Western New York community will replace Chick-fil-A as a part of this project in the very near future.” 

Buffalo is the second airport in two weeks to decide against allowing a Chick-fil-A franchise in their facility.

The San Antonio City Council voted to bar the chain from opening a new location in their airport, citing their charitable foundation's contributions to anti-LGBTQ groups.

Chick-fil-A has received criticism for being anti-LGBTQ since CEO Dan Cathy said the company supports “the biblical definition of the family unit.” 

Reports emerged this earlier this month that the company had donated to Christian organizations as recently as 2017.

Chick-fil-A told The Hill that it does not have a political agenda and criticized recent coverage of its being barred from airports.

“Recent coverage about Chick-fil-A continues to drive an inaccurate narrative about our brand. We want to make it clear that our sole focus is on providing delicious food and welcoming everyone – not being a part of a national political conversation. We do not have a political or social agenda,” the company said in a statement.

“More than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand. We embrace all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

-Updated 5:08 p.m.