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Chick-fil-A Could Get Banned From Rest Stops In This State

The chain is unwelcome over its political views . . . yet again.

Chick-fil-A is no stranger to controversy, especially on the East Coast. Over the years, the chain has come head-to-head with a number of prominent East Coast politicians, many of whom have attempted to block its entry into their home states. Mayors of New York and Boston, Bill de Blasio and Thomas Menino, both had run-ins with Chick-fil-A in the mid-2000s.

Now, the brand is tangling once again with East Coasters, this time over adding its locations to 27 service areas along the New York State Thruway, part of a $450 million dollar state-run renovation plan. In a recent letter viewed by the Auburn Citizen, New York State Assemblyman Harry Bronson has called on the New York Thruway Authority to withdraw building contracts granted to Chick-fil-A.

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Like other politicians before him, Bronson objects to Chick-fil-A's presence in New York on the grounds of the company's history of supporting anti-LGBTQ+ causes. In his letter he cited Chick-fil-A's "[record] of opposing the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and families," and asked that the Thruway Authority reconsider its inclusion of Chick-fil-A in its plans, arguing that the company's presence in New York would "[send] a message to LGBTQ+ individuals and families that [the Thruway] doesn't share the same commitment to their civil rights as New York state."

Chick-fil-A responded with a statement of its own, maintaining that it had no political or social goals apart from charitable giving in the areas of homelessness, education, and hunger. Moreover, it was committed to "welcom[ing] everyone" into its restaurants, as reported by the New York Post.

The brand first came under scrutiny in 2012, when CEO Dan Cathy went on the record in support of "the biblical definition of the family unit." Following his statement, Cathy donated millions to conservative activist groups and opponents of same-sex marriage legislation, and while Chick-fil-A has since attempted to recast itself as roughly apolitical, engaged more in philanthropy than in politics, its association with Cathy's controversial stance has never been forgotten.

The New York Thruway, for its part, has not expressed any intention of canceling Chick-fil-A's contract, but has confirmed that it will hold all restaurant brands involved in the development project to the same "inclusive and non-discriminatory standards that New York State embraces." Whatever comes of the contract, it is worth noting that Chick-fil-A already operates multiple locations in New York state. Its New York City flagship store, which is five stories tall, is the largest Chick-fil-A location in the world.

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Owen Duff
Owen Duff is a freelance journalist based in Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry’s. Read more about Owen