Protests scuttle plans for Chick-fil-A at Buffalo airport – Buffalo News

Protests scuttle plans for Chick-fil-A at Buffalo airport - Buffalo News
The Texas attorney general is investigating San Antonio for banning Chick-fil-A from its airport
Air travelers hungry for a chicken sandwich can stop at a Chick-fil-A restaurant inside 28 airports around the United States, but not at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Nor will they any time soon. Delaware North Cos. on Friday apparently scuttled plans for the areas second Chick-fil-A announced not even 24 hours previously by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.

Amid protests lodged by Democratic Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan of Buffalo over Chick-fil-As alleged discrimination against LGBT people, the worldwide concession company based in Buffalo had not addressed its plans late Friday after Ryan and the NFTA said Delaware North would shelve plans for the popular chain.

Paxton also sent a letter to Secretary Elaine Chao of the U.S. Department of Transportation requesting that her agency open an investigation into the City of San Antonios potential violation of federal law and Transportation Department regulations when the city banned Chick-fil-A from operating a restaurant in the San Antonio International Airport based on the companys religious beliefs.

NFTA officials had sounded upbeat on Thursday while unveiling plans to upgrade concourse concessions at a board meeting. None of the NFTA commissioners sounded objections. But all that changed late Thursday when Ryan protested. By Friday morning, the assemblyman announced that Delaware North had backed off its Chick-fil-A plans.

A publicly financed facility like the Buffalo Niagara International Airport is not the appropriate venue for a Chick-fil-A restaurant, Ryan said. We hope in the future the NFTA will make every effort to contract with businesses that adhere to anti-discriminatory policies, and were 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.

According to a City of San Antonio press release, District 1 City Councilman Roberto Trevino made a motion to approve the Food and Beverage Retail Prime Concession Agreement with Paradies Lagardere at the San Antonio airport on the condition that it would exclude the Chick-fil-A concept on March 21.

Video: Texas Attorney General investigating Chick-fil-A ban at San Antonio airport

Texas AGs Office opens investigation into San Antonios decision to ban Chick-fil-A

Ryan has emerged as an NFTA champion in the State Legislature after he and Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy spearheaded efforts to include as much as $100 million in capital funding expected in the new state budget slated for passage this weekend.

Late Friday, the NFTA also acknowledged the popular chain would not set up shop at the Cheektowaga airport. Spokeswoman Helen Tederous would say only that the authority is working with Delaware North to identify and offer concession choices at the airport.

“The Constitutions protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-fil-As chicken, Paxton wrote in his letter to San Antonios leadership. Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport.

Chick-fil-A, which was expected to close the airport restaurant on Sundays as it does throughout the nation, has encountered criticism after some of its officials had publicly opposed same-sex marriage and supported organizations some viewed as discriminatory.

The press release from the Texas Attorney Generals Office stated that the First Amendment protects individual and closely held companies from governmental restrictions based on their religious views or religious status.

In an emailed statement Friday, Chick-fil-A said some media coverage “drives an inaccurate narrative” about the restaurant chain.

According to USA Today, a legal group called the First Liberty Institute issued a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao alleging that it believes San Antonio City Council members may have engaged in “religious discrimination” when making the decision to not allow the fast food chain to set up shop in the airport.

“We do not have a political or social agenda or discriminate against any group,” the statement said. “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.

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The chain features 33 outlets in 28 U.S. airports, including Albany International. But they have proven a source of controversy, such as in San Antonio,  where the City Council this month considered a new concession contract for its airport but insisted Chick-fil-A be excluded. The Washington Post reported last week that the ban was approved after Councilmember Roberto Trevino said he would not support a company with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.

But that move sparked another controversy when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton began investigating whether the Council had violated laws prohibiting religious discrimination.

The Constitutions protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-fil-As chicken, Paxton wrote. Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport.

The areas first Chick-fil-A, which opened on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga in November, still draws overflow crowds and long lines at its drive-thru.

chick-fil-a, elaine chao, homosexuality, ken paxton, lgbt, manny pelaez, religious discrimination, san antonio, san antonio city council, san antonio international airport, texas

March 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The San Antonio City Council’s decision to ban Chick-fil-A from Texas’s San Antonio International Airport may cross the line from political bias to religious discrimination, according to Texas’s Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is pushing for both state and federal investigations into the matter.

Chick-fil-A was one of several vendors the company Paradies Lagardère proposed adding to the airport’s Terminal A, but its inclusion was voted down 6-4 last week. Councilman Roberto Treviño accused the company of a “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior” and claimed that its mere presence would harm travelers’ ability to “feel welcome when they walk through our airport.”

For years, liberals have advocated boycotting the Christian-owned chain due to CEO Dan Cathy’s stated opposition to same-sex “marriage” and the company’s past donations to social conservative groups such as Family Research Council and Focus on the Family. Most recently, activists have objected to recently released tax filings showing that the company donated more than $1.8 million in 2017 to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Paul Anderson Youth Home, and Salvation Army, all of which have been attacked as “anti-LGBT” for taking traditional biblical stances on homosexuality.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz criticized the City Council’s decision as “ridiculous” and inconsistent with the Lone Star State’s values. Now the state’s attorney general suggests that it could be even more serious, the Daily Caller reports.

Paxton sent letters dated March 28 to Ron Nirenberg and the city council notifying them that he has “directed my office to open an investigation into whether the City’s action violates state law,” as well as to U.S. Transporation Secretary Elaine Chao requesting that her department investigate whether the decision “violates various federal statutes and regulations to which the City is subject as a recipient of Department of Transportation grant funds,” which have among their conditions a ban on discrimination against religious creed.

“There is no evidence indicating that Chik-fil-A has ever maintained any policy or practice of discriminating against any group of people, and the City offered no such evidence as the basis of its action,” Paxton wrote. “Indeed, shortly after the City’s decision was announced, a member of the City Council who dissented from the City’s decision openly apologized to the Chairman of Chick-fil-A, noting that the restaurant ‘employs and serves everyone, without prejudice, discrimination or hate.’ Furthermore, Chick-Fil-A apparently agreed in the present instance to abide by all applicable nondiscrimination rules imposed by the contract with the City.”

“Nonetheless, the comments of the Council members made clear Chick-fil-A would be excluded based solely on its owners’ religious beliefs,” he lamented.

ABC affiliate KSAT reports that Nirenberg is withholding comment until after he’s analyzed Paxton’s letter, and Treviño is refusing to back down from his decision to lead the charge against Chick-fil-A. But one council member who voted with him is having second thoughts.

“Before the vote, I originally was thinking of ways to get more San Antonio-based restaurants in the airport,” said Councilman Manny Pelaez. “We were looking for local restaurants because we have a lot as a city to offer here. The second reason I was thinking to replace Chick-fil-A was because they close on Sundays and I wanted a business that stayed open during that time. Number three, the news broke out about where some were upset about their charitable giving.”

“Then I made comments about Chick-fil-A and what I had been told about their practices, which were perceived as hostile toward the LGBTQ community. I said things that were not accurate,” he admitted. “Turns out, Chick-fil-A actually does protect its employees from harassment and discrimination at the workplace. They got policies and enforce those policies. Their charitable giving is innocuous.”

Chick-fil-A is not welcome at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport

The Texas-based First Liberty Institute has also called for a religious discrimination investigation into the matter, and Republican Texas representative Chip Roy said it would be “unfortunate if the council’s decision negatively impacted our ability to effectively advocate for San Antonio in Congress due to such rampant discriminatory action against a well regarded business with such a significant presence in our communities in central Texas and across the nation.”

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