Chick-fil-A’s history of supporting anti-LGBTQ causes has resurfaced in recent weeks after cities in Texas and New York reportedly scrapped plans to open franchises of the fast-food chain in their airports.
This week, however, a California city that last year approved the opening of a Chick-fil-A announced it would move forward with those plans ― but with a colorful, LGBTQ-inclusive twist.
The San Jose City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to hoist rainbow flags in support of LGBTQ people, and pink, blue and white flags for transgender rights at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, where a Chick-fil-A location is slated to open in June.
The vote came after a number of local LGBTQ advocacy groups and city officials expressed their distaste for the inclusion of a Chick-fil-A at the airport. The restaurant was included alongside Shake Shack and Great American Bagel as part of a contract approved last year with the HMS Host concessionaire.
Former county Supervisor Ken Yeager, the area’s first openly gay elected official and now head of the BAYMEC foundation, told The Mercury News that the flags would send airport patrons a “counter-signal” to the “discrimination supported by Chick-fil-A.”
Echoing those sentiments was Councilman Raul Peralez, who suggested the restaurant hire LGBTQ employees to ensure it becomes the “gayest Chick-fil-A in the country.”
Chick-fil-A, which is headquartered in Georgia, has been stoking controversy over its acknowledged financial support of anti-LGBTQ organizations ― which at one point reportedly included Exodus International and the Family Research Council ― for nearly a decade. The company’s billionaire CEO, Dan Cathy, publicly decried same-sex marriage in 2012, prompting outrage among LGBTQ groups and a number of well-publicized boycotts.
Though Chick-fil-A officials have since pledged not to “have a political or social agenda,” tax findings obtained by ThinkProgress in March found that the fast-food chain donated roughly $1.8 million to groups known to discriminate against LGBTQ people in 2017.
Earlier this month, Chick-fil-A released a statement to NBC and other outlets saying that recent coverage about the company “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,” the statement read. “We do not have a political or social agenda. 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.”