The city of San Jose in California wants to make the Chick-fil-A opening in its airport “the gayest in the country.”
City councilmember Raul Peralez declared the intention as part of a council meeting on Tuesday (April 9), which discussed the LGBT+ community’s opposition to the planned opening of a Chick-fil-A restaurant inside the Mineta San Jose International Airport.
Earlier in the day, LGBT+ community leaders and organisations protested against the planned opening of the Chick-fil-A restaurant at the city-owned airport and sent a letter to the city’s officials and lawmakers to hold a meeting to discuss the issue.
“I remember when this city was not welcoming and we’ve come a long way. I feel like this is a throwback to those times.”
— Ken Yeager
“My heart just sank when I saw the construction wall,” former County Supervisor and LGBT+ rights advocate Ken Yeager said of the planned opening, quoted in the San Jose Spotlight.
“I’ve been doing LGBTQ rights activities for 35 years. I remember when this city was not welcoming and we’ve come a long way. I feel like this is a throwback to those times.”
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Yeager proposed to put up LGBT+ pride flags in the airport “as a counter-signal to the discrimination supported by Chick-fil-A,” prompting Peralez’s remark, The Mercury Press reported.
The restaurant chain denies discriminating against the LGBT+ community, but over the years—and as recently as 2017—its charitable arm Chick-fil-A Foundation has donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT groups and organisations, as well as expressing opposition to same-sex marriage.
Chick-fil-A denied two-year extension at San Jose airport
San Jose awarded a contract to the HMS Host concessionaire for six years, which comprises Chick-fil-A among the restaurants included in the planned addition. Chick-fil-A is due to open in just over a month and has permission to operate until 2026.
At Tuesday’s meeting, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo acknowledged he “simply didn’t think enough” when the contract was initially approved, The Mercury News reported.
Other members of the council voiced opposition to the planned opening. Councillor Pam Foley, whose brother was gay and died after contracting HIV, said in a tweet her opposition to Chick-fil-A was “personal to me.” She added: “Chick-fil-A does not represent San José City’s values.”
According to the San Jose Spotlight, city attorney Rick Doyle warned against objecting to Chick-fil-A on grounds of political or religious beliefs as these may be found in violation of the First Amendment.
Councillors eventually decided to refuse a two-year extension on Chick-fil-A’s contract because the restaurant in closed on Sunday, one of the airport’s busiest days. They also adopted Yeager’s proposal to put up LGBT+ pride flags.