NEW YORK (WROC) — New York State Assembly member Harry Bronson requested the New York State Thruway Authority to re-consider the inclusion of Chick-fil-A in its $450 million service-station modernization project via a letter Friday.
Construction of the redevelopment project to renovate all 27 service stations along the New York State Thruway will begin July 29. The project’s focus is a new food concept, offering customers products and meals from nationally recognized restaurants — such as Popeyes, Panera and Chick-fil-A.
In their letter to the New York Thruway Authority, several assembly members including Harry Bronson questioned the decision to add Chick-fil-A in the project’s plans by quoting the company’s history with opposing the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and families.
“This move by the Thurway Authority, strikes us, as sending a message to LGBTQ+ communities that it doesn’t share the same commitment to their civil rights as New York State,” Bronson stated in the letter. “We are requesting that you re-examine the list of approved concessions for these rest spots considering Chick-fil-A’s action against the LGBTQ+ community.”
Bronson spoke with News 8 about his push to not include Chick-fil-A at rest stops. He says he has spent his life fighting for equality as a gay activist and a lawyer handling anti-discrimination matters.
“I support the idea that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, how you identify, who you love, we all have dignity, and with that dignity, we deserve equity and an opportunity to succeed,” Bronson said.
The assembly member also said he understands people have the right to choose where they eat, but he also believes this situation is different.
‘The difference in this scenario is it’s on state Thruway Authority property and they are leasing it, so it’s in essence the state saying, we are going to offer them an opportunity for them to make millions and millions of dollars, even though we know what the history is,” Bronson said.
Bronson has started an online petition for organizations and individuals to sign. He said he plans on speaking with the Executive Director of NYS Thruway Authority sometime this week.
A statement Monday from Jonathan Dougherty, Deputy Director of Media Relations & Communications @ NYS Thruway Authority:
“The New York State Thruway Authority, its Board of Directors, and staff support an inclusive environment that treats the tens of millions of people that travel our system with dignity and respect. Our private partner in the Service Area redevelopment project, Empire State Thruway Partners, explored a selection of restaurants and finalized agreements with specific brands to operate at the redeveloped service areas to enhance and improve the travel experience for our customers. There are no state taxpayer dollars or toll payer funds supporting the redevelopment of the Thruway’s 27 service areas. Every restaurant brand included by Empire State Thruway Partners has a contractual responsibility, and is legally required, under New York State law, including the New York State Human Rights Law and Executive Orders, to adhere to the inclusive and non-discriminatory standards that New York State embraces.”
The first phase of renovations will include 10 service areas to close on July 29th for construction, which some believe may cause extended delays and create issues for long-distance thruway traveling.