By Bill Parry
Members of the borough’s LGBT community are upset that Chick-fil-A will open its first restaurant in Queens this fall. The Atlanta-based chain with a history of anti-LGBT activism will open a location in the food court of Queens Center mall at 90-15 Queens Blvd.
“Chick-fil-A is anti-LGBT,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “I am deeply disturbed that Chick-fil-A continues to give 25 percent of their charitable contributions to anti-LGBT organizations, including over $1 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This group imparts a strong anti-LGBT message by forcing their employees and volunteers to adhere to a policy that prohibits same-sex love.”
In 2012, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy said his company was “guilty as charged” of opposing same-sex marriage and in 2014 the company’s charitable foundation distributed nearly $4.3 million to non-profit organizations. Nearly a quarter of the donations went to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which encourages individuals to reject “impure” lifestyles.
“Our intent is not to support groups with political agendas,” Chick-fil-A spokeswoman Desiree’ Fulton said. “The Chick-fil-A Foundation partners with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes specifically to provide free summer sports camps for hundreds of young students in urban environments throughout the nation.”
Dromm isn’t buying it.
“I hope that the Queens Center mall will reconsider giving a company so deeply involved in anti-gay discrimination a lease on their property,” he said.
A spokesman for Queens Center mall declined comment.
Astoria gay activist Brendan Fay, co-founder of the all-inclusive St. Pat’s for All Parade in Sunnyside, was surprised to learn Chick-fil-A would set up shop less than two miles from his march’s finish line in Woodside.
“Anti-LGBT discrimination is not good for business and New Yorkers need to send a strong message that prejudice and exclusion has no place in New York City or in the profits from where we eat and shop,” Fay said. “Not many are aware of the anti-gay views of corporate executive Dan Cathy who said that Chick-fil-A supports ‘the biblical definition of the family unit’ and that gay marriage invites ‘God’s judgment on our nation.’”
Fay says people have a freedom of choice as to where they choose to shop and spend and the LGBT community should think twice before crossing Chick-fil-A’s threshold when it opens at the Queens Center mall this fall.
“The LGBT community has a history of thinking before we shop and where we eat,” he said. “Residents of Queens need to think twice before entering Chick-fil-A, whose profits from purchases go to fund anti-LGBT equality Family Research Council and Exodus International which promotes ex-gay therapy.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he understands why members of the Queens LGBT community are upset.
“But, this is a country in which people have a right to open a business,” he said. “I think what the ownership of Chick-fil-A has said is wrong. I’m certainly not going to patronize them and I wouldn’t urge any other New Yorker to patronize them. But they do have a legal right.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr