Thruway Authority responds to pushback of planned Chick-Fil-A restaurant

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The New York State Thruway Authority issued a response to criticism over its plans to include a Chick-Fil-A at its rest stops as part of a major renovation project.

In a statement sent to News10NBC Monday, the Thruway Authority said every restaurant included as a Thruway partner has both a contractual and legal responsibility to adhere to what the says is "inclusive and non-discriminatory standards."

The response comes after members of the LGTBQ community sent a letter to Governor Cuomo to reconsider the proposal for the restaurants to be added. Community members say Chick-Fil-A’s leaders have opposed gay rights in the past, including donating to causes that are "hostile" to LGTBQ rights.

New York Democratic Assemblyman Harry Bronson issued a statement Saturday adding the restaurant would send the wrong message. His office set up a petition for people to connect to Cuomo’s office.

"Here in New York state, we have said no matter who you love, or how you identify, that we’re going to respect you. We’re going to make sure that you have laws that will protect you, and we’re going to recognize your human rights," Bronson said.

He says the statement missed the mark.

"They’re hanging their heads on a legality, and technicality. That’s not what this is about," Bronson said.

He does acknowledge that people do have a choice to eat where ever they want.

"We need Chick-Fil-A to take responsibility, repudiate what they have done historically, and until they do that at the very least the state, and the State Authority should not be doing business with them," Bronson said.

The restaurant chain would be among 10 new restaurants as part of a $450 million project to redevelop all 27 service areas on the Thruway.

In a statement to News10NBC, Chick-Fil-A responded to what it called "outdated" and "misleading" claims:

“Chick-fil-A is excited about the partnership and the opportunity to further serve the residents of New York. We want to be clear that Chick-fil-A does not have a political or social agenda, and we welcome everyone in our restaurants. We are proud to be represented by more than 200,000 diverse team members nationwide, and we strive to be a positive influence in our local communities. We do this, in part, by contributing $25,000 to food banks in each community where we open a new restaurant and donating more than 10 million meals through our Shared Table program.”

Read the full statement from the 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.”