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San Jose to hang rainbow flags at airport Chick-fil-A in support of LGBTQ rights

"We know that this is a strong and inclusive community," an LGBTQ-rights advocate said. "We need to make sure that businesses there respect these values."
Image: PETA and the LGBT community protest outside of a Chick-fil-A in Hollywood, California, on Aug. 1, 2012.
Supporters of PETA and LGBT rights protest outside of a Chick-fil-A in Hollywood, California, on Aug. 1, 2012.Tibrina Hobson / FilmMagic file

A California city that last year approved the addition of a Chick-fil-A at its local airport now wants to send a message of support to LGBTQ people as the opening date for the fast-food restaurant nears.

The San Jose City Council voted 11-0 on Tuesday to hang rainbow flags in support of LGBTQ people and pink, blue and white flags for transgender rights at or near a Chick-fil-A due to open in May at San Jose International Airport.

Rosemary Barnes, a spokeswoman for the airport, said it will decide where to place the flags.

The council's vote comes as two other cities around the country have blocked Chick-fil-A from opening at their airports over concerns that the restaurant chain has a record of supporting anti-gay organizations.

Ken Yeager, the first openly gay elected official in Santa Clara County, told NBC News on Thursday that he submitted the flag idea to the city council at the Tuesday night meeting.

"I made the suggestion to put the flags next to the restaurant, and council members liked that idea but also said that maybe put flags elsewhere, too, like outside," Yeager said.

San Jose Vice Mayor Charles Jones said the plan is to have a flag or flags near the restaurant and outside of the airport.

The city council last year decided to allow a number of restaurants including Chick-fil-A to open in the airport food court, which some council members now say was an oversight.

Paul Escobar, president of a nonpartisan LGBTQ political action group in the Bay Area, organized a small protest outside of San Jose City Hall on Tuesday before meeting with council members about his concerns that having a Chick-fil-A at the airport would send the wrong message.

“This is public space," Escobar said. "We know that this is a strong and inclusive community. We need to make sure that businesses there respect these values."

Chick-fil-A has beenblocked from opening restaurants at two airports in recent weeks — at San Antonio International Airport in Texas and Buffalo Niagara International Airport in New York — over what some legislators and city council members have cited as the company's legacy of anti-LGBT behavior.

Earlier last month, ThinkProgress published a report based on newly released tax filings that claimed Chick-fil-A donated $1.8 million to anti-LGBTQ groups in 2017, including one that allegedly bars employees from "homosexual acts."

Chick-fil-A did not immediately return a request for comment from NBC News on the San Jose vote but said last week in a statement that “recent coverage about Chick-fil-A continues to drive an inaccurate narrative about our brand."

The company said it does not "have a political or social agenda" and that "it embraces all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity."

"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 company said.