Story at a glance
- Since March 2019, San Antonio has been in a legal battle to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening a franchise in the San Antonio International Airport.
- The city council wants to keep the city inclusive and compassionate and accuses the fast food giant of promoting anti-LGBTQ+ groups.
- Two lawsuits and a federal investigation are underway, as Texas Gov. Abbott signed a bill aiming to defend religious liberty.
The city of San Antonio has spent approximately $315,800 dollars on preventing Chick-fil-A from opening a franchise in its local airport, local outlet KENS5 reports.
The fight between the Texas city and the fast food franchise began in March 2019 when the city council voted 6-4 in favor of excluding Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant in the San Antonio International Airport due to the chain’s alleged anti-LGBTQ+ positions.
The Atlanta-based restaurant has donated $1.8 million to several anti-LGBTQ organizations, and Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy “remains committed to Christian values,” according to The Christian Post. Cathy faced backlash when voicing opposition to gay marriage in 2012.
Originally reported in USA Today, Councilman Roberto Treviño said the decision was based on San Antonio’s mission “to become a champion of equality and inclusion.”
“San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior. Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport,” he explained.
The company responded by stating that it “would welcome the opportunity to have a thoughtful dialogue with the city council and we invite all of them into our local stores to interact with the more than 2,000 team members who are serving the people of San Antonio.”
Despite the rationale behind the ban, the city now faces two lawsuits and a federal investigation.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opened an investigation to see if San Antonio violated federal law by denying Chick-fil-A a contract to open in the airport due to the company’s religious beliefs.
“The City of San Antonio’s decision to exclude a respected vendor based on the religious beliefs associated with that company and its owners is the opposite of tolerance,” Attorney General Paxton said in a prepared statement. “The city’s discriminatory decision is not only out of step with Texas values, but inconsistent with the Constitution and Texas law.”
Vice reports that District Judge David Canales ruled that one of the two lawsuits can proceed. It was brought against the city by five plaintiffs from San Antonio.
The following July, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed the ‘Chick-fil-A law’ bill, or SB 1978, to formally protect businesses from government discrimination based on creed or religious beliefs.
Today I signed the @ChickfilA law in Texas.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) July 19, 2019
And, had a great lunch.
No business should be discriminated against simply because its owners donate to a church, the Salvation Army, or other religious organization.
Texas protects religious liberty. pic.twitter.com/1QwSTuoWu0
Speaking to NBC via email, Texas State Representative Mary González, the inaugural chair of Texas’s first LGBTQ Caucus, said that she was “disappointed that SB 1978 took energy away from passing proactive legislation that actually improves Texans' lives," and continued to say that in 2017, 42 percent of LGBTQ+ teens in Texas considered suicide.
González concluded by saying the bill perpetuates “harmful rhetoric” that “adds to a culture of bullying, shame and isolation already faced by LGBTQ youth in our state."