Texas launches discrimination investigation into San Antonio Chick-fil-A airport ban
March 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The San Antonio City Council’s decision to ban Chick-fil-A from Texas’s San Antonio International Airport may cross the line from political bias to religious discrimination, according to Texas’s Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is pushing for both state and federal investigations into the matter.
Chick-fil-A was one of several vendors the company Paradies Lagardère proposed adding to the airport’s Terminal A, but its inclusion was voted down 6-4 last week. Councilman Roberto Treviño accused the company of a “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior” and claimed that its mere presence would harm travelers’ ability to “feel welcome when they walk through our airport.”
For years, liberals have advocated boycotting the Christian-owned chain due to CEO Dan Cathy’s stated opposition to same-sex “marriage” and the company’s past donations to social conservative groups such as Family Research Council and Focus on the Family. Most recently, activists have objected to recently released tax filings showing that the company donated more than $1.8 million in 2017 to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Paul Anderson Youth Home, and Salvation Army, all of which have been attacked as “anti-LGBT” for taking traditional biblical stances on homosexuality.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz criticized the City Council’s decision as “ridiculous” and inconsistent with the Lone Star State’s values. Now the state’s attorney general suggests that it could be even more serious, the Daily Caller reports.
Paxton sent letters dated March 28 to Ron Nirenberg and the city council notifying them that he has “directed my office to open an investigation into whether the City’s action violates state law,” as well as to U.S. Transporation Secretary Elaine Chao requesting that her department investigate whether the decision “violates various federal statutes and regulations to which the City is subject as a recipient of Department of Transportation grant funds,” which have among their conditions a ban on discrimination against religious creed.
“There is no evidence indicating that Chik-fil-A has ever maintained any policy or practice of discriminating against any group of people, and the City offered no such evidence as the basis of its action,” Paxton wrote. “Indeed, shortly after the City’s decision was announced, a member of the City Council who dissented from the City’s decision openly apologized to the Chairman of Chick-fil-A, noting that the restaurant ‘employs and serves everyone, without prejudice, discrimination or hate.’ Furthermore, Chick-Fil-A apparently agreed in the present instance to abide by all applicable nondiscrimination rules imposed by the contract with the City.”
“Nonetheless, the comments of the Council members made clear Chick-fil-A would be excluded based solely on its owners’ religious beliefs,” he lamented.
ABC affiliate KSAT reports that Nirenberg is withholding comment until after he’s analyzed Paxton’s letter, and Treviño is refusing to back down from his decision to lead the charge against Chick-fil-A. But one council member who voted with him is having second thoughts.
“Before the vote, I originally was thinking of ways to get more San Antonio-based restaurants in the airport,” said Councilman Manny Pelaez. “We were looking for local restaurants because we have a lot as a city to offer here. The second reason I was thinking to replace Chick-fil-A was because they close on Sundays and I wanted a business that stayed open during that time. Number three, the news broke out about where some were upset about their charitable giving.”
“Then I made comments about Chick-fil-A and what I had been told about their practices, which were perceived as hostile toward the LGBTQ community. I said things that were not accurate,” he admitted. “Turns out, Chick-fil-A actually does protect its employees from harassment and discrimination at the workplace. They got policies and enforce those policies. Their charitable giving is innocuous.”
Pelaez added that he recently went so far as to meet with 40 religious leaders to apologize.
The Texas-based First Liberty Institute has also called for a religious discrimination investigation into the matter, and Republican Texas representative Chip Roy said it would be “unfortunate if the council’s decision negatively impacted our ability to effectively advocate for San Antonio in Congress due to such rampant discriminatory action against a well regarded business with such a significant presence in our communities in central Texas and across the nation.”