Texas AG Investigating Chick-Fil-A’s Exclusion at Airport

March 30, 2019 Updated: March 30, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas—Texas’ attorney general opened an investigation Thursday into San Antonio’s decision to exclude Chick-fil-A from opening airport concession facilities due to the fast-food chain owners’ record on LGBT issues.

Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the investigation in a letter to San Antonio officials and stated his office will examine whether Texas’ second-largest city violated state law with the rejection. Paxton called the move “the opposite of tolerance” and a “discriminatory decision” based on the religious beliefs of the chain’s owners.

The Chick-fil-A restaurant is seen in Chantilly, Virginia
The Chick-fil-A restaurant is seen in Chantilly, Virg. on Jan. 2, 2015. (Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

“The Constitution’s protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-fil-A’s chicken,” Paxton said in the letter. “Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport.”

The attorney general’s action comes after the San Antonio City Council voted 6-4 last week to block Chick-fil-A from getting a new concession contract at the airport. The councilmembers voted instead for city staff to find another company for the contract.

“The City’s Attorney’s Office is reviewing the letter. I am withholding comment until we have had adequate time to analyze it,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in an emailed statement.

Councilman Manny Pelaez said at the meeting that Chick-fil-A has a history of funding organizations that lobby against gay conversion therapy. Pelaez said approving the restaurant would “help them fund those efforts by making money off of our airport.”

Paxton also told San Antonio officials he asked Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to investigate whether the city’s actions violated federal law and regulations prohibiting religious discrimination by federal grant recipients. Paxton has made religious freedom battles a focus of his office since being elected in 2014.

The Atlanta-based fast-food chain has faced opposition elsewhere over donating millions over the years to groups that oppose changing the definition of marriage to encompass same-sex couples. In 2012, the company’s chief operating officer criticized same-sex marriage, prompting some politicians to block the chain from expanding in certain areas.

A Chick-fil-A logo is seen on a take out bag at one of its restaurants in Bethesda
A Chick-fil-A logo is seen on a take out bag at one of its restaurants in Bethesda, MD. on July 28, 2012 . (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

Earlier this month, a dean at Rider University in New Jersey resigned over the school’s decision to not consider bringing Chick-fil-A to campus because of its views on LGBT issues.

By Clarice Silber

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