The city of San Antonio has spent over $300,000 in legal fees since the City Council voted last March to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant in the San Antonio International Airport.
According to KENS-TV, the city has spent at least $315,880 on two lawsuits and a federal investigation — and other invoices are pending.
On March 21, City Councilman Roberto Treviño moved to approve a contract that would bring new stores and restaurants to the airport, but only if the council would approve an amendment that would exclude Chick-fil-A from the agreement.
Treviño’s motion came after a ThinkProgress report said the popular chicken chain had donated $1.8 million in 2017 to Christian organizations such as the Salvation Army that the liberal site claimed were discriminatory against LGBT individuals.
The contract and the amendment passed on a 6-4 vote.
“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion,” the councilman said in a news release after the vote.
“San Antonio is a city full of compassion,” he said, “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. I look forward to the announcement of a suitable replacement.”
However, other council members said the bill was religious discrimination. Councilman Greg Brockhouse proposed on April 11 that the City Council further amend the contract in order to bring Chick-fila-A back to the airport agreement.
“Every day the Chick-fil-A removal decision is allowed to stand hurts our reputation nationwide as a welcoming and inclusive city. It sends a message we are anti-faith and we cannot stand by without speaking the truth and standing up for our principles,” Brockhouse said in a statement.
“The removal of Chick-fil-A has embarrassed San Antonio,” he said. “It does not reflect who we are as a community. We have a chance to correct this mistake by reinstating Chick-fil-A and sending a message that we are open for all, open for faith and open for business.”
On April 18, however, the council voted to not reconsider the contract, leaving the chicken chain out of the airport.
As a result, the Texas legislature passed the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill, which would protect business and people that contribute to religious organizations from unfavorable actions by the government.
“The bill as filed ensures religious beliefs are protected from discrimination. It’s about the First Amendment and freedom of speech, freedom of religion — those uniquely American rights,” state Sen. Bryan Hughes, the author of the bill, said, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law July 18.
Today I signed the @ChickfilA law in Texas.
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
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) July 19, 2019
Chick-fil-A has long drawn criticism from the LGBT community for its donations to Christian ministries and charities and for CEO Dan Cathy’s stated support of the traditional biblical view of marriage.
However, the chain announced in November it would no longer donate to organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Instead, Chick-fil-A said, it would focus its giving on “a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger.”
The company also has donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which lists several faith organizations as hate groups.
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