Texas AG Probes 'Potential Discrimination' In Airport's Axing Of Chick-Fil-A

The San Antonio City Council voted this month to block the opening of the chicken chain in an airport, calling out its anti-LGBTQ stance.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is launching an investigation into whether the San Antonio City Council violated religious freedoms by blocking an airport from opening a Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant.

In a letter to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and city council members, Paxton said he notified U.S. Department of Transportation secretary Elaine Chao of his concerns that the move may have broken “federal law and applicable federal regulations.”

Last week, the council voted to ax the chicken chain from a plan for new businesses in the city’s airport, citing the company’s “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior” as a key factor.

However, Paxton thinks the decision may have overstepped First Amendment rights.

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

In his address to Chao, Paxton argued Chick-fil-A was suffering “potential discrimination” for its stance against the LGBTQ community. 

In making his case, the attorney general added that there was no evidence the chain “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.”

While Chick-fil-A may not discriminate against patrons, earlier this month, tax filings showed that the chain continued to donate to anti-LGBTQ charities in 2017, giving about $1.8 million that year to three groups with histories of discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

Controversy over the business was sparked in 2012 after CEO Dan Cathy embraced homophobia and rebuked same-sex marriage in a Baptist Press interview that gained national attention. Boycotts and protests ensued as the chain attempted to fix its image and draw a line between Cathy’s views and that of the private company, but it when it comes to food, Chick-fil-A remains a political flashpoint.

Paxton made his opinion even more evident on Twitter, where he posted a riff on the “Come and Take It” Battle of Gonzales flag, which was used in the first fight of the Texas Revolution in 1835.

The original flag displayed a cannon, but Paxton switched that out for a cup of waffle fries:

Alternate versions of the flag have also been used by anti-gun control advocates who support semiautomatic weapons. 

Explaining the choice to quash the restaurant’s plans to open, councilman Roberto Treviño emphasized that it was about acceptance.

“Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport,” he said in a statement.