The governor of Texas has signed into law a bill that is aimed at preventing cities from discriminating against the popular Chick-fil-A restaurant chain because of claims over the owner’s faith.
Gov. Greg Abbot this week signed the legislation that sponsors explain upholds religious freedom.
The legislature fast-tracked the plan after the San Antonio city council targeted the chain, specifically excluding it from a proposed airport concessions plan, because of council perceptions about the chain owner’s faith.
That action now has prompted multiple investigations by the state and federal governments, including one by Washington officials into whether the council violated federal requirements by discriminating based on religion in its contracting.
Potentially, the council members could have cost their airport the right to access federal grants for airport facilities.
The Daily Mail reported council members boasted that by targeting and excluding a company based on religious beliefs, they were “taking a stand over the fast-food company’s values.”
The new state law specifically prohibits cities from taking “adverse action” against businesses based on their contributions to religious groups.
Abbott had described the San Antonio action earlier as having “the stench of religious discrimination.”
Paxton said the information and comments about the vote will shed light “on the religious bigotry that animated” the decision.
Chick-fil-A has been a target of LGBT hate since its owner advocated for traditional marriage. The company’s critics were further infuriated when they discovered its contributions go to conservative charities.
But federal law, according to the FAA, prohibits “airport operators from excluding persons on the basis of religious creed from participating in airport activities that receive or benefit from FAA grant funding.”
Publicly funded universities also have banned Chick-fil-A. At Cal Poly, however, administrators kept a franchise on campus despite a vote of the Academic Senate. The administrators reasoned that to remove the fast food chain from campus “would be its own form of censorship and intolerance.”
In San Antonio, city council members voted 6-4 for the ban claiming they were protecting the city’s “reputation for inclusion and equality.”
City officials in San Antonio are trying to keep their records of the vote secret.
“The city of San Antonio claims that it can hide documents because it anticipates being sued,” Paxton said in a statement on Monday, CNN reported. “But we’ve simply opened an investigation using the Public Information Act. If a mere investigation is enough to excuse the city of San Antonio from its obligation to be transparent with the people of Texas, then the Public Information Act is a dead letter. The city’s extreme position only highlights its fear about allowing any sunshine on the religious bigotry that animated its decision.”
In 2012, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy drew the ire of LGBT activists when he said that God has defined marriage.
“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than You as to what constitutes a marriage,'” Cathy said.
Keisha Russell, associate counsel with First Liberty, which has been raising concerns about the airport’s discrimination, told Fox News earlier, “We are pleased that the FAA responded to our request by opening an investigation into San Antonio for its blatant, illegal religious discrimination against Chick-fil-A.
“First Liberty also launched our own investigation into the city’s actions and we vow to get to the bottom of San Antonio’s decision. American business owners should not have to suffer because they want to operate their businesses in accordance with their religious beliefs. Few things are more un-American than government hostility against religion.”
Chick-fil-A said in a statement it is in the business of serving food and hospitality to all.