IssuesState HouseState SenateBREAKING: FAA Opens Investigation into San Antonio’s Chick-fil-A Airport Controversy

The FAA Office of Civil Rights has opened an investigation into the San Antonio City Council decision to exclude Chick-fil-A from an airport contract.
May 24, 2019
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In March, the San Antonio City Council voted to exclude Chick-fil-A from an airport contract. Today, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Civil Rights opened an investigation amidst accusations of faith-based discrimination.

After the initial vote to exclude Chick-fil-A, Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “The City of San Antonio’s decision to exclude Chick-fil-A based on the religious beliefs associated with the company and its owners is the opposite of tolerance. It’s discriminatory, and not only out of step with Texas values, but inconsistent with the Constitution and Texas law.”

These statements came after a report that accused Chick-fil-A donated to three alleged “anti-LGBT” groups. The three groups cited were: The Salvation Army, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (Spurs legend David Robinson is an alumnus of the program), and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

In March, First Liberty Institute asked United States Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to investigate the San Antonio City Council’s ban amidst “anti-LGBT” accusations because of their donations to the listed Christian organizations.  

Keisha Russell, associate counsel to First Liberty Institute said, “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.”

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Russell continued, “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.”

In light of these events, both the Texas Legislature and organizations like Texas Values have pushed for legislation that prevents government entities from punishing organizations for their donations to religious or faith-based organizations.

SB 1978, authored by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), would address this exact issue if signed into law.

That bill faced outcries from LGBT advocates who alleged it would perpetuate discrimination against them.

Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood), a founding member of the House LGBTQ Caucus, said during the final floor debate, “Members, this bill will make the LGBTQ community feel less-than, feel attacked by our government. I ask members to think about who this bill would be hurting.”

Chick-fil-A released a statement in response to accusations of being “anti-LGBT” saying,

“The Foundation’s giving helps with economic mobility of young people by focusing on homelessness and poverty, education, and community revitalization, and is done with no political or social agenda. The narrative that our giving was done to support a political or non-inclusive agenda is inaccurate and misleading.”

SB 1978 passed both the House and the Senate. It currently awaits a signature from Governor Greg Abbott.

Correction: A previous version of this article attributed a quote to San Antonio City Council member Robert Trevino when it should have been attributed to Attorney General Ken Paxton. The error has been corrected.

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Tony Guajardo

Tony Guajardo

Tony Guajardo is a reporter for The Texan. He has been involved in politics since the fall of 2012 when he served as an intern for the now-retired U.S. Congressman Charlie Gonzalez (D-San Antonio). He is a native of Fort Worth, Texas and graduated from Texas A&M University.