The San Antonio City Council re-affirmed its controversial decision to exclude Chick-fil-A from a concession contract with the city’s International Airport on Thursday.
The council voted to not bring up the issue again, meaning that the restaurant remains banned.
The Atlanta-based fast-food chain has faced opposition elsewhere over donating millions over the years to groups that oppose same-sex marriage. In 2012, the company’s chief operating officer criticized same-sex marriage, prompting some politicians to block the chain from expanding in certain areas.
Council Members Robert Treviño and Manny Peláez have said that Chick-fil-A has a history of funding anti-LGBTQ organizations that support and advocate for gay conversion therapy. During a meeting held in March, Peláez said that approving the restaurant would “help them fund those efforts by making money off of our airport.”
Mayor Ron Nirenberg opened this week’s meeting with the assurance that no business that follows the law will be turned away from the city, a reference to the decision to ban the restaurant chain from the airport.
Councilman Greg Brockhouse proposed a new vote to reconsider the ban. He asked council members who would be banned next.
Number one issue
Councilman Clayton Perry voiced support for the motion because “it is the number one issue” among his District 10 constituents, based on his conversations with them.
Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales said there were more important issues to address, including housing and crime.
Staff told council talks are underway with a new occupant.
Several Brockhouse supporters were in the audience, including John Hagee, the Cornerstone Church pastor.
Ed Newton, pastor of the 20,000-member Community Bible Church, said he was disappointed in the council’s vote. He hoped the council would have thought that “any individual, any organization, any company would not be vilified based on their particular belief.”
Beth Guinn, whodescribed herself as a member of the LGBT community, said of the vote: “I see this as a violation of Title VII. I feel Chick-fil-A was discriminated against based on their faith-based belief.”
Republican Texas Senator Donna Campbell mingled with pastors, conservative business leaders, and others outside city council chambers after the vote.
Campbell said “it’s not hard to get a group together when it’s obvious a wrong decision was made.” “You have to ask yourself whose beliefs are next,” the state senator said, “your beliefs are next. Don’t think it stops here.”
Texas Attorney General is investigating
Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton informed Mayor Nirenberg and the City Council that his office will investigate their decision to ban Chick-fil-A.
Paxton has also 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.