Colorado’s hostility to the Christian faith of Jack Phillips for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple has been condemned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now it appears the city of San Antonio could end up with a similar reputation, over a chicken sandwich.
A formal investigation is being launched into the city council’s removal of Chick-fil-A from an operating agreement at the San Antonio International Airport.
First Liberty Institute previously asked Elaine Chao, the U.S. secretary of transportation, to investigate whether the city’s rejection of the restaurant chain violated federal nondiscrimination law and would impact any grants.
Now the non-profit legal group is conducting its own investigation.
The city refused to allow Chick-fil-A to operate at the airport because the company has donated to such organizations as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Paul Anderson Youth Home and the Salvation Army.
“The city’s decision to ban Chick-fil-A was blatant, illegal religious discrimination,” said Hiram Sasser, general counsel to First Liberty Institute. “We want to know just how deep the religious animosity runs within San Antonio’s city government. A tolerant and inclusive city should have nothing to hide.”
First Liberty has written a letter to the city demanding access to staff reports, comments and assessments related to the proposed concession agreement between the city and Paradies Lagardere, which operates stores in airports, hotels and other locations throughout the United States and Canada.
The company’s proposal had included Chick-fil-A, but council members demanded the chain be barred from the airport.
First Liberty’s letter also seeks communications, notes or other documents produced by council members or any employee or staff member relating to the contract or to Chick-fil-A.
Last month, Councilman Roberto Treviño made the motion to approve the Food, Beverage, and Retail Prime Concession Agreement with Paradies Lagardère for the airport on condition Chick-fil-A be excluded from the agreement. He claimed Chick-fil-A has a “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior” and that such a business has no place in the city’s airport.
First Liberty’s letter says disclosure of the information about the city’s bias against Chick-fil-A is “in the public interest of ensuring that government entities respect the religious liberty of all Americans and abide by all relevant nondiscrimination laws.”
The chain long has been targeted by homosexual activists for its owners’ support of traditional marriage. Despite the attacks, the chain has exploded in growth and popularity in recent years.
The San Antonio City Council’s snub of Chick-fil-A previously brought an apology from a council member and an inquiry by the local member of Congress.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dan Loesch were among the critics of the council’s decision.
It was council member Greg Brockhouse who apologized to Chick-fil-A, expressing how much he and other city residents value the company.
Loesch tweeted: “Because [Chick-fil-A executive] Dan Cathy loves Jesus his chicken sandwiches might be infected with the Holy Ghost and make airport people feel uncomfortable.”
The San Antonio Current reported Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, sent a letter to the council asking for an explanation.
Trevino said the company’s religious views were at fault.
“San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we don’t have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” he said.
Roy responded: “Targeting individuals, organizations, or corporations for carrying out their deeply-held religious beliefs in accord with our laws and consistent with many Americans’ similarly held religious beliefs is hardly making San Antonio a ‘champion of equality and inclusion.'”
The legal team said: “The San Antonio city council may spend its taxpayer dollars as its citizens will tolerate. However, it cannot do so in a way that brazenly violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and federal law.”