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Chick-fil-A follies

I have three things to say about this.

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is investigating the city of San Antonio for potential First Amendment violations after the City Council voted to prevent Chick-fil-A — a franchise known for opposing same-sex marriage — from opening a location in the city’s airport.

“The Constitution’s protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-fil-A’s chicken,” Paxton, a Republican, wrote in a Thursday letter to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the rest of the council. “Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport.”

In a 6-4 vote, the council voted last week to keep the franchise from opening at the San Antonio International Airport. The decision quickly drew national headlines and condemnations from conservatives across the country.

Chick-Fil-A, a national franchise with locations throughout Texas, is known for its leaders’ staunch Christian views and close ties to groups that worked to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage. Its corporate purpose is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” It is, famously, “closed on Sundays.”

Paxton, a Christian conservative who has long billed himself as a crusader for religious liberty, has also asked U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to open an investigation into the city’s actions. Paxton said in a news release Thursday that federal regulations governing grant money that flows to the San Antonio airport prohibit discrimination.

1. If we must accept that corporations can have “religious beliefs” – I don’t, but SCOTUS has imposed it on us, so here we are – then we ought to be able to criticize those beliefs. Governments make policy decisions all the time based on who they do and don’t want to do business with (see, for example, the state of Texas picking a side in the Israel/West Bank conflict), for reasons one may or may not approve of. Often, these decisions are made in response to feedback from constituents. It’s a tool that activists have in their toolbox for holding corporations accountable for their actions. It’s messy and often contradictory, but it’s long been a part of the democratic process. I don’t think letting corporate “religious beliefs” serve as a get-out-of-consequences-free card is a good idea.

2. All that aside, isn’t the fact that Chick-fil-A closes on Sunday a factor here? Surely the city of San Antonio would like to have a full range of dining options for those who pass through its airport, as they can’t just go somewhere else if their needs aren’t being met. If the choice is between a restaurant that’s open seven days a week, and a restaurant that’s open six days a week, you’d think the former would be preferred.

3. San Antonio isn’t the only city cordially dis-inviting Chick-fil-A from its airport. However you feel about this issue, it’s not going away.

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7 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    All SA has to do to quell the controversy is point out in their pre existing vendor rules where it decrees that none of the airport restaurants can close, any day of the week.

    Of course, if there is no rule about that, SA looks bad here.

  2. C.L. says:

    SATX should tell Paxton to suck an egg. I suspect the City of SA has free reign (unlike C-Fil-A’s fowl) over who gets to run a business in an airport in their City. What if it’s not about religious liberty, but because they prefer KFC or Canes over C-Fil-A, or because their travelers won’t be able to eat C-Fil-A nuggets on Sundays ?

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    C.L.

    Remember the big dust up over awarding restaurant concessions at IAH? There should be a fair and transparent process that all the competitors had to follow. SA should be easily able to show why CFA was denied.

  4. Paul Kubosh says:

    Liberals can be biggots also. I still love San Antonio.

  5. C.L. says:

    Bottom line is, who gives a sh** about what food’s available at an airport ? I’m not at IAH or HOU or SAT for a fine dining experience. I suspect C-Fil-A wants in SAT for the brand recognition and monies to be made, nothing more…but I can’t fault them for that.

    Problem is, for them at least, folks in the 21st century want to know HOW you run your business before they agree to be your patron. They’re not sheeps sucking down RJReynold’s products.

    Times they are a changin’.

  6. Manny says:

    Remember John Peavy Jr., big money in those airport concessions. He gave up his council seat rather than give up his ice cream concession at the airport.

  7. matx says:

    The fact that Chik fil a is closed on Sundays was a factor, as Sunday is a busy travel day. I live here in SA and while I am usually travelling into the city on a Sunday, if I was travelling out of the city on a Sunday I would find it very inconvenient that a scarce concession space was given to a business that is closed on Sunday. Travelers are expected to arrive early and there is already a healthy wait for service at the concessions there.