By ACACIA CORONADO Report for America/Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Chick-fil-A said Monday that it no longer plans to open a restaurant in the San Antonio airport, even though the Texas city relented after more than a year of legal wrangling that began when some city leaders opposed the fast-food chain getting a spot, citing donations made by company owners to anti-LGBTQ causes.
“We are always evaluating potential new locations in the hopes of serving existing and new customers great food with remarkable service.” Chick-fil-A said in a statement. “While we are not pursuing a location in the San Antonio airport at this time, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve San Antonians in our 32 existing restaurants.”
Some San Antonio City Council members blocked the chain from opening a restaurant at the San Antonio International Airport, saying they objected because Chick-fil-A’s owners have donated to anti-LGBTQ causes for years.
In May last year, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to look into whether the city had broken federal law or transportation department regulations. He said the fast-food chain’s exclusion from the airport amounted to discrimination “due to the expression of the owner’s religious beliefs.” The complaint prompted an FAA investigation that ended July 24 with an informal resolution for San Antonio to allow Chick-fil-A to seek a lease in the city-owned airport.
Some Texas leaders broadly supported the company. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill in 2019 in defense of Chick-fil-A and religious freedom. And on Monday, Paxton, also a Republican, heralded the agreement between San Antonio and Chick-fil-A.
“This is a win for religious liberty in Texas and I strongly commend the FAA and the City of San Antonio for reaching this resolution,” Paxton said in a statement. “To exclude a respected vendor based on religious beliefs is the opposite of tolerance and is inconsistent with the Constitution, Texas law, and Texas values.”
The FAA did not immediately returns calls seeking comment.
“The city itself offered to resolve the FAA investigation informally following Chick-fil-A’s publicly stated change-of-position on its charitable giving policy,” a city spokesman told San Antonio TV station KSAT. “The city maintains that at no point did it discriminate against Chick-fil-A.”
Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A has faced opposition elsewhere over its donations worth millions of dollars to groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
Acacia Coronado is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.