San Antonio’s legal fight to keep Chick-fil-A out of its airport has cost the city more than $300,000, according to a new report.
The city’s legal fees in a pair of lawsuits and state and federal investigations have totaled $315,000, and that number is still rising, according to KENS-TV in San Antonio.
San Antonio’s city council voted last year to exclude Chick-fil-A from the San Antonio International Airport, in part due to the company’s donations to the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Council members claimed the restaurant has a history of “anti-LGBT discrimination.”
Chick-fil-A is the third largest restaurant in the United States by sales.
Although the company changed its giving strategy last year, the city still opposes the company opening a restaurant in the airport.
This month, a judge ruled against the city and allowed a lawsuit against it to proceed. The suit by the San Antonio Family Association accuses the city of discrimination against Chick-fil-A for its owners’ Christian beliefs. It also says the city violated the state’s new “Save Chick-fil-A” law.
That law, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, prohibits a “governmental entity” from taking “any adverse action against any person based wholly or partly on the person’s membership in, affiliation with, or contribution, donation, or other support provided to a religious organization.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton last year opened an investigation into San Antonio’s decision to block Chick-fil-A, as did the Federal Aviation Administration.
“The FAA notes that federal requirements prohibit airport operators from excluding persons on the basis of religious creed from participating in airport activities that receive or benefit from FAA grant funding,” the FAA said in a statement.
The FAA also is investigating the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, where a Chick-fil-A was blocked from opening.
Chick-fil-A’s official 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.” Its stores are closed on Sundays.
The restaurant changed its philanthropic strategy beginning this year and no longer donates to the Salvation Army and FCA. Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy subsequently said in a letter that he regretted that the company “inadvertently discredited” what he calls “outstanding organizations” in the Salvation Army and the FCA.
“These changes were made to better focus on hunger, homelessness and education,” he wrote. “We understand how some thought we were abandoning our long-standing support of faith-based organizations. We inadvertently discredited several outstanding organizations that have effectively served communities for years. Some also questioned if our commitment to our Corporate Purpose was waning. Let me state unequivocally: It is not.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Tom Pennington/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.