Weeks after formally blocking Chick-fil-A from opening up shop in San Antonio International Airport over the company’s alleged “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” the San Antonio City Council narrowly struck down a motion to reconsider the controversial decision with a 6-5 vote.
"Make no mistake, this was never about a chicken sandwich,” Councilman Greg Brockhouse said of the news in a press release. “It was about respecting everyone in our community, honoring faith and being all-inclusive.”
Brockhouse is running for mayor, and requested a revote to reexamine the issue, USA Today reports. Though his bid failed in an April 18 meeting, the politician now argues that the Chick-fil-A ban symbolizes a rejection of “religious freedom” as he worries about the consequences of the decision in a larger sense.
“When this Council kicked Chick-fil-A out of the Airport we sent a message to our City, the State and the Nation that we do not respect religious freedom. It has hurt our reputation and sent a message that does not reflect San Antonio and its families,” Brockhouse stated. “We had a chance to fix that today and follow the will of our City, who have spoken clearly that the removal of Chick-fil-A was a mistake. This Council again rejected religious freedom and voted against people of faith.”
“We failed our City today and it will hurt our community reputation as people and businesses will now have to consider who is next when it comes to singling out people of faith,” he continued.
When contacted for comment, an official with Chick-fil-A Inc. offered Fox News’ the following statement on the story on April 19:
"We’ll leave politics for others to debate. Chick-fil-A remains committed to serving great food with remarkable service in our restaurants that are welcoming to all," the official said.
The Chick-fil-A debate has become a wedge issue between Brockhouse and Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who is running for reelection. One council member recognized the electoral nature of the vote on the dais Thursday.
“It smacks of politics,” Councilman Manny Pelaez said of Brockhouse’s efforts. “Anybody in this room would be naive to believe this has nothing to do with mayoral politics.”
Brockhouse denied that assertion.
Just the day before, conservative Christian group Texas Values united for a “Save Chick-fil-A Day” protest at the Texas state Capitol building in Austin on Wednesday, urging lawmakers to support two bills that would prohibit the government from penalizing business owners on grounds of religious faith. The group organized the event in response to the March 21 San Antonio City Council vote.
The Texas attorney general has since opened an investigation regarding whether the city of San Antonio “violated Chick-fil-A’s religious liberty” in making that decision.
On March 21, six members of the city council rejected the inclusion of the chicken chain from the new Food, Beverage and Retail Prime Concession Agreement for the airport, KTSA reported, over concerns regarding the company’s alleged “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”
“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion," Councilman Roberto Treviño said of the vote at the time, as per News 4 San Antonio. "San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior."
Earlier that week, Think Progress published tax documents revealing that in 2017, the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave over $1.8 million in charitable donations to some organizations that have come under scrutiny regarding their stance on LGBTQ issues.
Over $1.65 million of that contribution was given to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which writes in an online “Statement of Faith” that it believes “marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman,” and believes “sexual intimacy” should only be expressed “within [that] context,” CBS News reports.
On a national level, Chick-fil-A was also banned from opening up shop in Buffalo Niagara International Airport and at Rider University over similar concerns regarding the company’s alleged “anti-LGBTQ rhetoric."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.