Texas AG: Chick-fil-A to be offered lease in San Antonio airport following investigation

Decision 'allows other restaurants and other business owners to continue to have their own personal religious views,' Ken Paxton says

Chick-fil-A is being offered a lease at the San Antonio International airport after the city decided to ban the chicken-centric chain from opening there last year, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday, adding that the decision sets a precedent for other cities.

In March 2019, city council officials rejected the restaurant’s bid to open a new location in San Antonio International Airport due to the company’s alleged “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”

Paxton explained that in 2019 “the San Antonio City Council decided to exclude Chick-fil-A, a very well-performing restaurant, one of the top-performing restaurants in the country, from their airport based on their support of organizations like the Salvation Army so we started our investigation.”

He said that his office asked “the Department of Transportation to investigate and the result was they came back recently with a letter to us ... telling us … that now San Antonio was offering a lease to Chick-fil-A.”

Paxton said the decision is “so important” because if “this was allowed to occur” in San Antonio, “then this could happen all over the country, City councils or other governmental entities could just decide they didn't like your personal views on whatever related to your religious faith and stop you from having a business.”

“That is a violation of our First Amendment rights,” he continued.

He added that “if we stop it now, it allows other restaurants and other business owners to continue to have their own personal religious views and not be affected by government telling them that they can't do something.”

In March 2019, six members of the San Antonio City Council rejected the inclusion of Chick-fil-A from the new Food, Beverage and Retail Prime Concession Agreement for the local airport due to 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, as per News 4 San Antonio.

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"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."

"Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport," he continued.

The decision came after 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.

Responding to the news, a rep for Chick-fil-A offered said in part, “We agree with him [Treviño] that everyone is and should feel welcome at Chick-fil-A.” “We have a fundamental code of conduct at Chick-fil-A: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” the spokesperson continued, adding that “It’s unfortunate that mischaracterizations of our brand have led to decisions like this.”

Paxton explained that “there’s the broad view that the Constitution under the First Amendment allows people free exercise of their religious faith and that means business owners as well.”

He added that “also under federal law and under the transportation guidelines, you can't discriminate based on religious views as well and so that’s why we were asking the Department of Transportation to look at this because they control funding for airports and obviously they regulate those airports.”

“And so we asked them to review that and asked them to consider whether there was a violation of First Amendment rights and the Constitution and guidelines of the Transportation Department and they found there clearly were and fortunately the city has agreed to backtrack and give Chick-fil-A a lease opportunity,” Paxton continued.

In a statement sent to Fox News a spokesperson with The Federal Aviation Administration said, “The FAA has reached an informal resolution of its investigation into complaints alleging discrimination against a prospective concessionaire at San Antonio International Airport.”

“Under the terms of the resolution, the City of San Antonio will ensure that a lease opportunity is offered to the concessionaire for space inside Terminal A at reasonable and customary terms,” the spokesperson continued. “The FAA will continue to monitor the matter.”

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The City of San Antonio did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Fox News’ Janine Puhak and The Associated Press contributed to this report.