Religious liberty watchdog First Liberty Institute and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are calling for a federal investigation into discrimination against Chick-fil-A.
They're asking US Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to investigate San Antonio City Council's decision to deny the restaurant chain the chance to open a store in the city's airport as a result of the company's conservative views, specifically their owners' opposition on same-sex marriage.
According to First Liberty, during the city council's meeting, LGBTQ advocate and council member Roberto Treviño said San Antonio should not contract with Chick-fil-A because of a "legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior" and that the city should vet all future economic deals "to ensure they align with our core values as a city."
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg sided with Treviño on the issue. However, he argues his decision was based on Chick-fil-A not being open seven days a week.
"The issue is making sure we have a restaurant that's going to serve seven days a week," Nirenberg said. "Because travelers come in every day of the week and we know that 15 percent of volume in the airport happens on a Sunday."
"Federal taxpayers should not be required to subsidize religious bigotry," wrote Hiram Sasser, general counsel for First Liberty. "The city council cannot operate in a way that brazenly violates the Constitution and federal law, but if it chooses to, then the federal government should pull its grant."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to the council condemning their actions.
"The Constitution's protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-fil-A's chicken," Paxton, a Republican, wrote. "Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport."
Paxton, a self-proclaimed Christian defender of religious freedom, stated that federal regulations surrounding grant money to the San Antonio airport prohibit discrimination.
"The City of San Antonio's decision to exclude Chick-fil-A based on the religious beliefs associated with the company and its owners is the opposite of tolerance," tweeted Paxton. "It's discriminatory, and not only out of step with Texas values, but inconsistent with the Constitution and Texas law."
The City of San Antonio's decision to exclude Chick-fil-A based on the religious beliefs associated with the company and its owners is the opposite of tolerance. It's discriminatory, and not only out of step with Texas values, but inconsistent with the Constitution and Texas law. pic.twitter.com/iOk7G9Eltv
— Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) March 28, 2019
San Antonio City Councilmember Greg Brockhouse, who voted in support of Chick-fil-A, sent an apology letter to the company.
"The recent actions of our City Council do not reflect the overwhelming belief in our city that you are a valued business and community partner," wrote Brockhouse. "In spite of the appearance of this decision, San Antonio is a welcoming city that values diversity, faith, and inclusivity."
"On behalf of hundreds of thousands of San Antonio residents, please accept our sincerest apologies for this decision," he continued. "We will do better in the future!"