Lawsuit: San Antonio to Face the Music for Chick-fil-A Airport Ban

On Thursday, five Texans who frequent the San Antonio airport and wish to eat Chick-fil-A there filed a lawsuit against the City of San Antonio under S.B. 1978, a new Texas law dubbed the "Save Chick-fil-A Bill." The new law forbids government actors from discriminating against religious groups or those associated with them, and removes government legal immunity from agencies that do so. The law's passage followed the San Antonio airport's ban on Chick-fil-A, citing "a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior" and calling the fast-food chain "a symbol of hate."

"The city’s continued exclusion of Chick-fil-A is based 'wholly or partly' on Chick-fil-A’s past and present contributions, donations, and support for certain religious organizations, including the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which it provides through WinShape, its charitable foundation," the lawsuit explains, citing the new law directly.

In the suit, the plaintiffs ask the court: to declare that San Antonio violated the law and continues to do so; to issue an injunction to prevent the city and the company Paradies Lagardère from excluding Chick-fil-A from the airport; to issue another injunction compelling the city to install a Chick-fil-A in the airport; to issue a third injunction preventing the city from "taking any adverse action against Chick-fil-A or any other person or entity, which is based wholly or partly on that person or entity's support for religious organizations that oppose homosexual behavior;" and to order the city to pay attorneys' fees and other appropriate relief.

"If you thought we were bluffing, now you know we’re not," Jonathan Saenz, Esq., president of the Texas Values Coalition, said in a statement on the lawsuit. "This is just one of many lawsuits that we expect to be filed against the San Antonio City Council for their illegal ban of Chick-fil-A. The continued religious ban on Chick-fil-A by the San Antonio City Council has by left citizens with no choice but to take this case to court.  Any other vendor that tries to replace Chick-fil-A at the airport will be doing so under a major cloud of long and costly litigation with the city."

The lawsuit presents the entire story of liberal outrage at Chick-fil-A. In 2010, the restaurant company gave over $8 million to the WinShape Foundation, a charitable organization run by the family of late Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy. WinShape donated some of that money to Bible-believing Christian organizations such as the Family Research Council (FRC), Exodus International, Alliance Defense Fund (now Alliance Defending Freedom), the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and more.

In 2011, Equality Matters published a report about these donations. Liberal outlets seized on it. In 2012, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy said, "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.' I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about."

After this, liberal mayors of Boston and San Francisco said that their cities had no room for Chick-fil-A. Chicago alderman Joe Moreno said he would block Chick-fil-A from entering that city, and then-mayor Rahm Emanuel supported him, saying, "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values." WinShape caved, dropping its support for FRC, Focus on the Family, Exodus International, and others.

Yet liberals continued to demonize Chick-fil-A over WinShape's donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army. These organizations hold to Christian teaching on sexuality, but activists acted as though any organization holding to the Bible on LGBT issues must be alienated and blacklisted.

This lawsuit is welcome news, and it should encourage WinShape to reconsider its decision not to fund more controversial Christian organizations. FRC and Alliance Defending Freedom are wrongly accused of being "hate groups" by the corrupt Southern Poverty Law Center. WinShape should take a stand by choosing to support them once again.

Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.