On Tuesday, the Texas House passed SB 1978, the so-called "Save Chick-fil-A" bill, engendering blowback from Democrats and LGBTQ activists. The bill passed 79-64 after passing the Texas Senate 19-12 last week. It now heads for the desk of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has left little doubt he will sign the bill into law.
On Monday, as CNN reported, Democratic Rep. Julie Johnson, a member of the Texas House's LGBTQ caucus, opined that the bill was discriminatory, saying, "While I'm sure the intent of this bill is to protect individual freedoms, in reality it would provide a segue for individuals looking to circumvent the rules of the law in the name of religion. Private businesses could legally refuse service to families like mine based on the owners' religious belief."
Rep. Jessica Gonzalez, also a member of the LGBTQ caucus, spoke of the death of Muhlaysia Booker, a Dallas transgender woman who was shot and killed in East Dallas over the weekend, saying, “Her death occurred hours before 78 members of the Texas House of Representatives voted in favor of Senate Bill 1978, a bill that codifies discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. Ms. Booker’s death is a tragic reminder that bills like SB 1978 foment hatred and endanger the lives of all minority Texans. As the vice chair of the House LGBTQ caucus, I will continue to fight against any legislation that attacks Texans for who they love or how they identify."
The women were countered by Republican state Rep. Matt Krause, the author of the House bill, who stated there's "no discriminatory intent in (the bill) at all," adding, "We want to make sure that if you give to the Salvation Army, you're not labeled bigoted or discriminatory."
The bill states, “Notwithstanding any other law, a governmental entity may not take 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.”
In March, the San Antonio City Council in March excluded Chick-fil-A from a terminal for the San Antonio International Airport. As The Daily Wire reported, “In a 6-4 vote, with one abstention, the San Antonio City Council voted March 21 to deny the chicken restaurant a spot in the terminal’s 10,000 square feet of available space, according to a report from Out In SA, the sister publication of the San Antonio Current.” Roberto C. Trevino, San Antonio’s district 1 city councilman, told Out In SA reporter Sam Sanchez that he was responsible for the decision to keep Chick-Fil-A from the airport.
Chick-fil-A told Out in SA, “This is the first we’ve heard of this. It’s disappointing. We would have liked to have had a dialogue with the city council before this decision was made. We agree with Councilmember Treviño that everyone is and should feel welcome at Chick-fil-A. We plan to reach out to the city council to gain a better understanding of this decision.”
At the end of March, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg and members of the city council announcing that he was opening an investigation into San Antonio’s decision to exclude Chick-fil-A from opening concession facilities in an airport terminal. Paxton wrote:
The Constitution’s protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-fil- A’s chicken. Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport. Please see the enclosed letter from my office to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao highlighting my concerns that the City’s recent action to remove Chick-fil-A from the City’s new airport concessionaire contract may violate federal law and applicable federal regulations. You should also note that I have directed my office to open an investigation into whether the City’s action violates state law. I trust the City will fully cooperate with my investigation into this matter, and will abide by relevant federal and state laws in the future.