City Council's vote to exclude Chick-Fil-A at San Antonio's airport draws applause, criticism

LGBTQ community excited about decision; faith-based nonprofit isn't

SAN ANTONIO – Chick-Fil-A, the popular faith-based chicken chain with a long history of donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations, won’t be added to the list of restaurants at San Antonio International Airport.

A 6-4 City Council vote Thursday finalized the decision and was applauded by the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, a local LGBTQ political action committee.

“The LGBTQ community is excited that the City Council has decided to look for restaurants that support all Americans in our airport,” said Chris Forbrich, a co-chair of the organization.

On Friday, District 1 Councilman Roberto Trevino, who made the motion to exclude Chick-Fil-A from a food and beverage package deal at the airport, released the following statement:

“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. 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. I look forward to the announcement of a suitable replacement by Paradies.”

Paradies Lagardère operates stores and restaurants in airports, hotels and other locations in  the U.S. and Canada. 

People KSAT spoke to Friday on Main Avenue, in the heart of San Antonio’s LGBTQ community, said the decision shows support for equality in the city, and it also makes them proud to be part of San Antonio.

“It tells me and it shows me that San Antonio is very supportive of the community. It actually makes me very proud to hear that it was 6-4. I’m real thankful for that,” said Nina Lockwood, who supports the City Council vote.

Texas Values, a nonprofit organization that said it’s dedicated to standing for faith, family and freedom, took a different stance, releasing the following statement:

"In the wake of the City of San Antonio banning Chick-fil-A from their airport based upon their religious beliefs and private donations made to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Texas Values and Texas Values Action are once again calling on the legislature to act to protect religious freedom and ensure all Texans are Free To Believe.

"Despite Councilman Trevino saying 'Everyone has a place here, and everyone should be welcome…' Chick-fil-A, Christians, and other businesses who believe in Biblical marriage and biological sex are being persecuted by the city. In this case, it appears business owners can even be punished for donations they make to nonprofits which have nothing to do with how the company conducts its business.

“Local governments targeting and banning private Christian businesses like Chick-Fil-A is a hostility to religion that Texans will not stand for. I thought Texas was ‘open for business.’ I guess that applies everywhere in Texas except for San Antonio, where the government demands that you renounce your religious beliefs.

"This outrageous development only further underscores the need for the legislature to act and stop these out of control city regulations. Texans should be Free to Believe, and free to eat Chick-fil-A. We ask all members of the legislature to co-author HB 1035 and protect business like Chick-fil-A from government punishment.

"HB 1035 The Free To Believe Act by Rep. Bill Zedler, ensures the government cannot punish individual Texans, religious groups, businesses, counselors, medical providers, wedding vendors, or state employees for their sincerely held religious beliefs on marriage and human sexuality. Believing the Bible and living out your faith should never get you fined, jailed, or in any other way punished."

Chick-Fil-A released the following statement:

“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.”

About the Authors:

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.