San Antonio not ‘ordered’ to bring Chick-fil-A to airport, despite Paxton’s claims, city says

Investigation was launched last year after city’s vote to exclude faith-based chicken chain from concession package

SAN ANTONIO – Reports claiming that the City of San Antonio was ordered to offer a lease to the popular fast-food restaurant Chick-Fil-A at the San Antonio Airport are inaccurate, city leaders say.

Instead, city leaders have agreed to an “informal resolution” to the Federal Aviation Administration’s investigation launched in March of 2019 into whether San Antonio leaders discriminated against the fast-food chain by excluding them from an airport concession package. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a complaint saying the restaurant was excluded because of the company’s religious stance on LGBTQ issues and a history of donating to charitable organizations that also support anti-LGBTQ beliefs.

District One Councilman Roberto Trevino, who made the motion for the vote, later commented that 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.”

On Sunday, during an interview on FOX News, Paxton said that Chick-Fil-A will now be offered a lease in the San Antonio Airport based on the investigation’s findings that First Amendment rights, which guarantee freedom of religion, the constitution, and the transportation department’s guidelines, were violated.

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On Sunday, the city responded to KSAT with the following statement:

"The FAA has not ordered the City of San Antonio to have Chick-Fil-A at its airport. The City itself offered to resolve the FAA investigation informally following Chick-Fil-A’s publicly stated change-of-position on its charitable giving policy. The City maintains that at no point did it discriminate against Chick-Fil-A. Any placement of Chick-Fil-A at the San Antonio Airport is ultimately contingent on Chick-Fil-A’s continued interest and approval by the City Council.

Attorney General Paxton’s inaccurate statements on this issue are not surprising given that neither he nor the State of Texas have been involved in the conversations between the City and the FAA. Unfortunately, and ironically, AG Paxton’s false declaration of victory significantly jeopardizes the potential for a mutually beneficial and amicable resolution."

A letter from the FAA Office of Civil Rights to Paxton on Sept. 10, said an “informal resolution” was reached between the city of San Antonio and the FAA during the investigation into Paxton’s complaint that alleged the city discriminated against Chick-fil-A.

The letter stated that city leaders "agreed to take the following steps to address the allegations':

  • Within 45 days of this letter, CFA will be offered a lease opportunity for space in SAT Terminal A.
  • The terms of the new offer will be reasonable and consistent with customary business practices.

The FAA’s letter indicated that the FAA would monitor the city’s implementation of the steps, and if they are not completed in a timely, reasonable, and fair manner, the investigation would be reopened, “which may result in the finding of a violation of relevant nondiscrimination authorities.”

In a zoom interview on Monday with KSAT, City Attorney Andrew Segovia said Paxton’s announcement is an attempt to further his own political agenda.

“Seems to me a purposeful mischaracterization of what is actually happening,” Segovia said. “(Paxton is) essentially trying to take a victory lap while there is a yellow caution flag out.”

As opposed to being ordered to offer Chick-Fil-A a contract, Segovia says the city reached an informal resolution with the FAA after learning the restaurant chain would redirect some of its charitable donations from organizations that take an anti-LGBTQ stance.

“They’re focusing on education and not so much on policies as they relate to the LGBTQ community,” Segovia said.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg is hoping to move forward in a different way. On Monday, he released the following statement:

“Let’s put this behind us. It was one of an endless series of vendor contracts that come before city council. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and a recession. San Antonio has bigger issues on its agenda.”

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