Texas Lawmakers Press Ahead with 'Save Chick-fil-A' Bill

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday May 15, 2019

Lawmakers in Texas have seized on the controversy around a city council's decision to deny fast-food chain Chick-fil-A a concession at a local airport and drafted a bill they say would protect people and corporations from facing legal blowback for religiously-motivated actions that could be deemed discriminatory, reports political news site The Hill.

As previously reported at EDGE, the restaurant chain lost out on a concession for the San Antonio airport when that city's council voted not to grant Chick-fil-A permission for a location there. The following week the company also lost a spot at a Buffalo, New York airport.

More bad news loomed when the faculty of California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo — Cal Poly for short — voted to recommend that Chick-fil-A no longer be allowed to operate on campus.

The company endured these losses after it came to light that Chick-fil-A had donated millions of dollars to several anti-LGBTQ charities, despite having insisted that it was stepping back from political matters in the wake of CEO Dan Catty's 2012 remarks in which Catty attacked the idea of marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Chick-fil-A's PR people still insist that the company is not political and simply wants to bring tasty food to its customers.

But in some states, public officials have made Chick-fil-A's lost opportunities into causes. Tim Fix, Montana's state attorney general — who is in the running for the governorship - recently posted a tweet in which he called for the company to beef up its presence in a state that currently only has one Chick-fil-A restaurant.

Texas state house members also jumped on the Chick-fil-A bandwagon with a bill to shield individuals and companies who claim to be acting out of religious conviction. The bill was not passed by the house, but the state Senate quickly picked up the ball.

"We've heard disturbing stories about folks being punished just because they choose to contribute to a religious organization that shares their views or values," Republican State Sen. Bryan Hughes told the Dallas Morning News.

Opponents saw the issue from a different perspective, however, taking issue both with the substance of the bill and the manner in which the state Senate proceeded with the bill, which included a snap vote and little public notice.

"It's appalling to hold a ghost hearing and then take a snap vote that leaves virtually no chance for anyone to tell senators how such a sweeping discrimination bill would affect individuals and families across the state," said Texas Freedom Network head Kathy Miller.

"Ramming this bill through doesn't change the fact that the majority of Texans oppose laws that allow the use of religion to hurt people simply because of who they are or whom they love," Miller added.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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