Fast food chain Chick-fil-A has no plans to open a restaurant at the San Antonio International Airport despite being given the opportunity after city officials reached a deal with federal authorities on Monday.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Monday that the chain would be offered a lease at the airport, more than a year after San Antonio officials thwarted the company’s plans due a history of donating to anti-LGBTQ causes. Despite the decision, Chick-fil-A said it no longer has any interest in opening a restaurant at the airport.
“We are always evaluating potential new locations in the hopes of serving existing and new customers great food with remarkable service.” Chick-fil-A said in a statement. “While we are not pursuing a location in the San Antonio airport at this time, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve San Antonians in our 32 existing restaurants.”
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In March 2019, Paxton cited religious freedom concerns in urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to launch an investigation into the San Antonio City Council blocking the restaurant’s plans to open at the airport.
Two months later, the FAA announced they would investigate the decision, along with a similar one at New York’s Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Although the chicken sandwich chain no longer wished to pursue the opportunity, Paxton hailed Monday’s announcement as a victory for religious freedom.
“This is a win for religious liberty in Texas and I strongly commend the FAA and the City of San Antonio for reaching this resolution,” Paxton said in a statement. “To exclude a respected vendor based on religious beliefs is the opposite of tolerance and is inconsistent with the Constitution, Texas law, and Texas values.”
Chick-fil-A has been the center of controversy for most of the last decade due to anti-LGBTQ views held by its conservative Christian owners. Boycotts of the company began after CEO Dan Cathy claimed in 2012 that same sex marriage would invite “God’s judgement on our nation.”
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While pro-LGBTQ activists offered harsh criticism for the company giving millions in donations to anti-LGBTQ causes, many conservatives praised the company and defended its controversial views on the basis of religious freedom. The company insisted that it had no political agenda, while continuing donations.
In November 2019, the company shifted its donation policy to focus on causes benefitting homelessness, hunger and education. Groups that have been denounced some as anti-LGBTQ lost their funding as part of the change, including the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Among the new recipients was a pro-LGBTQ group, Covenant House, which benefits homeless and runaway youth.
Christian conservatives, many of whom had vociferously defended Chick-fil-A from criticism for donating to anti-LGBTQ causes, reacted to the new donation policy with outrage. Regardless, the company continued to report record profits through the end of the year.
Newsweek reached out to Chick-fil-A for comment.