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Texas legislature votes to “save Chick-fil-A” from perceived religious discrimination

Texas legislature votes to “save Chick-fil-A” from perceived religious discrimination
[Photo: Flickr user Mark Turnauckas]

Frantic over fried chicken, the Texas House of Representatives voted this week to “save” fast-food establishment Chick-fil-A two months after San Antonio City Council elected to ban the branch in its city’s airport over the company’s stances on LGBTQ rights.

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Eating at Chick fil-A has evolved into a sticky predicament for many fowl fans. Diners rave about the sandwiches and signature waffle fries, but concerns have amassed over the years about the company’s attitudes toward the LGBTQ community. The controversy began in 2012, when the chain’s CEO, Dan Cathy, made statements in opposition to gay marriage. The company continued to cause a stir by donating to groups considered anti-gay, such as a Christian residential home that reportedly said same-sex marriage was “rage against Jesus Christ and His values.”

Texas Senate Bill 1978, known informally as the “Save Chick-fil-A Bill,” would prevent the government from punishing individuals or businesses based on their “membership in, affiliation with, or contribution … to a religious organization.” While proponents view it as a gallant protector of religious liberty, opponents and LGBTQ groups have condemned it as discriminatory.

“[The bill] perpetuates the rhetoric that leads to discrimination, to hate and ultimately bullying that leads to the consequence of people dying,” said Democratic Representative Mary Gonzalez, chair of the LGBTQ Caucus, according to the Texas Tribune.

“It sends the message that Texas is not open and welcoming to all,” added Representative Julie Johnson, a Dallas Democrat.

The bill is named for the Georgia-based chicken joint due to the original inclusion of a provision to allow the attorney general to sue San Antonio for its decision—even though that clause was removed when the House diluted the bill in recent weeks after it initially failed to pass. But it has the potential to have real and symbolic effects on people and businesses across the state of Texas.

Reached for comment, a Chick-fil-A spokesperson sent the following statement:

“Chick-fil-A was not involved with, nor did we organize any events related to, this bill in any way. We are a restaurant company focused on food and hospitality for all, and we have no social or political stance. We are grateful for all our customers and are glad to serve them at any time. We welcome and embrace all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The bill passed in the Republican-controlled House yesterday, 79-62. If the Senate approves the amended version, it will then head to the governor’s desk.

And if there was any doubt as to whether Greg Abbott will sign the bill, the governor tweeted yesterday: “So. What are the odds I’ll sign the Chick-fil-A bill? I’ll let you know after dinner.”

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