San Antonio airport was at the forefront of a nationwide trend to ban Chick-Fil-A over its political beliefs. This almost certainly violates the chain’s first amendment rights and is impermissible for a government-owned and run airport.
While it would be permissible for an airport to have a policy that all of its food outlets must be open 7 days a week – there is limited space in the airport and they need to use it to feed passengers, especially on busy Sunday – statements made advancing Chick-Fil-A bans have clearly indicated the decision is made on the basis of animus towards the chain’s past support of charities which are inconsistent with LGBTQ equality. The former is viewpoint neutral, the latter is not. (Countering Chick-Fil-A with government-sponsored airport speech is a separate issue entirely.)
In addition to two lawsuits the FAA launched an investigation over whether Chick-Fil-A bans violate federal law. And now it’s been revealed that the San Antonio airport has already spent over $300,000 in legal fees defending its decision to keep Chick-Fil-A out of the airport.
According to the latest numbers, to day, the city has paid at least $315,000, with other invoices pending. The city faces two lawsuits and a federal investigation nearly 10 months after city council voted to exclude the popular restaurant chain from coming to the San Antonio International Airport, citing a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.
Readers may know that I’m in favor of marriage equality. However this is a pretty bizarre, and not just illegal, way to take a stand on an issue.
Deals for Chick-Fil-As in airports won’t even be with Chick-Fil-A. Chick-FIl-A won’t operate the restaurants. Airport restaurants are generally run by concessions companies like Delaware North and OTG and not the companies associated with the brands you know, although of course Chick-Fil-A would have earned licensing revenue from the deals.
Personally I think if we’re going to have controversies over chicken sandwiches we might as well get even better chicken sandwiches out of the deal. Austin’s airport has Flyrite Chicken Sandwiches.
This is “The Cowboy” which is “spicy crispy chicken sandwich topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, fresh jalapenos and hoss sauce.” And it was ordered with tater tots.
Airports can have chicken sandwiches, regardless of their politics.
(HT: Joe Brancatelli)