The San Antonio International Airport's Ban On Chick-Fil-A Just Got More Complicated

The City Council of San Antonio, Texas, will no longer ban Chick-fil-A from San Antonio International Airport. The city's earlier decision to ban the chain, which is owned by devout Baptists, has been a huge controversy in Texas. It's no surprise, then, that the two sides in the dispute don't agree on what happened to make the ban go away (via KSAT).

The council had voted for the ban back in March 2019. At the time, council member Roberto Treviño said the council made the decision because Chick-fil-A donates to anti-LGBTQ organizations. "We do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior," he said. Chick-fil-A maintained that everyone is welcome at its restaurants and that its attitude toward the LGBTQ community is misrepresented by decisions like the one made by San Antonio (via Fox News).

Soon after, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation. His view was that San Antonio was discriminating against Chick-fil-A for its religious views, which would violate federal law and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. After San Antonio and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed earlier this year the ban should be lifted, Paxton went on the Fox News show Fox & Friends to discuss it. The Texas attorney general misspoke when he told the show's hosts that the FAA concluded the city had violated the law. 

It wasn't an order: San Antonio lifted Chick-fil-A ban willingly

As it turns out, the FAA didn't find that San Antonio had broken any laws. The FAA hadn't even completed a formal investigation, according to a letter it sent the Texas attorney general on Sept. 10. Rather, the city and the FAA agreed to sit down informally and see if they could reach an agreement before the agency launched its investigation. The talks worked: The city and the FAA agreed the city would offer an airport lease to Chick-fil-A, so hungry travelers could grab the chain's famous chicken sandwich on their way to their next destination. It's not clear yet whether Chick-fil-A will accept the lease offer, according to KSAT.

The city told KSAT it was willing to give Chick-fil-A a space in the airport because the fast-food chain had changed its charitable-giving policy. In November 2019, just months after being shut out of the airport, Chick-fil-A said it would not give money to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes or the Salvation Army, two organizations that oppose same-sex relationships (via San Antonio Express-News). While that was enough to satisfy the city of San Antonio, pro-gay advocacy groups weren't entirely impressed, citing Chick-fil-A's ongoing relationship with the anti-LGBTQ group Focus on the Family.