Law & the Courts

San Antonio’s Chick-fil-A Ban Has Cost the City $300,000 in Legal Fees

A franchise sign is seen above a Chick-fil-A freestanding restaurant after its grand opening in Midtown, New York October 3, 2015. (REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi)

The city of San Antonio has paid more than $300,000 in court fees — with more invoices pending — in connection with two lawsuits and one federal investigation into its March decision to ban Chick-fil-A from the San Antonio international Airport.

As of January 17, the city had spent a total of $315,880 to resist efforts to hand over records to state authorities, local ABC affiliate KENS5 reported last week.

The city council passed a motion ten months ago to effectively ban a Chick-fil-A franchise from opening in the airport by making its exclusion a prerequisite for the renewal of the airport concession contractor’s license. The city cited concerns that Chick-fil-A’s donations to certain Christian charities would create an unwelcoming environment for LGBT travelers.

“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” Councilman Roberto Trevino said in a statement at the time. “Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport.”

The move prompted Texas attorney general Ken Paxton to announce an investigation into whether the motion violated state law, and the Texas state legislature proposed a “Save Chick-fil-A” bill that was initially blocked by the state house’s newly-formed LGBTQ caucus, but signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott in June.

Paxton also sued the city in June after deputy city attorney Edward Guzman told him San Antonio would block his request to obtain certain records based on 63 exceptions to the state’s Public Information Act.

“The city’s extreme position only highlights its fear about allowing any sunshine on the religious bigotry that animated its decision,” Paxton said in a statement.

In November, Chick-fil-A said it would stop donating to the Salvation Army, the Paul Anderson Youth Home, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which all promote traditional views on marriage.

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