Chick-fil-A finally abandons airport location after year-long political firestorm over anti-LGBT+ donations

American fast food restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A has scrapped plans to open a location at San Antonio airport in Texas after a political firestorm over the chain’s known donations to anti-LGBT+ groups.

The fast food restaurant faced more than a year of legal wrangling to gain permission to open in San Antonio International Airport, with several city council members blocking the plans.

Chick-fil-A finally got the green light in July after the city spent more than $300,000 to prevent it opening – only for the chain to pull out, presumably having decided that the location wasn’t worth it.

“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 issued Monday, 14 September, the Associated Press reported.

“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.”

Opposition to the San Antonio branch began in March 2019 when the city council approved a new agreement for airport concessions that excluded Chick-fil-A.

“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-LGBT+ behaviour,” city councilman Roberto Treviño said at the time.

The resulting uproar led the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, to sign a bill banning discrimination against businesses with anti-LGBT+ views.

Abbott staged a public signing ceremony for the so-called ‘Save Chick-fil-A’ bill, which bars the government entities from taking “any adverse action” that is based “wholly or partly on a person’s belief or action in accordance with the person’s sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction, including beliefs or convictions regarding marriage”.

The law means that LGBT+ Texans now have fewer discrimination protections than Texans with homophobic views.


PETA and LGBT community protest at Chick-fil-A on August 1, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic)

Chick-fil-A has a long history of opposing LGBT+ rights.

Baptist-owned Chick-fil-A has given millions of dollars to anti-gay groups, leading to protests, boycotts, and several new branches being banned from opening.

Last year officials confirmed that they would stop donating to these causes and instead focus on education, homelessness and hunger. However the company quietly went back on this promise after meeting strong resistance from anti-LGBT+ conservatives and Republicans.

A statement on the Chick-fil-A website said the franchise was “happy and proud” of its 2018 donations, which include several Christian organisations that discriminate against LGBT+ people. And new tax documents from 2018 reveal more donations than previously thought.

Two donations of $825,000 went to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes , a conservative Christian sports ministry that requires staff to abide to a “sexual purity” policing, which forbids all “homosexual acts”.

A further donation of $115,000 went to the Salvation Army, another Christian charity that has long been condemned for its attitude towards the LGBT+ homeless. This is in addition to $1.8 million in Chick-fil-A donations to the FCA, the Salvation Army and the Paul Anderson Youth Home in 2017.