Texas Senate Approves 'Save Chick-fil-A' Bill to Counter San Antonio Council's Ban of the Restaurant in Airport

Texas lawmakers have begun expediting a bill to keep governments in the state from banning businesses or taking adverse actions against people because of religious beliefs. Though it's officially called Senate Bill 1978, it's better known as the "Save Chick-fil-A" bill.

The Texas Senate approved the bill Wednesday evening in a party-line vote in the Republican-heavy state. The bill was approved by a 19 to 12 vote Wednesday, with a final vote on the Senate floor to take place Thursday. All but one Republican senator approved the bill while all but one Democrat opposed it, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

The bill is primarily aimed at the San Antonio City Council, which has recently voted to deny fast-food giant Chick-fil-A commercial space in its city airport, saying the restaurant practiced "anti-LGBTQ behavior" for donating money to religious groups who opposed gay marriage.

Bryan Hughes, the senator from Mineola in the eastern part of the state near Tyler, who authored the bill, said SB 1978 has fast-tracked because of decisions made by the San Antonio council.

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"This bill says the government cannot discriminate against you based on your affiliation with a religious group or donation to a religious group," Hughes said.

SB 1978 would not protect religious groups that participate in activities that would prevent or disqualify them from obtaining or keeping a federal tax-exempt standing.

Sen. Royce West from Dallas said the bill would force government entities like San Antonio to do business with a group they feel discriminates.

"Your bill will allow someone to be a member of an organization that discriminates," West said. "Your bill would force a government to do business with them even if that government didn't want to do business with them."

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The bill in the Texas Congress addresses an issue that gained national traction two months ago when the San Antonio City Council voted against Chick-fil-A taking up space in the airport. That vote passed by a 6 to 4 margin, and failed to get brought up on future agendas through another vote.

Since the original San Antonio council vote, the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport has also prevented Chick-fil-A from doing business there as well.

Should the bill pass the Texas Senate on Thursday, it will then be sent to the lower chamber, where the House will have until Tuesday to pass it and send it to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.

Texas Senate Approves 'Save Chick-fil-A' Bill to Counter San Antonio Council's Ban of the Restaurant in Airport | U.S.