‘Save Chick-fil-A’ bill advances in Texas Legislature

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Chick-fil-A on Track to Become Third Largest Fast Food Chain The chicken chain will claim the No. 3 spot in the U.S. in sales by the end of 2018. This is big jump from being the No. 7 spot in 2017. Analyst Mark Kalinowski initially predicted Chick-fil-A would take the No. 3 spot in 2020. He recently updated his forecast that it would be third by 2019. In 2017, Chick-fil-A sales grew by $1.1 billion. It is difficult to calculate exact sales because Chick-fil-A is a private company. The nearest competitor w

The measure stems from San Antonio City Council’s decision to block the Atlanta-based restaurant from opening shop at the airport

It’s been banned at a New Jersey university and scrapped at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, but Texas lawmakers want to make the move to protect Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A from facing that fate in their state.

On Monday, the Texas House passed a “religious freedom” measure that would prevent local governments from taking “adverse actions” against a business or person because of their religious beliefs or moral convictions, “including beliefs or convictions regarding marriage.”

The Texas Senate passed the measure, SB 1978, last week. SB 1978 is a softened version of House Bill 3172, which was killed earlier this month. It is highly likely Gov. Greg Abbott will sign the legislation, based on his recent tweet.

The legislation was filed in response to the San Antonio City Council’s vote to keep Chick-fil-A from opening a location at the city’s airport, citing the company’s “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”

» San Antonio city officials exclude Chick-fil-A from airport

Chick-fil-A has a history of donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations, and the city's vote was applauded by the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, a local LGBTQ political action committee, KSAT reported.

NBC News previously reported both the House and Senate versions of the legislation were inspired by Project Blitz, a political group seeking to introduce "religious freedom" bills in legislatures across the country. Although each "Save Chick-fil-A" bill was amended before passage, the original drafts were borrowed from model legislation included in Project Blitz's 148-page "playbook." Project Blitz is a collaborative effort of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, the Christian nationalist group Wallbuilders and the conservative National Legal Foundation.

The Dallas Morning News quoted Sen. Bryan Hughes, who authored the bill, as saying: "The bill as filed ensures religious beliefs are protected from discrimination. It's about the First Amendment and freedom of speech, freedom of religion — those uniquely American rights."

» Poll: Chick-fil-A has the best reputation among fast-food companies

But state Rep. Julie Johnson, a Democrat who opposes the bill, called it "a concerted effort to violate the constitutional protections that we've had for centuries with the separation of church and state," NBC News reported.

Johnson, a lesbian and founding member of the Texas House's LGBTQ Caucus, was effective in killing the House version of the bill last week. Johnson and other opponents of the bill say it will give people and businesses the power to discriminate against the LGBTQ community.

If SB 1978 survives one more Senate vote, it will go to Abbott’s desk.

This is not the first time Chick-fil-A has been blocked from opening a restaurant.

In November 2018, Rider University in New Jersey removed the restaurant from its dining options after sending a survey to students about bringing a new restaurant franchise to the school.

» Chick-fil-A brings back this summer sandwich fave, adds new tropical lemonade

And in March, WKBW reported that hospitality company Delaware North and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority canceled plans to include Chick-fil-A at Buffalo Niagara International Airport

In response, Chick-fil-A said:

“Recent coverage about Chick-fil-A continues to drive an inaccurate narrative about our brand. We do not have a political or social agenda or discriminate against any group. More than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand. We embrace all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.”