The Texas House has passed S.B. 1978, the so called “Save Chick-fil-A” Bill.
The bill is expected to go back to the Texas Senate for final passage and then be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign it into law.
As CNN notes:
“The measure, authored by Republican Sen. Bryan Hughes, prohibits the government from taking ‘adverse action’ against any individuals or businesses based on membership, support or donations to religious groups. The bill was amended on Monday to remove language that would have allowed the Texas attorney general to bring action against any government entity or employee that refused to comply with the bill.”
According to the language of the bill, “adverse action” includes:
“(A) withhold, reduce, exclude, terminate, or otherwise deny any grant, contract, subcontract, cooperative agreement, loan, scholarship, license, registration, accreditation, employment, or other similar status from or to a person;
“(B) withhold, reduce, exclude, terminate, or otherwise deny any benefit provided under a benefit program from or to a person;
“(C) alter in any way the tax treatment of, cause any tax, penalty, or payment assessment against, or deny, delay, or revoke a tax exemption of a person;
“(D) disallow a tax deduction for any charitable contribution made to or by a person;
“(E) deny admission to, equal treatment in, or eligibility for a degree from an educational program or institution to a person; or
“(F) withhold, reduce, exclude, terminate, or otherwise deny access to a property, educational institution, speech forum, or charitable fund-raising campaign from or to a person.”
The trigger that caused the Texas Legislature to take up the bill was a decision by the San Antonio City Council to exclude Chick-fil-A from a concessions contract to that city’s airport.
The decision seemed to have been based solely on the company CEO Dan T. Cathy’s religious beliefs, that include opposition to same sex marriage, and the company’s charitable contributions to several organizations that support “traditional marriage” and are considered anti-LGBT.
It should be noted that Chick-fil-A does not discriminate against LGBT people in its hiring practices or whom they serve meals to.
Nevertheless, when the media reported on Cathy’s private beliefs and Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving, in 2012, a firestorm erupted.
Some in the LGBT community declare a boycott of the chicken sandwich food chain. Politicians in Boston and Chicago declared their intent to block the expansion of the franchise into their cities.
Some college students attempted to ban Chick-fil-A from their campuses.
The campaign against Chick-fil-A caused an immediate and stern backlash, not just from social conservatives, but also from some liberals and even the ACLU.
As Fox News reported at the time:
“’The government can regulate discrimination in employment or against customers, but what the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words,’ said Adam Schwartz, senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. ‘When an alderman refuses to allow a business to open because its owner has expressed a viewpoint the government disagrees with, the government is practicing viewpoint discrimination.’”
Others suggested that if politicians in blue states could discriminate against Chick-fil-A just because its CEO opposes same sex marriage, then those in red states could do the same against businesses whose management supports the same.
Such discrimination runs counter to the First Amendment to the Constitution.
The Texas law simply provides support for freedom of speech in statute.
Recently, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay man to run for president in a major party, suggested that while he naturally disagrees with Chick-fil-A’s stance, that boycotting the eatery is counter productive and that politics should be confined to the political realm.
Incidentally, the calls for a boycott of Chick-fil-A sparked a counter campaign, termed a “buycott,” in support of the chicken sandwich chain.
The buycott has become so successful that Chick-fil-A is now the third largest fast food chain in the United States, only behind Starbucks and McDonald’s.
The chain’s main competitor, KFC, has seen a marked decline in market share,
Opponents of the Texas “Save Chick-fil-A” bill claim that it would provide a “back door” for business owners to practice discrimination in hiring and customer service.
Supporters of the bill point out that the clear language of the legislation allows for no such thing.
All it does is to prevent viewpoint discrimination by government entities. Nevertheless, opponents of the bill have vowed to go to court to overturn the law.