Department of Transportation Launches Investigation Into Chick-fil-A Airport Bans

A man carries he drink outside a Chick-Fil-A fast food restaurant in Hollywood, California August 1, 2012. Thousands of Americans turned out Wednesday to feast on fried chicken in a politically-charged show of support for a family owned fast-food chain which opposes same-sex marriage. Long lines and traffic jams were …
ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages

The Department of Transportation announced last week that the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating religious discrimination claims after Chick-fil-A, known for its Christian values, was dismissed by airports in Buffalo and San Antonio.

In a statement, the DOT said:

The Department has received complaints alleging discrimination by two airport operators against a private company due to the expression of the owner’s religious beliefs. FAA’s Office of Civil Rights has notified the San Antonio International Airport (SAT) and Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) that it has opened investigations into these complaints. The FAA notes that Federal requirements prohibit airport operators from excluding persons on the basis of religious creed from participating in airport activities that receive or benefit from FAA grant funding.

In March, the San Antonio city council passed a motion that approved the Food, Beverage and Retail Prime Concession Agreement with Paradies Lagardère for the San Antonio International Airport. Chick-fil-A was excluded from that agreement. Councilman Roberto Treviño, who expressed animosity towards Chick-fil-A, claimed the fast-food chain displayed “anti-LGBTQ behavior.” Treviño also said the ban reaffirmed that San Antonio is a champion of “equality and inclusion.”

Shortly after the San Antonio city council’s decision, Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton announced an investigation into the ban.

“When I announced my investigation of the City of San Antonio for its blatant discrimination against Chick-fil-A, I also brought this matter to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s attention,” Paxton told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I had complete confidence Secretary Chao would recognize, as her office has today, that the City of San Antonio’s intolerant actions warrant investigation.”

He added, “Blatant discrimination based on the religious beliefs associated with a company and its owners violates the Constitution and is inconsistent with both Texas and federal law.”

Days later, after an investigation into the San Antonio ban had been announced, Buffalo Niagara International Airport canceled plans to open a Chick-fil-A after Democratic New York state Rep. Sean Ryan shared his distaste for the restaurant.

“The views of Chick-fil-A do not represent our state or the Western New York community, and businesses that support discrimination have no place operating in taxpayer-funded public facilities,” Ryan wrote in a Facebook post last month. “I urge you to reverse this decision and identify a different restaurant to operate at the airport.”

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