Conservative Christians Hold ‘Save Chick-fil-A’ Protest at Texas Capitol and Urge Support for Religious Freedom Bills After Airports Turn Company Away for Its ‘Legacy of Anti-LGBTQ Behavior’

Dallas Pastor Stephen Broden leads a closing prayer during a press conference as part of “Save Chick-Fil-A Day” at the Texas state capital extension on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 in Austin. (Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News) (Ashley Landis/Staff Photographer)

Conservative Christians gathered at the Texas Capitol on Wednesday to urge support for two bills, backed by North Texas lawmakers, that would protect business owners who cite their faith to turn away certain customers.

Dubbed “Save Chick-fil-A Day,” the event was organized to protest the San Antonio City Council’s decision to ban the fast-food chain from a local airport because of the business’ stance on LGBT rights. Texas Values, a Christian advocacy group that has opposed greater rights for LGBT Texans, hosted the protest and kicked off the event with a news conference.

“This Legislature — this House and this Senate — has an opportunity to hold the San Antonio City Council accountable and make it clear that you should not discriminate based on religious beliefs,” Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz said. “Save Chick-fil-A and help us support religious freedom.”

Saenz urged members of the public to come to the Capitol on Wednesday to support two bills being debated later in the afternoon.

House Bill 1035 by Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, would bar negative repercussions for county clerks and judges who cite their faith to turn away same-sex couples, and marriage-related businesses, like bakers and florists, that refuse service to these couples. House Bill 3172 by Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, would prohibit the government from penalizing someone for actions related to religious beliefs or moral conviction. Krause’s bill would not allow someone to break any current state or federal laws, so it’ll still be illegal to discriminate based on a person’s race or sex.

Texas law, however, does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, which means it’s still legal in most of the state to fire someone, decline to rent a home or refuse services to people because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Some cities, including Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano, have taken steps to protect their LGBT citizens’ rights. Last month, the San Antonio City Council voted to exclude Chick-fil-A from its renovation of the airport food court offerings. They cited the Atlanta-based chain’s “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” specifically, the fact that the company’s nonprofit arm has given millions to anti-LGBT groups. A couple of weeks later, Chick-fil-A was also ousted from the airport in Buffalo, N.Y.

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SOURCE: Dallas Morning News, Lauren McGaughy