Texas state Rep. Jeff Leach (R) said Tuesday that lawmakers had an obligation to ensure Chick-fil-A was able to have stores in every airport across the country.
His comments come one day after the Republican-controlled Texas state Senate revived a bill that would prevent local governments from impeding Chick-fil-A and other companies based on their religious beliefs, moral convictions, and anti-LGBTQ views.
“People love Chick-fil-A. You can’t argue with Chick-fil-A’s food and I don’t think you should be able to argue with the organizations that Chick-fil-A chooses to support either,” Leach said, speaking with Fox & Friends.
He continued, “It’s our obligation as policymakers, as lawmakers, is to protect that right of Chick-fil-A to do that and to protect their right to exist and to have an establishment in any airport, in any city, in any community across the country.”
As ThinkProgress previously reported, Chick-fil-A has a long record of supporting anti-LGBTQ causes. Its foundation has given millions of dollars to tax-exempt groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, despite repeated promises from the company’s leadership to end such donations. The fast food chain is also one of the only major companies remaining in the United States that does not protect LGBTQ employees in its employment non-discrimination policy.
After ThinkProgress reported in March that the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave $1.8 million to discriminatory groups in 2017, several colleges and local governments began reevaluating their partnerships with the company. The San Antonio City Council canceled a planned Chick-fil-A location at its airport, with members noting both the company’s anti-equality record and its six-day-a-week business model, which ensures locations are closed on Sundays.
Angered, Leach and other Texas conservatives have proposed a law that would take away local government’s power to make such determinations and to give special protections to companies that do not believe in equal rights for LGBTQ Texans. Its text states that “a governmental entity may not take any adverse action against any person based wholly or partly on a person’s belief or action in accordance with the person’s sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction, including beliefs or convictions regarding marriage.”
Leach framed it as a matter of fundamental rights on Tuesday, suggesting that because many people like Chick-fil-A’s sandwiches and because the company closes on Sundays to allow its Christian employees time to go to church, lawmakers have a duty to ensure that every single airport has one.
“What I also love seeing is on Sundays, when walk through the airport or I drive through our community and I see Chick-fil-A closed. And Chick-fil-A has just chosen to close its doors on Sunday — as many other businesses do — to allow their employees to worship. And they are not forcing them to worship but just allowing them to. And that is so uniquely American,” he said.
Leach did not address the rights of employees who worship on days other than Sunday.
Leach notably ran for office promising to “rein in the size and scope of government” and to “limit the government’s involvement in the lives of Texans.”
The transportation authority in Buffalo, New York, announced recently that it would also drop a planned Chick-fil-A from the Buffalo airport. Students at Trinity University in Texas and faculty at California Polytechnic State University have voted to recommend removing the company from their on-campus locations as well.