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Now That The 'Chick-fil-A Bill' Is Law, Will It Lead To Discrimination?

A Chick-fil-A restaurant on Fredericksburg Road in Balcones Heights.
Bri Kirkham | Texas Public Radio

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Texas Religious Liberty Bill, known as the “Save Chick-fil-A bill.”

In March, the San Antonio City Council voted to exclude the restaurant chain from an airport vending contract because of the company’s financial contribution to organizations opposed to LGBTQ+ rights. The decision ignited a firestorm of claims alleging the City Council committed religious discrimination.

Jeffrey Abramson is a professor of law and government at the University of Texas at Austin. He said the new law is “a wolf masquerading in sheep’s clothing.”

The initial bill, as filed in the Legislature, used expansive language that would have allowed people with religious convictions to violate a number of anti-discrimination laws if they conflicted with an individual’s beliefs, Abramson said. In its final form, the bill amounts to a restatement of existing law.

The law, according to Abramson, reaffirms the government would be in violation of individuals’ free speech rights if it took action against someone for association with a religious group.

“That sheep-like statement is perfectly fine, but given the background of the law, you know, you worry about whether the wolf is going to reappear,” Abramson said.

One critic from San Antonio said the new law is an attempt to green light discrimination.

Robert Salcido is the executive director of Pride Center San Antonio.  He said federal law already bans discrimination, and the legislature needs to be addressing real problems in the state.

“I think it is appeasing special interest groups who partner with some of our elected officials just to give a sense to business owners that discrimination is okay, and we know it certainly is not,” he said.

An interview conducted by the Texas Standard contributed to this report.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.