When Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, indicated that he would sign into a law a bill to prevent jurisdictions from discriminating against popular fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A, conservatives called it a defense of religious freedom and liberals cried it was a license to discriminate against gays.
Stripped to its essentials, it’s neither. It supports one of the most basic of all human rights— freedom of speech.
The legislation, dubbed the "Save Chick-fil-A" bill, was drafted in response to the San Antonio city Council’s decision to ban the eatery from setting up shop at its airport, serving the nation's seventh-largest city, according to The Associated Press.
San Antonio’s ordinance was prompted by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s assertion to the Baptist Press he was "guilty as charged" of supporting the biblical definitions of marriage and the family unit. The restaurant chain’s founders have also reportedly donated to anti-LGBT causes.
San Antonio council member Roberto Trevino said in March that the city doesn’t have space in its "public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior."
But the company hierarchy's religious and political beliefs are totally separate from its business model.
As David Farmer, Chick-fil-A's vice president of menu strategy and development told Business Insider in 2016, "Chick-fil-A is about food, and that's it."
And a Chick-fil-A spokesperson reiterated that in a recent statement to NBC News.
"We are a restaurant company focused on food and hospitality for all, and we have no social or political stance," the statement said. "We are grateful for all our customers and are glad to serve them at any time. We welcome and embrace all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity."
And that’s why both conservatives and liberals are wrong about the "Save Chick-fil-A" bill.
It’s not about religious freedom. It’s about giving the restaurant chain the same opportunity to establish an outlet as it would any other business. It’s about selling chicken sandwiches, Coleslaw, waffle fries and lemonade.
And it has absolutely nothing to do with LGBT rights.
It serves anyone who walks through the door without regard to race, color, creed sex, or sexual preference. It’s also an equal opportunity employer that hires blind to those same criteria. If they didn’t they wouldn’t remain in business long.
But according to the left, it’s not about the practices, customs, and beliefs of their customers and employees — it’s about the beliefs of its upper management.
Attitude shifts can be applied to many liberals on nearly every issue.
If it’s an issue in which they approve — like marijuana, solar panels, and electric vehicles — they want to make it mandatory.
If it’s an issue in which they disapprove — like firearms, non-reusable grocery bags, and plastic straws — they want it banned.
While the bill nominally supports religious freedom — the religious freedom of Chick-fil-A’s owners and upper management — more than that it supports another First Amendment right — freedom of speech.
It protects the fundamental right of Cathy to harbor his own political opinions and exchange those opinions with others without fear of reprisal.
In Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court established early into former President Barack Obama’s administration that off all types of speech, political speech should be one of the most jealously protected.
Obama vociferously disagreed with that decision, and publicly berated the court for it during his first State of the union address. Politifact repliedd that he was off base and exaggerating.
Liberals, nonetheless, cry that the Texas bill is discriminatory, a claim that National Review editor Charles C. W. Cooke thought illogical and ridiculous.
"It is absolutely bizarre to characterize a bill that echoes and enforces the First Amendment’s prohibition on government viewpoint discrimination as . . . discrimination,," Cooke tweeted.
The city of San Antonio sought to deny business owners the right to harbor their own personal, political, and religious opinion, and tried to deny a business from opening an outlet on city property solely on the basis of those opinions.
That was unconstitutional and the state of Texas is merely trying to correct that wrong.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports - Click Here.
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