Abbott Signs ‘Save Chick-fil-A’ Bill Into Law
A bill designed to protect private citizens and entities from adverse government action based on their affiliation with or donations to religious organizations has been signed into law.
Governor Greg Abbott approved Senate Bill 1978 Monday. The bill, nicknamed the "Save Chick-Fil-A" bill, was brought before the legislature after the San Antonio City Council voted in March to exclude the chicken franchise from an airport concessions deal due to the company's history of donating to groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
The governor's stamp of approval came as no surprise, as he'd hinted at his support of the measure on social media as early as May 20.
A House Research Organization report on the bill summarized its intent:
SB 1978 would prohibit a governmental entity from taking any adverse action against any person based wholly or partly on the person's membership in, affiliation with, or contribution, donation, or other support provided to a religious organization.
However, the bill does allow government entities to deny contracts to businesses that boycott Israel and restrict certain state investments in those companies.
According to the HRO report, supporters of the bill argued that the law will prevent government entities from discriminating against people and businesses exercising their religious freedom of expression. The bill couldn't be used to "cloak discriminatory action", they argued, because the law's protection would not extend to groups engaged in racial discrimination or other activities that would disqualify them from federal tax-exempt status.
Opponents argued that the bill would force local officials to do business with individuals or entities supporting religious organizations that do not reflect the values of their citizens. They felt the bill was unnecessary, as the First Amendment and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act already prevent the government from burdening a person's free exercise of religion. Opponents also worried that SB 1978 would send the wrong message to companies looking to do business with and in Texas, making it appear as if our state does not value inclusion.