July 13, 2017

ABC Uses SPLC Designation to Slam Sessions for Speaking to a ‘Hate Group’

On Wednesday, Pete Madden and Erin Galloway at ABC News smeared Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Alliance Defending Freedom. The two reporters effectively adopted the Southern Poverty Law Center’s baseless designation of ADF as an “anti-LGBT hate group,” and Sessions for having the temerity to deliver a speech at one of the group’s events.

ADF, begun in 1994, has three core missions:

ADF’s lawyers have argued dozens of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and have won several key victories through the years. Two of their most recent wins have been achieved with decisive court majorities.

On June, 26, in the Trinity Lutheran Church case, “The Court ruled 7-2 that the government cannot exclude churches and other faith-based organizations from a secular government program simply because of their religious identity.”

Two years ago, in a unanimous decision, the Court “decisively affirmed … that the government cannot play favorites when it comes to free speech” in an Arizona case “involving restrictions on temporary signs” which had clearly discriminated against a church which used “small, temporary signs to invite and direct the community” to its services at a rented location.

In a more closely decided case in 2014, ADF represented Conestoga Wood Specialties, a small business client whose case was consolidated with Hobby Lobby. In the most important religious conscience case decided thus far directed at undoing Obamacare-driven religious freedom-restricting regulations, the Court ruled 5-4 that closely-held businesses could not be “required to fund abortion-inducing drugs through their employees’ insurance.”

None of this matters to the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center, which the establishment press, as seen in ABC report which is the subject of this post, uses as a crutch to deliver supposedly authoritative smears. SPLC can’t handle the idea that ADF opposes same-sex marriage, a position rendered by voters in over 30 state referenda in recent years and supported by virtually every major-party presidential candidate until 2012.

SPLC wants everyone to believe that anyone who expresses disagreement with the Supreme Court’s June 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision is engaging in hate speech. In ADF’s words, it opposed that decision because it meant that “states can no longer affirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman in their laws” and thereby “stripped all Americans of our freedom to debate and decide marriage policy through the democratic process.”

SPLC has pinned its “hate group” designation on ADF and others who believe that people and businesses have a right to refuse to provide their services at or for same-sex marriage ceremonies and related events. ADF is currently representing Colorado’s Masterpiece Cakeshop and its proprietor, Jack Phillips, against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in a case which will be heard by the Supreme Court next year. It arose because Phillips, “because of his faith, (said) he could not design a cake promoting a same-sex wedding ceremony.”

SPLC’s ability to position itself as the nation’s de facto political correctness police is heavily dependent on the press’s willingness to recognize its existence and promote that role. ABC’s Madden and Galloway certainly did both on Wednesday (bolds are mine):

Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks

Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech to an alleged hate group at an event closed to reporters on Tuesday night, but the Department of Justice is refusing to reveal what he said.

Sessions addressed members of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which was designated an “anti-LGBT hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2016, at the Summit on Religious Liberty at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, in Dana Point, California.

The event promised to “bring together prominent legal advocates, scholars, cultural commentators, business executives and church leaders to examine the current state of religious freedom” and “develop legal and cultural strategies to allow freedom to flourish in the United States and around the world.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin and the first openly gay person to be elected to the U.S. Senate, told ABC News that she was concerned by the speech.

“This sends a very troubling message that our Attorney General, America’s top law enforcement official, is not committed to standing up to anti-LGBT hate,” Baldwin said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice confirmed that Sessions addressed the Alliance Defending Freedom on Tuesday but did not respond to multiple requests to release his remarks. The Department of Justice released a transcript of remarks he delivered in Dallas earlier on Tuesday and a transcript of remarks he delivered in Las Vegas on Wednesday, but a transcript of his address to the Alliance Defending Freedom has yet to be released.

A spokesperson for the Alliance Defending Freedom said that the group was “working through channels” to release his remarks but declined to comment on the nature of Sessions’ relationship with the group.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy group founded in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1994 that “specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally.”

Note that the ABC report provides no evidence that Sessions even addressed “LGBT” matters. Yet its headline, content, and the quote obtained from Tammy Baldwin implicitly assume that he did. SPLC certainly got what it wanted in its campaign to marginalize ADF — even though, as seen in the results of its legal efforts, the group is clearly within the mainstream.

The SPLC’s “hate group” designation of ADF and its attacks on anyone who dares to associate with it would appear to betray an ultimate and far broader mission, namely that of “making life as difficult as possible” for Christians and other religious believers who act on or express their traditional beliefs in the public square, both in the U.S. and internationally.

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