Monday, December 3, 2018

The billboard and the SPLC are getting under ADF's skin

The No Gays Allowed billboard in Times Square
Screen Capture
Alliance Defending Freedom is a $50 million/year anti-LGBT hate group. It postures as a defender of religious freedom which seems to usually mean the “right” to discriminate against LGBT people.

Being deemed a hate group does not sit well with the folks at ADF. A new campaign is highlighting some of ADF's rancor when it comes to LGBT people. The campaign features a prominent three dimensional billboard in New York's Times Square directing people to

According to NBC News, the group sponsoring the billboard is Citizens for Transparency. NBC reported:
A statement released about the campaign lists a number of prominent LGBTQ activist … “allies” of No Gays Allowed. They include Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry; Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights; Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN (formerly the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network); and Christine Quinn, the former speaker of the New York City Council.

Citizens for Transparency is not included in the New York State database of corporations and business entities. However, the database does not include assumed names. Presumably this is an assumed name for an existing 501(c)3.
In response to the newly launched campaign, ADF’s senior counsel, Jeremy Tedesco, shot back at Citizens for Transparency, calling it “an anonymous group that simply copies and pastes false claims" of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The fact that Citizens for Transparency is anonymous is irrelevant. Note that Mr. Tedesco failed to identify what the SPLC got wrong about ADF. The SPLC relies on an organization's own words and its own actions.
Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy Christianity and society. ADF also works to develop “religious liberty” legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBT people on the basis of religion. Since the election of President Donald Trump, the ADF has become one of the most influential groups informing the administration’s attack on LGBT rights working with an ally in Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“ADF is one the nation’s most respected and successful Supreme Court advocates, working to preserve our fundamental freedoms of speech, religion and conscience,” Tedesco wrote in an email to NBC News. “ADF is not litigating any cases, pursuing any legislation, nor supporting the passage of any laws domestically or internationally that criminalize sodomy.”
Winning cases at the Supreme Court does not mean that ADF is not a hate group. The SPLC did not claim that ADF is currently working to criminalize homosexuality. ADF has done that and may very well do so again. The best predictor of human behavior is past behavior.

One of ADF's current hobbies is the promulgation of bigoted model legislation preventing transgender accommodations. It seeks to spread the myth that trans kids are dangerous to others.

ADF released a statement in response to the Times Square billboard. It is authored by Sarah Kramer:
Citizens for Transparency – that’s the group behind an ad prominently displayed in Times Square that reads: “No Gays Allowed. STOP Alliance Defending Freedom.” The campaign is aimed at discrediting the successful work that Alliance Defending Freedom does to preserve our fundamental freedoms of speech, religion, and conscience.
No, it is aimed at highlighting the fact that ADF traffics in anti-LGBT hate. The fact that ADF is sometimes successful provides the imperative. In their statement, ADF is attacking Citizens for Transparency ad hominem - attacking the arguer rather than the arguments.
The group behind this is clearly trying to smear us behind the shade of anonymity. A Citizens for Transparency spokesperson has claimed that the organization is a “group of concerned queer folks that want to fight back against ADF and what they’re doing.”
The anonymity is irrelevant. If there is a “smear,” ADF has failed to point it out. It is ADF that routinely smears LGBT people.
But here’s the thing. ADF works to defend the right of all Americans to live according to their beliefs. That applies for those behind Citizens for Transparency as much as it does for our clients. We fight for freedom for all.
Platitudes! ADF fights for the supposed rights of people to discriminate against LGBT people in defiance of laws prohibiting such discrimination. They do nothing positive for any LGBT person or persons and they never have.
In fact, we recently won our ninth case at the U.S. Supreme Court in seven years. Our most recent Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, was a 7-2 victory – where the Supreme Court found that the State of Colorado acted with impermissible hostility toward Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips’ religious beliefs.
ADF did not accomplish its objective in Masterpiece. ADF challenged the nondiscrimination law and that remains in full force and effect. A real victory for ADF would have been a ruling that nondiscrimination laws have a religious exemption. ADF was arguing against established precedent. If Jack Phillips discriminates again (as he has) the state can, and has, held him accountable.
Citizens for Transparency, on the other hand, is anything but transparent. There isn’t a website for the group or readily available contact information. And the domain name purchases for the anti-ADF campaign website are hidden.

Here is what we do know about Citizens for Transparency:
  1. They are an anonymous group with major donor backing.
  2. They are trumpeting the same old talking points from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The fact that Citizens for Transparency is anonymous has no bearing on the accuracy of the statements that they make. 50 million tax-deducted dollars flow to ADF yearly. Those donors are anonymous. We all subsidize ADF.

As for the SPLC, it does not have talking points (“same old” or otherwise). The SPLC has reacted to statements from ADF and the things that ADF does and has done. ADF's antagonistic anti-transgender campaign is enough to deem it a hate group. Bathrooms are a contrived argument because ADF does not want to argue that transgender people pose a threat to Christianity. However, that is their intent. Just last year, according to the SPLC:
ADF legal counsel Douglas Wardlow testifies in an Anoka-Hennepin school board meeting in Minnesota against allowing trans students to access facilities in accordance with their gender identities. Prior to his testimony, he sent a letter to the board in which he used the discredited research of Mark Regnerus and Paul McHugh to falsely claim that protecting trans students from discrimination is not supported by medical science. It is.
In 2016:
ADF attorney Ken Fletcher testifies at a contentious board of education meeting in Fannin County, Georgia, where attendees cheer those who referred to LGBT students as “perverts” and “pedophiles.” Fletcher tells the crowd that transgender students face a higher risk of suicide and that schools should lead them back to their birth gender, citing anti-LGBTQ hate group the American College of Pediatricians.
The SPLC's sheet on ADF has not been updated since July, 2017. There is much more. The arguments are not “the same” nor are they “old.”

Ms. Kramer goes on to disparage the SPLC with the same old talking points. She fails to cite a single thing that the SPLC has gotten wrong about ADF.

ADF personnel seem to be highly agitated by the billboard. Instead of attacking those responsible (and the SPLC which is not responsible) ADF should direct its energies towards being less hateful. Then there will not be any billboards. ADF won't do that. Hate groups rarely change. The billboard may be only a beginning.

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