Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Attorney General Sessions refuses to release transcript of his speech to anti-LGBTQ hate group

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

UPDATE - Sessions's speech has been posted and it's not that controversial (for now). Dominic Holden of Buzzfeed breaks it down

From Mediaite:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a much deserved record of both casual racism and outright attacks on civil rights, but his latest actions reveal he’s hardly concerned about his reputation for bigotry. Sessions opted to speak to members of the Alliance Defending Freedom, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an “anti-LGBT hate group” in 2016, at an event closed off to reporters on Tuesday night, and now, Sessions is refusing to release his remarks to the group to the public. ABC News reports that the Department of Justice confirmed that Sessions spoke to the group on Tuesday, but didn’t respond to multiple requests for Sessions’ remarks to the group. Instead, the department released transcripts of Sessions’ remarks from speeches made in Dallas and Las Vegas this week. A spokesperson for the Alliance Defending Freedom told ABC News the group was “working through channels” to release his remarks, but did not specify when they would be released, nor did the group comment on the nature of its relationship with Sessions.

According to SPLC:

Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group 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. Despite its regular defamation of LGBT people, the group has managed to win special advisory status at the United Nations, in the European Union, and with the Organization of American States.

. . . The ADF has several initiatives that help train conservative Christians. These include a variety of programs designed for young lawyers, including the Young Lawyers Academy, which schools new U.S. attorneys and provides opportunities to “engage the culture and join a network of Christian attorneys around the globe,” and the Areté Academy, which “launches highly accomplished university students and recent graduates on a path to future leadership in law, government, business, and public policy.”

The ADF Academy is a training program that purports to equip participants to “effectively advocate for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.” The ADF claims more than 1,800 lawyers have participated. The organization also offers the secretive Blackstone Legal Fellowship, through which Christian law students study under prominent scholars, participate in internships, and prepare for life and leadership in the legal profession. Since 2000 (the year of Blackstone’s inception), the ADF claims it has trained over 1,600 law students from 225 law schools in 21 different countries.

Media Matters pointed out how ADF uses these resources to create a homophobic octopus whose tentacles stretch not only across America, but several foreign countries

1. ADF Defended The Constitutionality Of Criminalizing Gay Sex In The U.S. ADF has formally supported anti-sodomy laws since 2003, when it filed an amicus brief in Lawrence v. Texas to defend state sodomy laws on the grounds that gay sex is unhealthy, harmful, and a public health risk, writing that “same-sex sodomy is a distinct public health problem. It clearly is.” 
2. ADF Has Expanded Its Anti-Choice, Anti-LGBTQ Extemism Internationally. While ADF has largely run out of options for promoting the criminalization of homosexuality in America, the group has taken its anti-sodomy agenda overseas. ADF has actively worked to promote and defend anti-sodomy laws that criminalize gay sex in Jamaica, Belize and India. In 2010, the United Nations granted special consultant status to ADF, allowing the group to help shape international human rights policy and treaties. More recently, the group has become involved in the Organization of American States, where ADF’s mission has been battling “abortion and radical sexual agendas.” 
3.  ADF Is Behind The National Push For Anti-LGBT “Religious Freedom” Laws. Since 2013, ADF has led the national push for so-called “religious freedom” laws (RFRAs) that seek to enshrine a legal right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. ADF was behind Arizona’s failed 2014 RFRA, Indiana’s controversial 2015 RFRA, and similar bills that were eventually killed in Colorado, Georgia, and Arkansas. 
 4. ADF Is Leading The National Campaign For “Bathroom Bills” Targeting Transgender Youth. In 2014, ADF launched a national campaign to eliminate nondiscrimination protections for transgender students and instead enshrine its own legislation that would prevent transgender students from accessing facilities consistent with their gender identity. ADF has influenced discriminatory state and local school district policies across the country with so-called “bathroom bills,” like North Carolina’s infamous HB 2, that borrow language from ADF’s model legislation. 
 5. ADF Believes In A “Homosexual Agenda” Dedicated To Destroying Christianity. ADF founder Alan Sears literally wrote the book on the alleged “homosexual agenda” -- his 2003 book The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today compared the gay "propaganda" movement to what "Hitler did so masterfully in Nazi Germany, to get the American public on their side." As SPLC noted, ADF “has also promoted the idea of a ‘homosexual agenda’ -- a nefarious scheme to destroy Christianity and, eventually, civilization.”

And of course, central to all of this is ADF's hate group designation by SPLC. Media Matters points out that:

ADF’s leaders and affiliated lawyers have “regularly demonized LGBT people, falsely linking them to pedophilia, calling them ‘evil’ and a threat to children and society, and blaming them for the ‘persecution of devout Christians.’” As SPLC has repeatedly clarified, it does not list organizations as anti-LGBTQ hate groups on the basis of “opposition to same-sex marriage or the belief that the Bible describes homosexual activity as sinful.”

SPLC provides examples of this:

“The endgame of the homosexual legal agenda is unfettered sexual liberty and the silencing of all dissent." - ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley at the Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage conference, 2014

"When given the same choice the Supreme Court of the United States had in Lawrence vs. Texas, the Indian Court did the right thing. India chose to protect society at large rather than give in to a vocal minority of homosexual advocates. … America needs to take note that a country of 1.2 billion people has rejected the road towards same-sex marriage, and understood that these kinds of bad decisions in the long run will harm society." - Benjamin Bull, executive director of ADF Global, on the recriminalization of homosexuality in India, 2013 
"In the end, those who profess to be ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian,’ or who have otherwise slipped in and out of homosexual behavior, including ‘cruising’ for anonymous partners, are people who succumb to a dangerous temptation.” - Austin Nimocks, then-ADF senior counsel, writing at, 2007
“We mention the new promotion of pedophilia in the context of talking about the influence of homosexual behavior on college campuses, because, despite all objections to the contrary, the two are often intrinsically linked.” - Alan Sears and Craig Osten, The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today, 2003 (Sears is former president and CEO of the ADF)

All of these facts brings us back to the central question:

What the hell is the United States Attorney General doing speaking to a group like this and why won't he release his speech to the public?

Jay Michaelson of The Daily Beast breaks down the reasons why we need to know the facts:

The ADF isn’t going away. It has expanded internationally – in 2014, its representatives met with the lead authors of Russia’s anti-homosexuality law, and it sent anti-gay activists to Uganda to support its “Kill the Gays” bill. And it has raised millions from a fundamentalist-right-wing funder network that now gives out over $1 billion per year in grants. These numbers dwarf those of progressive funders – the leading LGBT-funding foundation, for example, gives out $16 million per year. That’s why Sessions’ visit is so alarming: not because he met with some fringe hate group, but because he met with his close friends and colleagues, armed with more resources than ever before, and determined to fight their fundamentalist crusade to the last drop of someone else’s blood.

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