Metro Weekly

Jeff Sessions gives closed door speech to anti-gay group’s conference

Alliance Defending Freedom is best known for its advocacy of anti-LGBTQ "religious liberty" laws

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions – Photo: Gage Skidmore.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave a speech on Tuesday to Alliance Defending Freedom, a group notorious for their opposition to LGBTQ rights.

Sessions spoke at the group’s Summit on Religious Liberty in Orange County, California, an event that was closed to press, according to the Department of Justice.

No information was provided as to the venue or Sessions’ talking points. Information about the summit was hidden behind a password wall when Right Wing Watch tried to investigate further.

BuzzFeed’s Dominic Holden asked the DOJ why Sessions was speaking at the ADF event, and whether it signaled a new position in court. The DOJ declined to comment.

ADF is best known for pushing socially conservative causes, particularly “religious liberty” laws that exempt people who oppose homosexuality and transgenderism from having to provide goods or services to LGBTQ people. The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, where ADF is representing Colorado baker Jim Phillips. Phillips is challenging Colorado’s nondiscrimination law, claiming that he should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples because of opposition to homosexuality for religious reasons.

“You can judge a person by the company they keep and tonight, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is choosing to spend his time speaking in front of one of the country’s leading anti-LGBTQ hate groups,” DNC spokesman Joel Kasnetz said in a statement. “The Alliance Defending Freedom actively helped draft discriminatory legislation, worked to preserve laws criminalizing same-sex relations, and attacked the separation of church and state.”

Kasnetz also questioned Sessions’ commitment to equality, noting that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Alliance Defending Freedom as a “hate group” for its anti-LGBTQ advocacy.

“ADF has been previously designated a hate group and Sessions’ appearance at this event, as the top law enforcement official in the country, brings in to question whether the attorney general intends to protect all Americans.”

 

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com