Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being criticized for delivering a speech to an anti-LGBTQ hate group. On Tuesday night he addressed the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian law firm that advocates against LGBTQ rights, but the Justice Department won’t release his remarks, according to ABC.
The event reportedly aimed 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.” A spokesperson for the Alliance Defending Freedom said it was “working through channels” to release Sessions’s remarks at the gathering.
The ADF was classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2016; according to the center’s website, the ADF “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.” This characterization doesn’t sit well with the ADF, which recently published a column defending its ideology.
Sessions’s voting record as an Alabama senator was generally in line with the ADF’s stances — for example, he supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage; voted against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to categories protected against hate crimes; and voted against repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. But although his attendance at an event involving the ADF isn’t surprising, some LGBTQ advocates are worried about the message it sends.
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, who’s the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate, told ABC it “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.”