QUEER VOICES
07/13/2017 04:46 pm ET

Jeff Sessions Delivered A Speech To A Hate Group But Won't Release It

The Southern Poverty Law Center isn't having any of it.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at the Summit on Religious Liberty in Dana Point, California on Tuesday. 
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at the Summit on Religious Liberty in Dana Point, California on Tuesday. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke before a conservative Christian organization known for its opposition to LGBTQ causes Tuesday, but to the frustration of queer activists, his remarks remain shrouded in mystery.

A Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed that Sessions addressed members of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), at the Summit on Religious Liberty in Dana Point, California this week. Despite requests from multiple news outlets including CNN and ABC, Sessions’s remarks have yet to be released. 

The five-day summit, which wrapped Thursday and was not open to the press, promised to “bring together prominent legal advocates, scholars, cultural commentators, business executives and church leaders to examine the current state of religious freedom,” according to its website. Together, participants would “develop legal and cultural strategies to allow freedom to flourish in the United States and around the world.”

The Department of Justice’s closed-door response to Sessions’s appearance at the event prompted the SPLC to file a Freedom of Information Act request for the attorney general’s remarks to be released to the media on Wednesday. In a press release, the SPLC’s Deputy Legal Director David Dinielli said that his organization was “concerned” by Sessions’s decision to speak before a “group that supports criminalizing homosexuality and marginalizing [LGBTQ] people around the world.” 

“For this reason, we have filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking the Department of Justice to make Mr. Sessions’s remarks available promptly,” he added. “The American public has a right to know what he said.”

Among the other groups angered by Sessions’s appearance at the summit was the Human Rights Campaign, who blasted the news in a series of tweets Tuesday.

Sessions has an established opposition to LGBTQ rights. Previously, he voted in support of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and against taking up a bill providing workplace discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

He was also a vocal opponent of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which prohibited gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the military. 

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