In wide coverage of the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a Colorado case in which a bakery refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple, reporters are almost universally failing to mention that the powerful organization representing the bakery in court has a long history of opposition to same-sex marriage, LGBT equality, abortion, and other rights that are under attack by the Christian right.
The organization, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is fundamentally opposed to the civil rights of gay people. That’s what the organization is about―and it should be described as such in the context of this case, especially because ADF is trying to present itself as defending the alleged rights of the baker, Jack Phillips, to express himself as an artist and religious devotee.
“The government in Colorado is picking and choosing which messages they’ll support and which artistic messages they’ll protect,” Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Denver Post yesterday. An ADF legal counsel, writing in The Denver Post, ludicrously referred to Phillips’ bakery as an “art gallery of cakes.”
It’s clear that defending art galleries has never been top of mind for ADF, which has been on a crusade against homosexuality since its founding by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson and others in 1994.
In fact, the respected Southern Poverty Law Center includes ADF on its anti-LGBT hate group list.
The organization’s anti-choice and anti-LGBT stances, including its efforts to overturn state laws banning discrimination against LGBT people, are widely documented, including the fact that ADF has backed efforts to criminalize homosexuality abroad. As illustrated here, ADF sits at the center of America’s network of Christian right groups.
In a 2015 handbook designed to help religious entities discriminate without facing legal repercussions, ADF equates bestiality and incest with being LGBTQ―or even with participating in adultery, and using pornography.
“We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female,” states the handbook. “These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. (Gen 1:26-27.) Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.” The handbook continues: “We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Cor 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4.) We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God. (Matt 15:18-20; 1 Cor 6:9-10.)”
Here in Colorado, the face of ADF has long been Michael J. Norton, who left ADF recently to start the Colorado Freedom Institute, but he apparently continues to represent the group on occasion.
Norton, who drafted a 2006 amendment that voters added to the Colorado Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman, testified frequently at the state capitol and has been an outspoken advocate for anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ campaigns.
As I blogged previously, ADF was embraced in 2015 by 33 Colorado Republican state legislators to push for an investigation of Planned Parenthood. The lawmakers, who appeared to be led by State Rep. Dan Nordberg of Colorado Springs, included State Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa and State Sen. Tim Neville of Littleton.
In a Denver Post opinion piece Tuesday, ADF’s lawyer writes that the baker who discriminated against gays should “have his cake and freedom too.”
Actually, it’s gay people who should have their wedding cake and freedom too. But they won’t, if ADF succeeds in blocking their basic human rights.