WASHINGTON The details were spare when the event appeared this summer on Attorney General Jeff Sessionss*public schedule. He would speak on religious liberty to a group called Alliance Defending Freedom. No exact location was specified. No news media would be allowed in.
Only after an outcry over such secrecy and the anti-gay rights positions of its sponsor did a transcript of Mr. Sessionss remarks emerge*on a conservative website. Many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack, he told the gathering in Orange County, Calif. The challenges our nation faces today concerning our historic First Amendment right to the free exercise of our faith have become acute.
Mr. Sessionss focus was not an accident. The First Amendment has become the most powerful weapon of social conservatives fighting to limit the separation of church and state and to roll back laws on same-sex marriage and abortion rights.
Few groups have done more to advance this body of legal thinking than the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has more than 3,000 lawyers working on behalf of its causes around the world and brought in $51.5 million in revenue for the 2015-16 tax year, more than the*American Civil Liberties Union.
We think that in a free society people who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman shouldnt be coerced by the government to promote a different view of marriage, said Jeremy Tedesco, a senior counsel and vice president of United States advocacy for the group, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz. We have to figure out how to live in a society with pluralistic and diverse views.
If there is a battle somewhere to restrict protections for gay men, lesbians or transgender people, chances are the alliance is there fighting it. The alliance has defended the owners of a wedding chapel in Coeur dAlene, Idaho, who did not want to perform same-sex ceremonies. It has tried to stop a Charlotte, N.C., law that gave transgender people the*right to use the bathroom of their choice. It backed the failed attempt by the Arizona legislature in 2014 to allow businesses to cite religious freedom in turning away same-sex couples.
One of those goals was to defend laws that criminalized gay and lesbian sexual conduct.
In a*brief*the alliance filed urging the Supreme Court not to overturn a Texas law that made homosexual activity illegal, its lawyers described gay men as diseased and as public health risks. The court decided 6 to 3 that the law was unconstitutional.
The United States is not the only place the group has been active. Before Belizes highest court struck down a law last year that banned carnal intercourse against the order of nature, the group sent activists there to work with local lawyers who were trying to keep the prohibition in place. In India, an Alliance Defending Freedom-affiliated lawyer was part of the legal team that has defended a similar law in the countrys Supreme Court. That law remains in place, though the Indian court*recently signaled*that it may revisit the issue.
And when*Russia approved*a law in 2013 that imposed a fine for what it called propagandizing nontraditional sexual relationships among minors a move that led for calls to boycott the 2014 Olympics there Alliance Defending Freedom produced a*nine-page memo*in support of the law, saying its aim was to safeguard the psychological or physical well-being of minors.
Mr. Tedesco said the group had never supported the criminalization of homosexual activity. In Belize and India, he noted, the laws the group supported applied to heterosexual sodomy as well. He described the alliances involvement in both countries as a small group of attorneys who wanted to resist the foreign activists that were trying to challenge their public health law.
Asked if he and other alliance lawyers believed gay men and lesbians were immoral, Mr. Tedesco said, Im not going to get into what the Bible says or teaches about homosexuality.
Alliance leaders have not always been so reticent.
Alan Sears, one of the founders of the group and its longtime president until recently, wrote a*book*in 2003 with Craig Osten titled The Homosexual Agenda in which they described possible consequences of same-sex marriage. Why not two men and three women, or two men, one woman, and a dog and a chimpanzee? the book said. This means marriage will be no better than anonymous sodomy in a bathhouse.
How the alliance is approaching the case of the Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, is an illustration of its evolving public relations strategy. Gone are the fiery denunciations of gay men and lesbians as sinners and reprobates.
I think these people are active in Sweden too. They were trying to help some nurse who refused to perform abortions. They lost the case in the Swedish courts and are now trying their luck in the ECHR.
via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2zvwOM5