This week a new billboard went up in Times Square, that
“NO GAYS ALLOWED.
STOP Alliance Defending Freedom. Learn more at NoGays.org.”
It’s part of a new campaign that aims to draw attention to the conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, which has been labeled an anti-LGBTQ “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
ADF has been linked to efforts seeking to criminalize homosexuality for over 25 years. They seek to restrict transgender people’s access to sex-segregated facilities and permit businesses to deny service to LGBTQ people.
Caleb Cade, a spokesman for Citizens for Transparency, the advocacy group behind the campaign, said the powerful nonprofit law group has fought for years to undermine lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights, often behind the scenes. Cade told NBC News.
“We want to remind people that there are still really insidious forces at work against our community,” “ADF has been leading that war for a long time, with tens of millions of dollars to do it.”
The billboard is expected to remain through February, directs viewers to the campaign’s website, which shows ADF’s work and links to news articles about its efforts to
“make LGBT people second-class citizens.”
In response to the campaign, ADF’s senior counsel, Jeremy Tedesco, clapped back at Citizens for Transparency, calling it
“an anonymous group that simply copies and pastes false claims” of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“ADF is one the nation’s most respected and successful Supreme Court advocates, working to preserve our fundamental freedoms of speech, religion and conscience,. ADF is not litigating any cases, pursuing any legislation, nor supporting the passage of any laws domestically or internationally that criminalize sodomy.”
Even with such “extreme” views, ADF has not been shunned, in fact, former AG Jeff Sessions spoke at an ADF event this summer. In the speech, he thanked the group
“on behalf of the president” for its “work and commitment to religious freedom.”
He also defended the organization against the Souther Poverty Law Center’s “hate group” label.
“You and I may not agree on everything — but I wanted to come back here tonight partly because I wanted to say this: You are not a hate group.”
In one of its most recent and high-profile cases, ADF successfully argued a Supreme Court case on behalf of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding because he said it would violate his religious beliefs. (Btw, that baker now has an openly gay governor, in Jared Polis. Karma? Maybe. Mostly getting out the vote.)
Christine Quinn, the former speaker of the New York City Council, an out lesbian, told NBC News she hopes the billboard and broader campaign will spur awareness around ADF’s efforts to curtail LGBTQ rights and the challenges the community still faces.
“It’s going to lead people to ask questions. And that’s really important, to start a conversation, and to have that conversation be in response to this billboard, not the messaging of the ADF.”
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REPOST + READ @theadvocatemag There’s a #NoGaysAllowed sign in #TimesSquare! The billboard is actually intended to shock and to call attention the anti-#LGBTQ machinations of the far-right Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom, which was behind the #MasterpieceCakeshop case. Read more at Advocate.com or in bio link. (📷: @throwing_cade)