While the Department of Justice refused to release a copy of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ speech to the hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, conservative outlet The Federalist just published a copy of the speech as written for delivery.
In the speech, Sessions assured the anti-LGBT group that he would make defending “religious freedom” a top priority of the department and promised his office would issue new guidelines on the subject soon.
“Since he was elected, President Trump has been an unwavering defender of religious liberty. He has promised that under a Trump Administration, ‘the federal government will never, ever penalize any person for their protected religious beliefs.’ And he is fulfilling that promise. First, President Trump appointed an outstanding Supreme Court justice with a track record of applying the law as written, Neil Gorsuch. I have confidence that he will be faithful to the full meaning of the First Amendment and protect the rights of all Americans,” Sessions told the approximately 250 people in the room.
“The president has also directed me to issue guidance on how to apply federal religious liberty protections. The department is finalizing this guidance, and I will soon issue it.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom believes that allowing transgender students to use the correct bathroom goes against their “religious freedom” as does requiring businesses to follow civil rights laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity. The group represented infamous Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of federal and state laws.
The group will be arguing in front of the Supreme Court next year that an anti-gay baker should have the right to discriminate against a gay couple who wants a wedding cake despite the fact that the business is open to the general public.
In the most ironic section of the speech, Sessions praised Thomas Jefferson, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Martin Luther King, Jr., claiming the three men stood for religious freedom.
In reality, Jefferson insisted that clergy used religion as a “mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves” and that “in every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.” Tocqueville was a strong supporter of keeping a separation between church and state out of fear that a small group of religious fanatics would seize control of the government. King fought specifically against supposed “Christians” who tried to prevent African-Americans from gaining and exercising their civil rights – like the right to public accommodations.
Sessions, who has always been hostile to LGBT rights and rescinded the Obama-era guidance for how to treat transgender students with respect, has proven once again that he’s an adamant foe of civil rights. As with most high-level Trump appointees, the fox is guarding the hen house.
“You can judge a person by the company they keep and tonight – Attorney General Jeff Sessions is choosing to spend his time speaking in front of one of the country’s leading anti-LGBTQ hate groups,” Joel Kasnetz, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement issued on the night Sessions spoke. “The Alliance Defending Freedom actively helped draft discriminatory legislation, worked to preserve laws criminalizing same-sex relations, and attacked the separation of church and state. ADF has been previously designated a hate group and Sessions’ appearance at this event, as the top law enforcement official in the country, brings into question whether the attorney general intends to protect all Americans.”
And now we know. The answer is no.