Michael Farris, the president and CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), recently penned a column for New York Daily News in which he criticized openly lesbian former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for helping post a Times Square billboard highlighting the ADF’s anti-LGBTQ agenda.
The billboard directed people to NoGays.org, a website mentioning that ADF is a legal group designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The ADF regularly takes on court cases representing clients who discriminate against LGBTQ folks. The ADF supports the criminalization of sodomy, Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, harmful “ex-gay” therapy and the right of Christians to fire or refuse service to LGBTQ people.
In his column, Farris wrote, “Branding the other side of an issue with the culturally toxic ‘hater’ label isn’t exactly the best way to reach across the aisle…. While Quinn says the ad aims to generate conversation, you wouldn’t know it to look at the billboard itself.”
Farris said NoGays.org’s “primary allegation — that ADF holds ‘extreme, out-of-touch and dangerous views’ and is ‘trying to force those views on others’ — couldn’t be further from the truth.”
He then misled readers about the ADF’s client the Masterpiece Cakeshop. You may recall, the cake shop narrowly won a US Supreme Court battle after refusing to sell a wedding cake to a male same-sex couple in 2012.
Farris says, “LGBT customers are more than welcome at Masterpiece Cakeshop, for example. The shop’s owner, Jack Phillips — an ADF client — serves everyone, but there are certain messages he won’t express through his custom artwork.”
But the gay couple in question hadn’t requested any specific design, decoration or message for the cake before Phillips refused to serve them. Thus, the couple argued that Phillips refused to serve them purely on the basis of their sexual orientation rather than over any message they wanted on the cake.
Farris continues, “Groups like Citizens for Transparency and the SPLC gloss over the obvious differences between disagreement and discrimination. Rather than seek to understand the other side of a conversation, the SPLC vilifies any person or group with whom it disagrees.”
But Farris’ column is really just a public relations move to characterize the ADF as champions of free speech and religious freedom without mentioning all the anti-LGBTQ work they’ve actually done.
The ADF wrote the original language for discriminatory same-sex marriage bans in Idaho (2005), Colorado (2006), and South Carolina (2006). They’ve sued cities and states for passing LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination laws and ordinances.
They’re also the force behind US President Donald Trump’s “Religious Liberty Task Force” at the Justice Department, a group created to stop the “dangerous movement, undetected by many” which erode religious freedom. But considering the ADF’s view of “religious freedom,” it’s obvious that they don’t have LGBTQ rights in mind within their religious worldview.