HERO's Arch-Nemesis, the Alliance Defending Freedom

HERO's Arch-Nemesis, the Alliance Defending Freedom
Photo by Aaron Reiss

It's no coincidence that the City of Houston, Mayor Annise Parker, City Attorney David Feldman and company asked for any communication between the five local pastors and Alliance Defending Freedom (other parts of the subpoena were likely ill-advised, but that's neither here nor there) when they sent out that controversial subpoena that has been getting so much attention. After all, the ADF is a religious right organization dedicated to opposing LGBT rights the way the rest of us are dedicated to breathing and love of the Beatles, so if ADF lawyers have been advising local pastors on how to repeal HERO, that would certainly be worth knowing.

But what exactly is the ADF? The organization, formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, was created in 1994 by group of high-profile activists from the religious right, including including James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ.

The group operates with a budget of more than $30 million, an army of more than 2,000 lawyers who adhere to ADF principles, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. They specialize in legal work where they believe that religious freedom is being violated, though of course "religious freedom" only entails the views of those who agree with ADF. Basically these people see themselves as the anti-ACLU, a group that they contend has been working to promote "an anti-Christian, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual agenda on the Body of Christ in Europe, Canada, Latin America, and elsewhere," according to the ADF website.

Meanwhile, ADF's (renamed Alliance Defending Freedom in 2012) legal fingerprints have been all over almost every piece of anti-gay marriage legislation and every related court case in the last 20 years. ADF filed an amicus brief with U.S. Supreme Court defending anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas. They supposedly had a hand developing the controversial Arizona law SB 1062, which would have essentially done the exact opposite of HERO by making it legal for people to discriminate against LGBT people in shops, restaurants and businesses.

ADF has also been developing an international presence. Somehow the group wrangled consulting status at the United Nations back in 2010. When one country passed a law banning all LGBT advocacy, along with a 10-year prison sentence for violators of that law, ADF celebrated the move. ADF lawyers have even been involved defending the constitutionality of a law in Belize that would criminalize gay sex.

(As a side note, these guys think that both abortion and sex education should never happen. Because children will only have sex once married and then it will definitely be a hetero thing because ADF is doing it's best to "take care of" the same-sex option. Sure. That's totally how the world works.)

Lest you think ADF interests are still too narrow, they also care about bullying, i.e. they developed an "Anti-Bullying Yardstick" in 2012 (thankfully it isn't an actual stick) that allows schools "to evaluate several legal aspects of a school's proposed or existing policies, including whether a policy protects all students from bullying or only a select few favored by activist groups advancing a homosexual agenda." Or to translate: These are the people that defend the bullies if said bullies happen to be bullying LGBT folks.

And now they're the ones defending attempts to jettison Houston's anti-discrimination law. ADF lawyers have already filed a motion to quash the city's (admittedly problematic) subpoenas. Meanwhile the organization is busy railing against the whole thing and describing HERO as a law that would (good heavens) allow members of the opposite sex to use each others restrooms, in the name of 'prohibiting discrimination.'" It's a summary of the law that drops the issue of anti-discrimination into a toilet, just like prohibiting gay marriage protects their freedom, allowing discrimination in businesses and restaurants protects their rights and protecting school bullies shuts down the "homosexual agenda" entirely. We do have to hand it to them on one point: They certainly are consistent.


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