Attorney General Addressing Lawyers Representing Christian Baker Whose Case Is Before the Supreme Court
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions Tuesday evening will address an anti-gay hate group at a private, closed to the public function, and the Dept. of Justice is refusing to explain why. Worse, the group, Alliance Defending Freedom, is involved in a Supreme Court same-sex marriage case, leaving open the very real question of why would the Attorney General allow such an appearance of impropriety? That case, a highly-anticipated one brought by Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cake Shop, will decide if people of faith can use their religion as a license to discriminate against gay people and same-sex couples.
Buzzfeed's Dominic Holden first reported the event, via Twitter:
JUST IN: AG Sessions will speak at summit for group behind Christian baker who refused a wedding cake to gay couple. Case heading to SCOTUS. pic.twitter.com/XgsBClHVNB— Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) July 11, 2017
Holden also notes he reached out to the DOJ, which refused to comment on why Sessions was speaking to the ADF. More importantly, he asked, "if it signaled [a] new DOJ position in court."
"Decline comment," was the DOJ's response, Holden says.
Right Wing Watch's Peter Montgomery reports tonight's event is the ADF's Summit on Religious Liberty in Orange County, California. He notes the ADF "is the largest of the Religious Right legal groups, engaging in culture war battles against LGBTQ equality and reproductive choice in the U.S. and increasingly around the globe. So why would the address of the attorney general to ADF, a group not normally shy about taking credit for its work, be closed to the media?" he asks.
Meanwhile, the DNC has issued a scathing statement on Sessions' speech tonight.
"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," an email from the DNC reads.
"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 in to question whether the attorney general intends to protect all Americans."
It's a valid question.
Sessions from the beginning of his tenure as Attorney General has made clear he has little intention to protect the most vulnerable of Americans, our children. In a joint decision with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, he chose to rescind the Obama-era guidelines protecting the civil rights of transgender students.
Education Week, in noting Sessions' speech tonight, Tuesday elaborated on his decision to rescind the transgender guidelines, and ADF's reaction at the time.
"The Trump administration's move won praise from Alliance Defending Freedom, which said that President Obama left schools with 'an impossible choice: sacrifice the dignity and privacy rights of their students by opening overnight facilities, locker rooms, and restrooms to the opposite sex; or protect those rights while watching the government strip away federal funding that schools spend on critical items like special-education programs and lunches for underprivileged children.'"
"By overturning the prior administration's power grab, President Trump has enabled local school boards once again to protect the dignity and privacy rights of all their students," the group said in a statement at the time.
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