CNN anchor Chris Cuomo highlighted the extreme anti-LGBT history of the legal organization that helped write an Arizona bill that would allow individuals and businesses to refuse to serve gay people on religious grounds, noting the group's record of opposing LGBT equality under the guise of protecting religious liberty.
As the Religion News Service noted on February 21, the principal drafters of the Arizona anti-gay segregation measure were the right-wing Center for Arizona Policy and the Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Spokespersons from both organizations have commented publicly on the bill, but media coverage has featured scant attention to the strident anti-LGBT positions taken by ADF in particular.
But in an interview with ADF attorney Kellie Fiedorek on the February 24 edition of New Day, Cuomo refused to let ADF escape scrutiny. Like other supporters of the measure, Fiedorek dodged uncomfortable questions about whether the bill would allow businesses to discriminate against gay customers.
But when Fiedorek compared requiring businesses to serve gay customers to asking a Muslim to participate in a burning of the Koran or an African-American to photograph a KKK rally, Cuomo pushed back, noting the ADF's record of defending anti-gay discrimination:
CUOMO: It allows people to not do business with gays, is what it allows. Your organization has a history of trying to hedge the ability to deal with gay marriage and gay rights in the country. All somebody has to do is, you know, Google your organization. So let's just be open and honest about it.
A look at ADF's record supports Cuomo's characterization.
In its earlier incarnation as the Alliance Defense Fund, ADF filed a brief supporting anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws criminalizing gay sex. The organization has defended state bans on marriage equality and represented business owners who refused to serve gay couples. ADF has also opposed anti-bullying efforts in public schools and declared that a gay-inclusive Boy Scouts of America would be an assault on religious liberty.
Internationally, ADF has defended a Belize law that imposes a 10-year sentence for gay sex, applauded India's recent Supreme Court ruling reinstating the country's ban on gay sex, and dispatched its chief counsel to meet with the legislative leader behind Russia's anti-gay crackdown.
Cuomo's decision to hold the ADF accountable for its history of anti-gay extremism is a praise-worthy but rare occurrence in mainstream media. As important as it is to debunk right-wing talking points about these anti-gay segregation laws, it's equally important to make sure that the public understand what kinds of extremist organizations are working to enact these laws across the country.