Randy Krehbiel: Lankford says anti-LGBT organization is exercising First Amendment rights – Tulsa World (blog)

Posted: August 1, 2017 at 5:54 pm

U.S. Sen. James Lankford inserted himself on Monday into a squabble between a conservative legal advocacy group and ABC News.

In a letter to ABC News President James Goldston, Lankford lodges his displeasure with a July 12 on-line story that quotes the Southern Policy Law Center's description of the Alliance Defending Freedom as an "anti-LGBT hate group."

Lankford says the story "classified a religious liberty non-profit, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), as a hate group using a standard set by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). I found it odd that ABC would designate ADF as a hate group not based on any actual crime or action, but apparently based on their belief in religious liberty or traditional marriage."

Many people, especially conservatives, object to groups like the alliance being classified with with neo-Nazis and reconstituted versions of the Ku Klux Klan as hate groups. Lankford's staff said the majority of ADF's cases are not related to LGBT issues.

The ADF has been very open in its disdain for non-traditional sexual identification, and it's desire to overturn same-sex marriage. Lankford asserts that is the organization's First Amendment right as a matter of religious freedom and free speech.

Its attorneys have spoken about the "deification of deviant sexual practices" and "made-up sexual identity. For awhile, a web site affiliated with ADF said its goal was to "restore the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries."

Lankford says that doesn't qualify as hate speech and that ABC shouldn't have given credence to SPLC's designation of it as such.

"SPLCs definition of a 'hate group' is overly broad and not based in fact or legal accuracy," Lankford writes. "The Alliance Defending Freedom is a national and reputable law firm that works to advocate for the rights of people to peacefully and freely speak, live and work according to their faith and conscience without threat of government punishment."

At issue in the ABC story was a closed-door speech to the group by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the Justice Department's refusal to release information about it.

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Randy Krehbiel: Lankford says anti-LGBT organization is exercising First Amendment rights - Tulsa World (blog)

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