Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday delivered a speech to the religious freedom group that is representing a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in 2012.
Sessions’ attendance at the closed-press Alliance Defending Freedom‘s (ADF) Summit on Religious Liberty in Orange County, Calif. is drawing criticism as advocacy groups and Democrats across the country are questioning why the leader of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed to speak at the ADF group at all.
Founded by Dr. Bill Bright, ADF is best known for supporting socially conservative causes and advocating on behalf of religious freedom. Recently, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case in which ADF is representing Colorado baker Jim Phillips. Phillips made national headlines in 2012 when he refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple. He is now challenging Colorado’s nondiscrimination law, saying he should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples due to his religious beliefs.
A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) criticized Sessions’ decision to speak to the group.
“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,” Joel Kasnetz said. “Sessions’ appearance at this event, as the top law enforcement official in the country, brings into question whether the attorney general intends to protect all Americans.”
“ADF has been extremely active in pushing for so-called ‘religious liberty’ laws around the country that allow Christians to discriminate against LGBT people,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center who in 2016 designated the ADF as a hate-group, on their website.
“The nation’s top lawyer rallying with an anti-LGBTQ hate group? Outrageous,” the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a civil rights group promoting LGBTQ equality, said in a blog post Wednesday.