Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom Brings Anti-Equality Former Australian P.M. Tony Abbott To US, To Plot Comeback With Rupert Murdoch?

The Alliance Defending Freedom, the huge Religious Right legal group that has been expanding its anti-gay, anti-choice work around the globe, is bringing former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the U.S. this week for a secretive meeting in New York, where he will talk about “the importance of family.” ADF, a sponsor of the World Congress of Families, sent an official to Australia last year to address the national conference of the Australian Christian Lobby.

Nick O’Malley, U.S. correspondent for Fairfax Media, asked ADF about Abbott’s visit:

A spokesman for the group told Fairfax Media in a statement that Mr. Abbott, who has “been a strong advocate for marriage and freedom throughout his career,” had “graciously agreed to address our private event.”

But the spokesman declined to explain the nature of the event, say where or when it was to be held, or say if Mr. Abbott was being paid for his attendance.

As prime minister, Abbott stubbornly blocked efforts to move marriage equality legislation forward. Australian media has reported that Abbott, who has announced his intention to run again in 2016, will be meeting with right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch while he is in New York. Abbott was removed from his post after members of his own party replaced him with a more moderate rival who supports marriage equality.

Last year, investigative reporters Sofia Resnick and Sharona Coutts of RH Reality Check noted  that the website for ADF’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship stated that the  “Alliance Defending Freedom seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th and 5th century” — ah, the good old days.  Robert George, intellectual leader of the anti-gay Religious Right, is on the fellowship’s advisory board.

 

We Read Rafael Cruz's Book So You Don't Have To

Rafael Cruz, father of senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz, has become a folk hero in his own right among Religious Right activists as he has barnstormed the country railing against Barack Obama, gay rights activists, and other favored enemies of the far right — and promoting his son’s presidential candidacy. Rafael’s new book, “A Time for Action: Empowering the Faithful to Reclaim America,” will be officially released by WND Books in January, but we at RWW have saved you the time, money and aggravation by reading it for you. Happy New Year!

If you’ve watched Rafael Cruz or his son at all, there’s not much new or surprising in Rafael’s book. It is essentially a book-length pitch for his son’s candidacy, beginning with a gushing foreword from Glenn Beck — “Rafael Cruz is one of the greatest freedom fighters of his generation” and “Ted Cruz will do anything to protect and preserve freedom” — to an epilogue from Ted Cruz, which reads like a reprint of his presidential campaign’s stump speech. Rafael says in the book that he has known since Ted was a young boy that he had “a special calling on his life.”

Rafael is not shy in his political pronouncements. The Democratic Party “promotes an ungodly socialist agenda that is destroying America,” he declares. “And unfortunately, there are those in the Republican Party who aren’t much different.” That is why, he says, it is even more important to vote in primary elections than in the general election, because the primary “gives you the opportunity to select the candidates that best align with biblical and constitutional principles.” Rafael, and Ted in his campaign-speech epilogue, repeat their assertion that 54 million evangelical voters stayed home on Election Day 2012 and that getting more of them to vote is the key to putting the government back in the hands of a “righteous” president.

In between Glenn Beck and Ted Cruz, the book is part memoir of Rafael’s possibly embroidered past as a freedom-fighter against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista and part evangelical religious tract. This is supplemented by plenty of recycled Christian-nation historical claims made by GOP activist David Barton, the often discredited “historian” who is currently running a pro-Ted Cruz super PAC. Barton and his Christian-nation history are repeatedly cited by Rafael, who writes:

I believe without a shadow of a doubt that the reason the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States have lasted over two centuries is that they were divinely inspired and then written by men who had spent time on their knees. These were men of God seeking revelation from God, and that’s what He gave them. Of course, these two documents aren’t equivalent to the Word of God, but God certainly directed the men who crafted them.

Also cited in “A Time for Action” is Christian-nation advocate and political strategist David Lane, who is trying to mobilize an army of conservative pastors to run for office, which he hopes will in turn bring out conservative evangelical volunteers and voters. Lane has also been, with FRC’s Tony Perkins, a major promoter of the effort to get Religious Right leaders to unite around a single candidate — a step taken earlier this month when dozens of them voted in a secret endorsement meeting to back Ted Cruz.

Rafael talks about the dangers of secular humanism and makes a glancing reference to Seven Mountains dominionism, the belief that conservative Christians must gain control over the "seven mountains" of American culture.

In no way, shape, or form was Jefferson implying that the church should be restricted from exerting an influence upon society. On the contrary, the Bible tells us that we are the salt of the earth and light of the world…Doesn’t that suggest that our influence should touch every area of society – our families, the media, sports, arts and entertainment, education, business, and government?”

Like Barton and Lane, Rafael makes his case for the Christian nature of the U.S. government by conflating the Pilgrims and Puritans with the founding fathers who gave us the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution more than 150 years later. Rafael declares that “the concept of separation of church and state is found nowhere in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States of America,” which leads into this:

To understand this clearly, we need to go back four centuries to the time of the first settlers in America. If you lived in England in the early 1600s and were not a member of the Church of England, you would be considered a heretic and subject to persecution. So the early settlers immigrated to the New World in order to freely worship the Lord their God. What a remarkable heritage of religious freedom this exceptional country gives us! The only country on the face of the earth founded on the World of God!

As this new constitutional representative republic stretched its wings following the Revolutionary War, citizens of the thirteen colonies wondered if their new government would impose a state religion upon them like the one their forefathers suffered in England…

That is followed by a discussion of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, ending with the Bartonesque conclusion that Jefferson’s wall of separation image “was only referring to a one-way wall.

Rafael’s writing on Cuba is similarly incomplete. He describes the explosion that sank the U.S. Maine in Havana harbor in 1898 as “an unprovoked attack” without any indication that many historians now believe the ship’s boiler exploded and that the “unprovoked attack” story was simply cover for the U.S. to declare war on Spain and bring Cuba under U.S. control. Rafael suggests without offering any evidence that President Obama’s unsuccessful efforts to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay suggest that Obama is “complicit” with Raúl Castro’s demands that the U.S. return the military base itself to Cuban control.

“A Time to Act” includes plenty of familiar Religious Right claims: that Supreme Court rulings on state-sponsored prayer and Bible readings in public schools have contributed to America’s downward slide, along with legal abortion and the “redefinition” of traditional marriage.

The book is also full of the hyperbolic rhetoric you’d expect from Rafael Cruz and World Net Daily, the far-right news outlet that serves as his publisher. Jimmy Carter’s policies were “reminiscent of the bearded dictator I had left behind in Cuba” and Obama taking executive action on immigration in the face of congressional inaction “doesn’t sound much different from the old, bearded dictator I left behind in Cuba almost sixty years ago — governing by decree, by fiat, just like Fidel Castro.”

There’s more: America today “is tragically following the same path that Cuba did a half century ago.” The Obama administration has “intensified our progression into an age of lawlessness.” The Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran will make it “quite literally, the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.” The Supreme Court’s “lawless” and “preposterous” marriage equality decision is “one of the biggest signs of our country’s moral degradation.” The federal government “mandates that teachers affirm alternative, nonbiblical lifestyles, teach evolution as incontrovertible ‘fact,’ and mock the notion that God created the heavens and earth.” Common Core is a means for educational elites to “brainwash our students through federally mandated curriculum that extols socialism, globalism, and immorality from a secular humanist worldview.”

Like countless speeches at Religious Right political gatherings, Rafael Cruz places much of the blame for America’s sad state of affairs on pastors who aren’t being aggressive enough in preaching politics from the pulpit. “The time has come,” he writes, “for pastors to again fearlessly preach toward the political landscape, just like their predecessors centuries ago. If they don’t, Satan will rule without opposition in our halls of legislation.”

It is interesting to read the extent to which Ted Cruz is a product of careful grooming since childhood by his father and by far-right organizations. Rafael was active in the Religious Roundtable’s efforts to elect Ronald Reagan, and Ted, then nine years old, heard plenty of dinner conversations about the importance of getting rid of Jimmy Carter and replacing him with Ronald Reagan. Says Rafael, “My son received a dose of constitutionally conservative politics from a biblical worldview every day for a year when he was just nine!” As a kid, Rafael’s friends introduced Ted to the founder of the Free Enterprise Institute and began inculcating him in the teachings of people like Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Ted was part of a group of five high school students that the Institute sent around Texas giving speeches on free-market economics and the Constitution.

“A Time for Action” also includes a few appendices. One helpfully explains how U.S. government policies — such as progressive income taxes, net neutrality, Amtrak subsidies and the auto industry “bailout” — align with the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto. Also included, courtesy of David Barton’s Wallbuilders, the letter of the Danbury Baptists to Thomas Jefferson and his response; a sermon preached by colonial pastor Jonas Clark before the battle of Lexington and his account of the battles of Lexington and Concord; and recommended resources, which include Ted Cruz’s “A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America” as well as books by conservative economists and a few Religious Right organizations, including the Alliance Defending Freedom, David Lane’s American Renewal Project, Wallbuilders, and, of course, WND. Earlier in the book, Cruz promotes other Religious Right groups that produce voter guides or voting records, including Vision America, Liberty Counsel, Liberty Institute, Eagle Forum and Concerned Women for America.

Right Wing Round-Up - 11/5/15

  • PFAW: Over 25,000 Call on Cruz, Huckabee, Jindal & GOP to Renounce Kevin Swanson.
  • Alex Griswold @ Mediaite: CNN Investigates Ben Carson’s Stories of Childhood Violence, Finds No Evidence.
  • Tierney Sneed @ TPM: Ben Carson: Archaeologists Are Wrong, The Pyramids Were Built To Store Grain.
  • Eric W. Dolan @ Raw Story: Ben Carson: Humans walked on the moon because America was founded on God.
  • Rachel Percelay @ Media Matters: A "Religious Freedom" Legal Powerhouse Is Leading The National Fight Against Transgender Student Rights.

New Anti-Gay Initiatives In Europe Backed By American Religious Right

We wrote last week about the resurgent anti-LGBT, anti-contraception and anti-reproductive choice Religious Right political movement in Europe and their mutually supportive relationships with their American counterparts – part of an increasingly global culture war targeting LGBT people and reproductive health. As conservative culture warriors from around the world arrive in Salt Lake City for the World Congress of Families, there’s new evidence of this trans-Atlantic cooperation.

A group of European activists has submitted a proposed initiative under the European citizens’ initiative process to define “family” in European Union law. Marriage would be defined as a union between a man and a woman, and family would be based on marriage and/or descent.

The effort, being organized as the “Mum, Dad & Kids” initiative, includes this nugget in its legislative language, following a recitation of references to family in international agreements and familiar assertions that families are not about the feeling between adults but the relationship between parents and children:

It therefore appears adequate and reasonable to provide a specific legal status with specific protections to the union between a man and a woman; It appears equally adequate and reasonable that an equal status and equal protections should not be provided to other life forms that are different in fact and purpose from marriage.

The proposal would allow member states to have more inclusive definitions of marriage within their borders, but they would not be recognized under European Union law, and other countries would not be required to recognize them.

More specifically, the Mum, Dad & Kids proposal would eliminate Article 2 (2) of a 2004 European Union directive on freedom of movement within member states, which includes as part of its definition of family member a person in a registered partnership relationship that one of the member states treats as the equivalent of marriage. Similarly, it would eliminate from a 2012 directive on support for victims of crime a definition of family members that includes “the spouse, the person who is living with the victim in a committed intimate relationship, in a joint household and on a stable and continuous basis, the relatives in direct line, the siblings and the dependents of the victim.”

It is worth noting here that the World Congress of Families says it would never support a policy that “brings harm to innocent individuals.”

The Citizens’ Committee proposing the Mum, Dad & Kids initiative includes people connected to the World Congress of Families and American Religious Right groups. Among the members of the committee are:

Hildingsson opposes promotion of “gender ideology” and opposed the marriage equality referendum in Ireland. Her group worked with a global coalition of conservative groups to oppose an inclusive definition of family in the United Nations during deliberations on sustainable development goals. This summer, she met with Orthodox Church leaders from Europe and Russia to strategize against efforts by the European Union that aim, in the words of a report on the meeting, “to destroy the traditional notions of marriage and family and to legalize surrogate motherhood and abortion."

  • Grégor Puppinck directs the European Centre for Law and Justice, an arm of the Pat Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice. He was president of One of Us, an anti-abortion citizens’ initiative campaign – essentially an effort to grant full legal personhood to an embryo -- that was ultimately rejected by the European Commission but was an effective organizing, social media, and list-building effort for its promoters, collecting 1.8 million signatures. The One of Us Federation is now planning its first European Forum in Paris in January 2016.
  • Roger Kiska has a trifecta of Religious Right associations: he got his law degree from the far-right Catholic Ave Maria School of Law, worked at the European affiliate of the American Center for Law and Justice, and now serves in Vienna as senior counsel and deputy director of ADF International – the global arm of the U.S. based Religious Right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.
  • Ludovine de La Rochère, president of La Manif Pour Tous, the group that organized massive anti-marriage-equality rallies in France and has inspired anti-gay activists in Europe and Russia. Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage has worked closely with La Manif Pour Tous.
  • Edit Frivaldszky led efforts in Hungary for the One of Us initiative, and now directs the Human Dignity center, a non-profit organization for the protection of family and life.” She has been promoting a CitizenGo petition against sex education under the banner of stopping the spread of “gender ideology”— the European right-wing umbrella term for sexual and reproductive health and rights.

World Congress of Families Culture Warriors Battle Repro, LGBT Rights In Europe With Help From US Friends

This is one in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families gathering in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read our introduction to the World Congress of Families here.

Americans have long viewed Europe as a stronghold of progressive social policies. But as BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder reported last year, there is a resurgent Religious Right political movement in Europe whose advocates draw moral, strategic, and financial support from their allies in the United States, including the American Center for Law and Justice, Alliance Defending Freedom and Personhood USA.

In Europe the culture war is taking the form of attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights — even sex education — or what conservative Catholics and their allies collectively deride as “gender ideology.” Right-wing groups are active at the European Union, Council of Europe, European Parliament and other international institutions. The ACLJ’s European branch led the signature drive for the “One of Us” campaign — an anti-abortion effort that used a new European Citizens Initiative process. The initiative was rejected but the organizing that went into it has energized anti-choice activists — the Knights of Columbus called it “the revitalization of Europe.”The World Congress of Families facilitates this reactionary cross-fertilization with conservative groups from around the world.

Earlier this year, the Croatia-based Center for Education, Counseling and Research (CESI) released a report on the growing threats to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the European Union which also documented global connections among conservative groups and activists.  Also this year, voters in Slovakia passed a referendum to put a ban on marriage by same-sex couples in the country’s constitution, an effort supported by American groups including the WCF, Alliance Defending Freedom, CitizenGo, Personhood USA, and the World Congress of Families. Several years ago, many of the same people signed a petition supporting Romania’s constitutional amendment on marriage, which stated that “equating same-sex couples with families can only weaken the natural family — which does society’s vital work of procreation and childrearing.”

The World Congress of Families meeting in Salt Lake City next week features a number of speakers who are intimately involved in this push to restrict access to abortion and prevent advances in LGBT equality.

As we noted in an earlier post, WCF will honor Luca Giuseppe Volonté of Italy’s Novae Terrae Foundation and Andrea Williams of UK’s Christian Concern. Williams, who allies with Alliance Defending Freedom, has encouraged Jamaica to continue criminalizing same-sex intimacy. Volonté, who is affiliated with a variety of right-wing groups, says conservatives in Europe are resisting marriage equality because they experience it as a “totalitarian” ideology.

Another speaker is Ignacio Arsuaga, the founder of CitizenGo and HazteOír, groups designed to bring online organizing techniques to European culture-war conservatives.  HazteOír made a name for itself mobilizing protesters against liberalized abortion legislation in Spain in 2010, and hosted the 2012 World Congress of Families in Madrid. In 2013 his group bused supporters into France to support anti-marriage-equality protests there.

Arsuaga’s CitizenGo is affiliated with ActRight, created by Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage. Brown joined CitizenGo’s board in 2013.  Brown has backed anti-gay efforts in France and Russia and participated in events designed to strengthen ties between Europe’s right-wing and Putin’s Russia. As BuzzFeed’s Feder reported last year,

Arsuaga, Volontè, and La Manif Pour Tous President Ludovine de La Rochère were all in Washington on June 19 to support the National Organization for Marriage’s March for Marriage. Their more important business, however, might have been in a closed-door summit the next day, where representatives of around 70 countries met to discuss creation of an International Organization for Marriage, according to Volontè and another participant. 

Also participating in the Salt Lake City WCF will be Lech and Ewa Kowalewski, anti-abortion activists affiliated with Human Life International and the Polish Federation of Pro-Life Movements. They denounce the “contraceptive mentality” — for them even “natural contraception” is a contradiction because “contraception is never natural.” In 2014 they toured the U.S. as part of a worldwide “pro-life pilgrimage.”  They were on the International Planning Committee for World Congress of Families VI in Madrid.

Another participant is Maria Hildingsson, Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe, which the Catholic News Agency said last year is “the only independent organization clearly registered in the EU as Catholic.” It rejects “an individualistic conception” of human rights that is says are supported by “hegemonic powers which tend to impose their partial views on developing countries within the international economic and political arena.”

Hildingsson opposes promotion of “gender ideology” and opposed the marriage equality referendum in Ireland. Her group worked with a global coalition of conservative groups to oppose an inclusive definition of family in the United Nations during deliberations on sustainable development goals. This summer, she met with Orthodox Church leaders from Europe and Russia to strategize against efforts by the European Union that aim, in the words of a report on the meeting, “to destroy the traditional notions of marriage and family and to legalize surrogate motherhood and abortion.”

Another speaker, Silvio Dalla Valle, works with the Association for the Defense of Christian Values, which is “inspired by the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church” and works in Italy and Eastern Europe.  He was on the planning committee for Moscow meeting that took place last year without the formal sponsorship of WCF but with participation by WCF staff and allies,and spoke last year at a WCF regional event in Bolivia. Dalla Valle is a co-founder of and legal adviser to the Osservatorio della Cristianofobia (Observatory on “Christianphobia”) a project to lobby the United Nations and European institutions to take a strong stance against persecution and discrimination against Christians. He received a “Global Leadership Award” from the Howard Center, the World Congress of Families’ parent organization, in 2010.

Lola Volarde, director for UN affairs at the Institute for Family Policy, is also participating. Volarde’s group promotes “natural family” policies in Latin America in addition to its work at the European Union level, and it opened its delegation to the UN in 2013. You can see Velarde speaking in Mexico last year.

Arsuaga, Velarde and Brian Brown are all on board of the Political Network for Values, a group launched last year that brings together advocates and elected officials from around the world to work for legal protection for life “from its moment of conception” and advocate for policies the promote marriage as “an institution between a man and a woman.” The group also declares its opposition to “the tyranny of relativism” and euthanasia.

Last month, the Political Network for Values held a summit in Washington, D.C. which was sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Institute for Family Policy, CitizenGo and others. The network says the regional summit “brought together in Washington DC more than 70 policy makers from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Spain, Hungary, Kenya and the United States.” The group was addressed by three members of the U.S. Congress, Jeff Fortenberry, Chris Smith and Vicky Hartzler, who talked about the “fight for religious freedom in the U.S.”

 

World Congress of Families In Denial Over Promoting Homophobia Globally

This is the second in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read our introduction to the World Congress of Families here.

The World Congress of Families has been stung by intense criticism over its promotion of anti-gay bias and policies around the world, and has mounted a public relations campaign portraying itself as interested in civil discourse and uninterested in slamming gay people. If only it were true.

WCF Executive Director Janet Shaw Crouse has said the group’s support for traditional notions of family “does not mean disrespect for anyone else.” Crouse says, “We do not and will not engage in ‘gay-bashing’ or ‘hate’ language." In its 2014 “Call for Civic Dialogue” WCF said:

In its history, the WCF has never taken a position for or against anti-sodomy laws, nor has it attempted to roll back the rights gained by these individuals and organizations…. The WCF never has and never will advocate for any policy that brings harm to innocent individuals….

These assertions are grossly disingenuous and deceptive. WCF depends on, and celebrates, its association with what it calls “exemplary” anti-gay groups like the Family Research Council, American Family Association, Alliance Defending Freedom, and many others who aggressively resist the advance of LGBT equality in the U.S. and overseas -- and promote policies that most definitely bring harm to innocent individuals. For example, WCF and its allies played a significant role in organizing the stridently anti-gay “pro-family” movement in Russia. And not taking a position on laws that subject LGBT people to long jail terms and worse is hardly something to brag about.  

WCF’s “civil dialogue” claim is laughable on its face, especially given that the group is providing a speaking platform to Rafael Cruz, who has no policy expertise to share but has gained folk-hero status on the Religious Right with outlandishly inflammatory attacks on LGBT people and other political opponents. Cruz, father to presidential candidate Ted Cruz, called it “appalling” that a gay woman could win elected office, said that Satan controls the U.S. government and that the devil was responsible for the with Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. He has repeatedly lied about religious freedom, claiming that the government will force churches to hire homosexual pastors and perform homosexual marriages. Cruz has suggested that President Obama is intent on seizing Americans’ guns because, like Stalin and Mao, Obama is pursuing a totalitarian government – and that the American left is out to do away with the entire Bill of Rights.

Sadly, Cruz is not an outlier. WCF and the speakers it provides with a platform have a long record of resisting protections for the rights of LGBT people. Last year WCF initiated a letter signed by 120 Religious Right figures from around the world in “vigorous protest” of the U.S. Embassy’s participation in a gay pride celebration in the Czech Republic. It refers to marriage equality as a “pseudo-right” that debases human freedom and dignity. The letter concludes, “We can not imagine a worse form of cultural imperialism than Washington trying to force approval of the ‘gay’ agenda on societies with traditional values.”

More to the point, WCF’s own Africa regional director, Theresa Okafor, who is being honored at the event, supported a harsh anti-gay law in Nigeria that not only provides for long jail sentences for gay sex, but also bans gay people from meeting in groups. Okafor has suggested that pro-equality groups from the west are allied with the violent Islamist Boko Haram in a conspiracy to silence Christians.

WCF Executive Director Crouse has her own track record. She has said children being raised by gay couples are being “used as guinea pigs.” She has praised Russia’s anti-gay right, saying approvingly, “I wouldn’t bet on the Russians capitulating to western LGBTIQ fascists without a fight.” At a 2013 Howard Center press conference, Crouse said American gay-rights activists are “turning into thugs who are destroying freedom of speech, destroying religious liberty.” She praised anti-gay activists in France, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, and Nigeria. And while Crouse portrays American gays as enemies of free speech, she enthusiastically backed the prosecution and jailing of Pussy Riot activists over their anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

Among other anti-gay speakers who will be given a platform at WCF:

  • Peter Sprigg represents the stridently anti-gay Family Research Council, whose leader Tony Perkins once defended Uganda’s notorious “kill the gays” bill as an effort to uphold morality. Sprigg, who once said he would like to “export” homosexuals from the U.S., complained this year about Randy Berry, Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, for traveling to Uganda and Jamaica. Sprigg criticized the Obama administration for trying to “force this American-style homosexual agenda down the throats of other countries” like Uganda, “which is one of the countries that has been most bitterly attacked by homosexual activists around the world.”
  • Robert Knight, a Religious Right pundit and former FRC staffer, has argued that judges who rule in favor of marriage equality should be impeached.
  • Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage has not only pushed for anti-equality legislation in the U.S., he has supported anti-gay efforts globally and encouraged legislators in Russia to pass legislation banning adoption by gay couples.
  • Errol Naidoo received training from the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C before founding the Family Policy Institute in South Africa in response to the legalization of marriage equality, which he had lobbied against. He blames abortion and “the homosexual agenda” for creating a “culture of death” that is “slowly killing off the human family in Western civilization.”
  • Glenn Stanton, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, has called marriage equality a “pernicious lie of Satan” and said that “quite literally there is more evidence for Bigfoot than there is that homosexuality is just who we are.”
  • Jennifer Roback Morse, president of the Ruth Institute, formerly affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage, says the “sexual revolution” is a “totalitarian” movement” and “a pagan ideology” that Christians should refuse to compromise with. She says “the only reason we’re dealing with gay marriage now is because we never faced up to the harms that have already been inflicted by feminism.”
  • Mark Regnerus: His New Family Structures Study, funded by the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute, has been widely discredited, but continues to be cited by right-wing as if it provided scientific evidence for harm caused by gay parenting. It was used extensively as justification for passage of anti-gay laws in Russia.
  • Frank Schubert is a political communications strategist notorious as the mastermind of the strategy to ground the campaign for California’s Prop 8 in fear-mongering about gay people and couples being a threat to children. Schubert was paid handsomely to take that destructive strategy to other states.

 

Religious Right Lawyer Debunks Religious Right's Favorite Talking Point On Gay Marriage

Anti-gay activists have claimed that the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down same-sex marriage bans in Obergefell v. Hodges will lead to a tidal wave of oppression and persecution — just as they did following the passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009. Struggling to find the “victims” of gay marriage, Religious Right activists have pointed to a small handful of wedding cake bakers or photographers who were sued after denying service to gay couples.

One of these bakers, Jack Phillips, recently lost his appeal after he was found to be in violation of Colorado’s nondiscrimination law. After the courts ruled against Phillips for a second time, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Fox News pundit Todd Starnes linked the ruling to the Obgerefell decision, even though the lawsuit against the baker was filed prior to Obgerefell and even before Colorado legalized same-sex marriage (the couple was married in Massachusetts).

Alliance Defending Freedom’s Nicolle Martin, who is representing Phillips, appeared yesterday on Perkins’ radio show, where she spoke to guest host Craig James, another FRC official, about the case. (When Martin spoke to Perkins about the case last year, Perkins speculated that it could be a forerunner to an anti-Christian holocaust, asking when the government would “start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians.”)

When James asked Martin if Phillips would have “prevailed if the Supreme Court had not redefined marriage,” the attorney flatly answered, “No.”

“This court used decisions that predated Obgerefell,” she said, adding, “Obgerefell has nothing to do with the First Amendment and the right of all Americans to live and work according to their conscience, it has nothing to do with the Free Exercise Clause, it does not affect those fundamental rights, the pre-eminent civil rights laws of our nation, it doesn’t affect those laws in anyway.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom attorney’s statement pretty much rebuts the Religious Right’s favorite talking point about how the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling “abolished” the First Amendment.

Religious Right Teams Up With Anti-Gay Governments at United Nations

American Religious Right groups are teaming up with anti-choice and anti-gay governments and organizations from around the world in order to prevent a new United Nations development proposal currently being negotiated from including language that might lead to some recognition of families headed by same-sex couples, a possibility the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM) describes as “tragic.” (C-FAM was formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.)

C-FAM’s “Friday Fax” warns:

Leftist governments, including the United States, are trying to convince the General Assembly to discard family language from the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights] and instead use phrases that critics consider to be ideologically freighted, specifically “all families” and “various forms of the family.” These types of phrases have been rejected in recent years but the Obama administration has made it a priority to have them used in this important development document.

C-FAM argues that language declaring that “the family is the natural and fundamental unit of society” must be kept in place to prevent Europeans and Americans from having any “wiggle room” to “promote same-sex relations as families through the UN system.”

C-FAM reports that a group of African and Arab nations are leading efforts to strip language about “all families” from the final draft of the “Post-2015 Summit outcome” by proposing language that “EXCLUDES any international recognition to relations between persons of the same-sex as a ‘family,’ as in the case of homosexual civil unions and so-called gay marriage.”

Among the Religious Right organizations fighting tooth and nail to prevent even a possibility that same-sex families might gain recognition at the UN are: C-FAM; National Organization for Marriage; Alliance Defending Freedom Global (ADF was formerly known as Alliance Defense Fund); Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society (sponsors of the World Congress of Families); Human Life International; Personhood USA; Christian Family Fellowship; Family Research Institute; and the American Center for Law & Justice’s European affiliate, ECLJ.

Hobby Lobby: One Year Later

This post is written by YP4 intern Christina Tudor.

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) recently released a report listing all the ways in which the year old Hobby Lobby decision has opened the door to allowing religious exemptions for all sorts of things. NWLC’s report “The Hobby Lobby ‘Minefield’: The Harm, Misuse, and Expansion of the Supreme Court Decision,” highlights how the decision has set the stage for perpetuating discrimination beyond limiting access to birth control and placing restrictions on coverage.

The distortion of “religious liberty” and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that informed the Hobby Lobby case has led to a paramedic student claiming his religious beliefs should exempt him from vaccination requirements and some religious groups refusing to provide health care services to sexually-abused refugees. It’s even been used as a defense to try to avoid criminal prosecution for a violent kidnapping.

One Supreme Court decision can do all that damage?

Seriously?

Unfortunately, yes.

As Justice Ginsburg warned in her dissent, “The Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

It turns out that she was very right.

According to NWLC’s report, in the last year, there have been “attempts to use RFRA to challenge laws that: protect women, LGBTQ individuals, and students from discrimination; protect employees by allowing them to unionize; promote public health by requiring vaccinations; and require pharmacies to fill lawful prescriptions.”

Distorting the true meaning of religious liberty, the Supreme Court ruled that employers and businesses can use RFRA to justify their incompliance with the ACA. In other words, this decision gives bosses the freedom and the power to discriminate against their employees, and this disproportionately impacts women and their families.

The Hobby Lobby ruling has an even greater impact on working class women and their access to affordable, readily available birth control and health care services that they are entitled to and need. Lack of birth control access can also greatly increase economic instability, therefore further increasing inequality.

Equally troubling are objections to D.C. anti-discrimination laws by The Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Alliance Defending Freedom, USCCB and eleven other organizations based upon the distortion of religious liberty.

Clearly Hobby Lobby will continue to have a serious impact on men and women across the country, especially women of color and low-income women, as more individuals and companies try to deny basic rights under the mantle of “religious accommodations.” 

PFAW Foundation

Albert Mohler at CNP: Freedom To Preach Gospel Threatened By 'Erotic Liberty'

The secretive Council for National Policy (CNP) and the Conservative Action Project, right-wing coalitions that are trying to figure out how to get conservative evangelicals united around one of the many GOP presidential candidates vying for their support, met outside Washington, D.C. late last week to vet the presidentials and strategize for 2016.

While most of what happens at CNP gatherings is kept behind closed doors, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) was happy to brag that its president, Albert Mohler, had received the 2015 Edwin Meese III Originalism and Religious Liberty Award from the Alliance Defending Freedom on Friday. The award was presented by ADF’s Alan Sears and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, identified by the SBTS as president of the CNP.

Meese, who played a major role in the rise of the Federalist Society and the right-wing school of constitutional interpretation known as “originalism”— colloquially referred to as “strict constructionism” — was on hand for the event.  According to the SBTS account, Meese said originalism and religious liberty “go hand-in-hand” and asserted that “religious liberty is under attack as never before” in America.

That was also the theme of Mohler’s remarks, which took their title, “The Gathering Storm: The Eclipse of Religious Liberty and the Threat of a New Dark Age,” from Winton Churchill’s account of the period leading up to the World War II. “We are not facing the same gathering storm,” Mohler declared, “but we are now facing a battle that will determine the destiny of priceless freedoms and the very foundation of human rights and human dignity.”

Other excerpts from Mohler’s speech:

A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom….

Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.

A new moral and legal order is ascendant in America, and this new order is only possible, in the arena of American law and jurisprudence, if the original intent and the very words of the Constitution of the United States are twisted beyond recognition….

We are in a fight for the most basic liberties God has given humanity, every single one of us, made in his image. Religious liberty is being redefined as mere freedom of worship, but it will not long survive if it is reduced to a private sphere with no public voice. The very freedom to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake, and thus so is the liberty of every American. Human rights and human dignity are temporary abstractions if they are severed from their reality as gifts of the Creator. The eclipse of Christian truth will lead inevitably to a tragic loss of human dignity. If we lose religious liberty, all other liberties will be lost, one by one. I am a Christian, and I believe that salvation is found in no other name than Jesus Christ and in no other gospel, but I will fight for the religious liberty of all.

 

Right Wing Round-Up - 4/16/15

Brian Brown's CitizenGo Promoting Anti-LGBT Referendum In Slovakia

Next week, Slovakia will hold a referendum against same-sex marriage, and anti-LGBT groups from around the globe are getting into the game to support it.

Although Slovakia has already banned same-sex marriage in its constitution, the referendum would reinforce and expand the prohibition, asking voters, according to the Associated Press, “whether they agree that a marriage can be called only a union between a man and a woman, same-sex partners can't adopt children, and that children wouldn't have to attend school classes on sex education if their parents don't agree with them.”

Last year, a European representative of the U.S. group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a brief in the country’s constitutional court in favor of holding the referendum. ADF also supported a provision in that would have banned domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples, but the court rejected including that provision in the referendum.

Yesterday, CitizenGo, a Madrid-based group whose board of directors includes National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, circulated a petition to its American email subscribers supporting Slovakia’s marriage referendum. The email sent to American supporters was signed by Josh Craddock, the head of Personhood USA’s international and United Nations work, on behalf of CitizenGo.

The petition, which has already gathered more than 45,000 signatures, encourages Slovak citizens to vote “yes” on the referendum in the face of what it calls “an aggressive foreign media campaign” against it:

The Slovak referendum is under attack from an aggressive foreign media campaign against the initiative. We cannot leave Slovak citizens alone in the face of these international pressures against marriage and the family.

By signing this petition, you will show your solidarity and support for marriage and family. Your signature will encourage Slovakia to vote in favor of these important values.

The November issue of the newsletter of the World Congress of Families, an Illinois-based group that connects international anti-LGBT and anti-choice activists, featured a plea from Anton Chromik, a leader the group spearheading the referendum effort in Slovakia, for support from international groups.

The Cato Institute’s Dalibor Rohac wrote in the Times last month that Chromik is warning that LGBT people don’t want “rights,” but to “shut the mouths of other people,” which he says could lead to “dictatorships” or “mass murders”:

Anton Chromik, one of the leaders of the Alliance for Family, claims that “homosexuals are not asking just for ‘rights,’ but want to shut the mouths of other people. They will be making decisions over other people’s lives, careers, and that has always in history resulted in dictatorships and sometimes even in mass murders.”

This rhetoric is reminiscent of the warnings peddled American anti-LGBT activists; as Political Research Associates has noted, the frame of LGBT people as the real oppressors is one that U.S. groups have been increasingly pushing in their work overseas.

Rohac also noted that the anti-LGBT referendum is tied up with Slovakia’s economic troubles and with its relationship with Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin has taken advantage of anti-LGBT sentiment to strengthen support for Russia in Eastern European and Central Asia:

For the government of Prime Minister Fico, the controversy is a welcome — though temporary — distraction from some very real problems facing Slovakia. While its transition from Communism was a success, the country is still plagued by rampant corruption, chronic unemployment — exceeding 30 percent in some regions — and by the intergenerational poverty of the sizeable Roma population.

The country has also seen a geopolitical shift following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Mr. Fico becoming one of the Kremlin’s leading apologists. Unsurprisingly, Slovakia’s anti-gay activists have a soft spot for Vladimir Putin, too. Former Prime Minister Jan Carnogursky, a former Catholic dissident and an outspoken supporter of the referendum, noted recently that “in Russia, one would not even have to campaign for this — over there, the protection of traditional Christian values is an integral part of government policy” and warned against the “gender ideology” exported from the United States.

ADF Lawyer: Gay Rights Opponents May Soon Be 'Put In Jail For Standing For Marriage'

Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which wants to make gay sex a criminal offense, said in an interview earlier this week that gay rights advocates are planning to throw their opponents in jail.

While speaking to “Washington Watch” guest host Josh Duggar about the legal case of a Washington florist who was held in violation of the state’s Consumer Protection Act for denying service to a same-sex couple, Nimocks warned that “the persecution is only going to ramp up and it’s going to become more fierce.”

“We appreciate so many of those who are willing to stand for marriage in the face of brutal opposition and public excoriation,” he said. “I don’t think we’re far away from a day where we might see somebody being persecuted to the point of being put in jail for standing for marriage.”

Mat Staver To Headline Jamaica Conference Hosted By Group Defending Anti-Sodomy Laws

American Religious Right leaders Mat Staver and Judith Reisman are scheduled to be featured speakers at a conference in Jamaica this weekend hosted by a group that has been working to preserve the country’s criminal ban on consensual gay sex.

The annual conference, hosted by the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, will focus on how “[c]ontemporary society has become increasingly hostile to the traditional definitions of marriage and family” and Staver, the head of Liberty Counsel, will discuss “global legal trends impacting the institution of the family.”

JCHS’s conference has drawn prominent American anti-gay activists before. In 2012, two top lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom spoke at the conference, one of whom defended Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law, calling homosexuality “harmful not only spiritually and psychologically, but also physically.” Last year, Americans For Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera made an appearance at the conference, urging Jamaicans: “Do not be like us, do not be like Britain, do not sit idly by as so-called ‘LGBT activists’ manipulate words and laws to achieve dominance in your country.”

LaBarbera distanced himself from the U.S. State Department’s support for LGBT rights around the world, telling attendees (as transcribed by a Buzzfeed reporter who attended):

I do not stand with my government. I’m a patriotic American, but I do not stand with the current United States government in its promotion of homosexuality and gender confusion. But I do stand with the Jamaican people … I pray that you will learn from our mistakes and from lessons of history and avoid the inevitable moral corruption and health hazards and the danger to young people that come from capitulating to this sin movement that calls itself gay. It is almost now can be predicted with 100 percent accuracy, if the law is a teacher: If you take down this law, it will only lead to more demands. Appeasement does not work.

MassResistance’s Brian Camenker has also headlined a rally for the group.

The groups organizing the conference have opposed efforts to overturn the country’s anti-sodomy laws, which impose up to 10 years imprisonment for gay sex. Jamaica CAUSE, a cosponsor, organized rallies earlier this year to oppose an effort to overturn the law. The main sponsor, Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, also supports keeping the laws. On its website, JCHS provides a document called “Frequently Asked Questions About The Buggery Law” that attributes homosexuality to “economic reasons, direct Satanic influence, media and entertainment enticement, and experiences during incarceration” and cautions, “If determining human rights is separated from morality and based on individual freedom without any restraints, all perversions will in due time become ‘rights’.”

In a section on countries with greater freedom for LGBT people, the group adopts the American Right’s persecution messaging:

Why is it so important to certain countries, such as the UK, that Jamaica removes the buggery law?

Homosexuals in those countries have gained political power and so are able to use the machinery of the state to achieve their ends. It is interesting to note that the aim in these countries is not just that the buggery law is repealed, but that all types of sexual behaviour, including pedophilia and bestiality, should be eventually legalized as alternative sexual orientations. Further, the removal of the buggery law often results in attacks on freedom of speech and religion so that those who speak out against homosexuality are discriminated against and victimized. They want all types of sexual behavior to be legal.

JCHS defends Jamaica’s anti-sodomy, or “buggery,” law this way:

Since the buggery law is difficult to police shouldn’t it be removed from the books? Laws have multiple roles. (i) instruction on right behaviour that benefit individuals and society (ii) deterrence against wrong behaviour (iii) punishment for wrong behaviour. The law of the land bears witness to that which the state approves. This is important because this determines, for example, what can and can’t be taught to children in schools. Laws against murder, littering and traffic violations have not prevented these activities but that is no reason for these laws to be removed. Because a law cannot be policed does not mean it should be removed.

The group also provides images like this as “media resources”:

Right Wing Round-Up - 11/19/14

Arizona School Board Votes To Remove Pages Of Biology Textbook That Aren't Anti-Abortion Enough

In response to a complaint from the Religious Right group Alliance Defending Freedom, a school board in Arizona has voted to remove pages of an honors high school biology book that ADF contends don’t show “an affirmative preference to childbirth and adoption as options to abortion” in describing various forms of contraception.

ADF based its complaint to the Gilbert, Arizona, school board on a 2012 state law that bans schools from providing instruction “that does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.” Although the school board’s lawyers and the state department of education both argued that the pages in question — one of which you can view here — didn’t violate the law, conservatives on the board went ahead with the page removal.

The textbook states that “Complete abstinence (avoiding intercourse) is the only totally effective method of birth control,” before launching into a straight-forward explanation of the workings of several methods of birth control, including emergency contraception.

One board member told Phoenix's 12 News that “by redacting, we are not censoring”:

Board member Julie Smith said the school district was breaking state law by using the book " Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections ."

The 2-year-old state law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, bars school districts and charter schools from making presentations or providing instructional materials to pupils "that does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion."

Smith said she raised questions about the text in January after a comment from a constituent. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a faith-based legal organization that recently defended Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage, raised the issue in a letter to Gilbert Superintendent Christina Kishimoto in August.

The focus is two pages in the book, titled "Contraception can prevent unwanted pregnancy."

The text says, "Complete abstinence (avoiding intercourse) is the only totally effective method of birth control." It also describes how the "morning after pill" works as a contraception method.

Board member Lily Tram said the board's decision to remove pages from the book, which has been used by the district since 2006, amounted to censorship.

Smith disagreed. "By redacting, we are not censoring," she said. "This school district does offer sexual education classes. If we were censoring we would not offer anything on this topic whatsoever."

Board President Stacy Burk said some parents had said they were ready to help remove or redact the pages in the textbook.

Right Quietly Pours Money Into Montana, Hoping To 'Flip' Pivotal State Supreme Court

Conservative legal advocates from throughout the country have been quietly pouring money into a Montana state supreme court race, hoping to topple a court majority that has bucked the U.S. Supreme Court on campaign finance issues and could soon have a voice in cases with national implications involving abortion rights and LGBT equality.

The Right’s chosen candidate is Lawrence VanDyke, a former state solicitor general with a perfect pedigree for pro-corporate and Religious Right donors. Not only has VanDyke indicated his support for the U.S. Supreme Court’s dismantling of campaign finance laws and lamented that the current Montana high court is insufficiently “pro-business,” but, in his position as solicitor general, steered the state government toward taking positions against abortion rights, marriage equality and gun restrictions in other states.

What's more, in his writings as a law student, VanDyke was unguarded in his social conservative views, fretting about same-sex marriage, endorsing discredited “ex-gay” therapy and defending the teaching of anti-scientific “Intelligent Design” in public schools.

The Right Sees An Opportunity In Montana

At last month’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, the Family Research Council’s political action committee hosted a private $100-a-head reception featuring conservative luminaries including Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, GOP congressmen Steve King, Vicky Hartzler and Mark Meadows, and congressional candidate Dave Brat of Virginia, who unseated former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in an upset primary election this year.

A flyer for the event announced that along with those national Republican politicians, FRC would be “showcasing a very important State Supreme Court candidate, Lawrence VanDyke of Montana, who we hope can flip the court in that state.”

VanDyke’s presence on the fundraiser’s roster was telling. As FRC’s flyer made clear, a VanDyke victory would change the ideological balance on a court that has been a thorn in the side of opponents of campaign finance reform and could soon be facing nationally watched cases on abortion rights and marriage equality.

VanDyke has not yet submitted a campaign finance report showing how much money, if any, FRC was able to bundle for him at the fundraiser, and his campaign did not respond to our inquiry about whether he was personally present at the Values Voter event. But a review of VanDyke’s campaign finance reports shows that his candidacy has attracted keen interest from out-of-state donors, including some of the country’s leading conservative legal activists.

[UPDATE: VanDyke's Oct. 20 fundraising report revealed some of the contributions from FRC and its allies.]

Since filing for the race to unseat sitting Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat in March, VanDyke has raised about $78,000, more than one-third of which — roughly $29,000 — has come from 114 individual out-of-state donors. By contrast, Wheat has raised just under $85,000 for his reelection bid, only $1,100 of which came from just five out-of-state donors.

Among those who have contributed to VanDyke’s campaign are recognizable names in conservative legal circles. Kelly Shackelford, president of the right-wing legal group Liberty Institute (a major sponsor of the Values Voter Summit) contributed $100, while another top Liberty Institute official, Hiram Sasser, gave $320, the maximum gift allowable as of VanDyke's last fundraising report. Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network and a Harvard Law School classmate of VanDyke’s, and her husband Roger also each maxed out with $320 contributions. Thomas Spence, an official at the conservative Regnery publishing house also sent the maximum contribution to VanDyke’s campaign. Two employees of the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom have together contributed $370. Christopher Murray, a lawyer who served on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, also contributed $320.

Nearly $7,000 of VanDyke’s contributions have come from employees of the law firm Gibson Dunn, where Vandyke worked before entering public service. That includes $320 each from Theodore Olson, the conservative attorney argued the Citizens United case (but who has become better known as a marriage equality advocate), and controversial Bush appeals court nominee Miguel Estrada. VanDyke’s campaign also received $320 each from Eugene Scalia — the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and a Wall Street reform-buster in his own right — and his wife.

Montana’s Cowgirl Blog notes that prominent Montana social conservatives Greg and Susan Gianforte — who fund creationist efforts and support anti-gay policies — have also each contributed the maximum amount to VanDyke’s campaign. He has also received the maximum contribution from the Montana Gas & Oil PAC and — in the form of an in-kind gift of catering — from the PAC’s treasurer, Dave Galt.

Cowgirl Blog also notes that VanDyke got a major assist last month from a newly created group called Montanans for a Fair Judiciary, which sent a statewide mailer in favor of his candidacy. The group, which was registered last month, is staffed by a former Montana GOP official and a corporate lobbyist for oil and gas clients, among others.

And just last week, a Washington, D.C.-based group called the Republican State Leadership Committee Judicial Fairness Montana PAC — an offshoot a national group funded by big business interests including the Reynolds tobacco company and Koch Industries — bought $110,000 worth of television ads supporting VanDyke and slamming Wheat as soft on crime. The group has also been mailing out leaflets accusing Wheat of siding with “environmental extremists.”

All of this attention from national activists and corporate backers has caught the attention of a group of six retired Montana Supreme Court justices, who signed a letter last week calling VanDyke an “unqualified corporate lawyer,” adding, "Given [his] background, Mr. VanDyke is an excellent corporate pick although that is obviously not good news for Montanans.”

MTN News reported:

The letter from the judges notes that VanDyke has received the maximum allowable campaign contributions from numerous out-of-state lawyers who represent major corporations, including more than 20 at the Gibson firm - including at least one who represented Citizens United.

"Corporations are buying judicial races because they want judges who will not hold them accountable," the draft letter from the retired justices says. "If the disinformation they are spreading successfully manipulates Montanans into electing an unqualified corporate lawyer, we will lose our fair and impartial court."

‘Changing The Face of the Montana Supreme Court’

While VanDyke’s personal connections seem to behind quite a bit of his financial support from out-of-state conservative leaders, his featured spot at the Values Voter Summit hints that the conservative legal movement and the Religious Right see an opportunity in his candidacy.

Montana conservatives have made no secret of their desire to pack the state Supreme Court with justices in their ideological mold. Last year, the Great Falls Tribune published leaked emails between conservative Republicans in the state senate discussing a “long term strategy” for displacing more moderate Republicans in the state legislature and “changing the face of the Montana Supreme Court.”

One lawmaker wrote of the need to “purge” the party of moderates, after which “a new phoenix will rise from the ashes.”

In 2012, Montana conservatives were able to elect the likeminded Laurie McKinnon to the state Supreme Court thanks in part to a dark money group called the “Montana Growth Network” run by a Republican state senator that spent at least $42,000 on her campaign — more than the candidate spent herself. The “Montanans for a Fair Judiciary” group that has been campaigning for VanDyke is linked to the firm that was employed by the “Montana Growth Network” to boost McKinnon.

National conservative groups have good reason to take an interest in the race as well.

Montana’s Supreme Court gained national attention in 2011 when it bucked the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of campaign finance regulation, ruling that the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United did not invalidate Montana’s century-old ban on corporate spending in elections. The 5-2 decision, in which Justice Wheat joined the majority, openly defied the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling. One of the two dissenting justices wrote that the state court must follow the high court’s precedent but used the opportunity to excoriate the Supreme Court for its Citizens United logic. On appeal, the Supreme Court summarily reversed Montana’s opinion, ending the state’s corporate spending ban.

Montana’s Supreme Court may soon also be in the center of the legal debates on same-sex marriage and abortion rights. State anti-choice groups have indicated that they might challenge Montana’s abortion clinic buffer-zone bill in the wake of the Supreme Court’s striking down of a similar bill in Massachusetts. In addition, marriage equality cases are working their way through both state and federal courts in Montana.

A Movement Candidate

Although Montana’s judicial elections are ostensibly nonpartisan, VanDyke’s resume makes him seemingly a perfect candidate for conservative activists hoping to drag the state's high court to the right. At Harvard Law School, VanDyke was active in the conservative Federalist Society and wrote an article for the school’s law review favorably reviewing a book arguing for allowing public schools to teach anti-scientific Intelligent Design.

In an article for another school publication, VanDyke lamented that courts in Canada had been “forcing same-sex marriage on the populace” and warned of a “trend of intolerance towards religion as homosexual ‘rights’ become legally entrenched.” In the same article, he cited a study supporting debunked “ex-gay” therapy to support the “view that homosexuals can leave the homosexual lifestyle.” (The author of that study has since recanted.)

After graduating from law school, VanDyke clerked for D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown, perhaps the most stridently conservative of that court’s activist pro-corporate wing, known for her extreme opposition to government regulation and her writing of a prequel to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. After a stint at Gibson Dunn, VanDyke became an assistant solicitor general in Texas and was named solicitor general of Montana early last year.

In public statements, VanDyke has indicated that he would have sided with the U.S. Supreme Court on Citizens United, defending the decision in a debate last month. And although his race is officially nonpartisan, VanDyke has made it very clear which side of the aisle he falls on, accusing his opponent of judging “like a liberal Democrat” and being “results-oriented” in his rulings — a loaded accusation favored by conservative activists.

VanDyke has also hinted that he would be more favorable to business interests on the court, touting an endorsement from the Montana Chamber of Commerce and saying, “I don’t think anybody who follows our court thinks it’s a pro-business court.” On his website, he backs efforts to “produce and preserve” natural resources, which he contrasts with his opponent's siding with preservationists in a dispute over drilling gas wells. In September, he spoke at a “Coal Appreciation Day” sponsored by a coal industry group.

VanDyke’s website also touts his support for the death penalty and an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment, noting his work as state solicitor general defending a bill that would have invalidated federal firearms regulations on weapons manufactured and kept in Montana. (The law was ultimately struck down in federal court). In that position, VanDyke also pushed for Montana signing on to Alabama briefs in favor of overturning semiautomatic weapon bans in New York and Connecticut. At the time, he bantered over email with Alabama’s solicitor general, Andrew Brasher, about shooting elk with semi-automatic firearms, attaching a picture of himself hunting with “the same gun used by the Navy Seals.”

Ultimately, Montana signed on to both briefs, and VanDyke evidently made a useful connection as well: This year, Brasher contributed the maximum amount to his Supreme Court campaign.

VanDyke recently announced that he had been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

In his role as solicitor general, VanDyke also worked on efforts to oppose same-sex marriage and abortion rights, including signing on to amicus briefs filed in other states.

VanDyke, meanwhile, is running on the message that he will follow “the law, not politics” and accusing Justice Wheat of being overly partisan. In the same interview in which he lamented that the current state supreme court was unfavorable to business interests, he said, “I have not promised anybody that I’m going to be a pro-business judge or that I’m going to be a conservative judge...I’m going to be a fair and balanced judge.”

Judicial Elections Draw More And More Big Money

Last year, Justice at Stake reported on the fast increase of spending in judicial elections, leading to judicial races seeming “alarmingly indistinguishable from ordinary political campaigns” and blurring “the boundaries that keep money and political pressure from interfering with the rule of law.”

Part of this increase was attributable to the 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed outside groups to spend unlimited amounts supporting and opposing candidates. In the case of judicial elections, those candidates could be the ones deciding on the future of that very campaign spending.

It’s no wonder that the corporate right and the Religious Right have joined forces to back VanDyke’s candidacy. A little-noticed nonpartisan race in Montana could prove to be an effective long-term investment for a movement that’s trying to solidify a pro-corporate grip on the courts and win back lost legal ground abortion rights and LGBT equality.

This post has been updated to clarify the status of marriage equality cases in Montana.

Alliance Defending Freedom Lobbies For Anti-Marriage Referendum In Slovakia

Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based Religious Right powerhouse, has urged Slovakia’s constitutional court to allow anti-gay activists to place a referendum on the country’s ballot that would reinforce the current bans on same-sex marriage, adoption, and domestic partner protections and add a provision making it harder for schools to offer sex education.

The National Law Journal reports:

The court is considering a petition seeking a referendum submitted by the Slovak Alliance for Family. The measure calls for a vote on four questions:

· The definition of a marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

· A requirement that adoptive parents be married.

· Prohibiting registered partnerships between gay and lesbian couples.

· Permitting parents to opt out their children from sex education classes taught at public schools.

"The people of Slovakia should have the freedom to preserve marriage and family if they so choose," said Alliance Defending Freedom senior legal counsel Roger Kiska, who filed an amicus brief with the court. "This referendum will allow Slovaks to affirm current Slovak law and important social values, which is perfectly acceptable under the Slovak Constitution."

The opt-out of sex education classes, however, is not existing law.

More than 400,000 citizens signed the petition supporting a referendum, according to Roger Kiska—more than the required number of signatures. However, Slovak President Andrej Kiska asked the Constitutional Court to review the measure because of a provision in the country's constitution that forbids holding a referendum to change "fundamental rights and liberties."

In June, Slovakia became the seventh EU country to ban same-sex marriage. Alliance Defending Freedom has a hefty budget for Europe, spending more than $750,000 on its European programs last year.

Why Are 'Sexual Radicals' Accusing Poor Matt Barber, Rick Scarborough And Daniel Lapin of Being Anti-Gay?

In the latest installment of the right-wing victimhood saga, the Illinois-based World Congress of Families has released an open letter accusing “sexual radicals” of launching a “smear campaign” against them in advance of a planned conference in Melbourne later this week.

“Sexual radicals have launched a smear campaign to discredit the Melbourne conference, which misrepresents the international pro-family movement and the positions of the World Congress of Families,” the letter says. “Specifically, it is alleged that advocacy of the natural (or normative) family is somehow unfair to other families and that we ‘shame’ single-parent families, homosexual ‘couples’ and the divorced.” (Scare quotes in the original.)

"The goal of sexual radicals is to deconstruct marriage and marginalize the family, and thus to transform society into something unrecognizable to generations past," the letter continues. "Like all social experiments that attempt to create a 'new man,' these are doomed to failure."

Yes, who could accuse the signers of the letter of shaming LGBT people? Among the 80 signatories are such notable LGBT allies as Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber, who started his very own website to publish off-the-charts anti-gay vitriol; Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who has said that homosexuality is a form of “barbarism”; Russian World Congress of Families activists Alexei Komov and Pavel Parfentiev, who have cheered on their country’s new spate of anti-gay laws; and Rick Scarborough, who claims that AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality.

Also joining the defense of the World Congress of Families are the Family Research Council’s Patrick Fagan, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, former House majority leader Tom Delay, the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Benjamin Bull, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, along with a number of international allies of WCF.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign has just released a new report detailing WCF’s support for repressive anti-gay laws throughout the world.

ADF: Planned Parenthood Using Sex-Ed To Hook Kids On Abortion, 'Akin To Tobacco Companies Providing Cigarettes To Kids'

Alliance Defending Freedom has been following closely a proposed sex education curriculum in Tempe, Arizona that has the support of, but was not developed by, Planned Parenthood. In a video report this week, ADF speculates that Planned Parenthood is taking a page from tobacco companies and using the curriculum to “develop future customers” for abortions.

“It was no surprise that the country’s largest abortion provider is promoting abortion to our children,” the ADF reporter says. “The question now is, is Planned Parenthood simply seeking to develop future customers and make a profit akin to tobacco companies providing cigarettes to kids?”

He also warns that the curriculum portrays “homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle.”

Planned Parenthood influencing Tempe children? from ADF Media Relations on Vimeo

 

 

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