Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) questioned judicial nominee Amy Coney Barrett last week about her association with the nonprofit legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Franken claimed, among other things, that ADF “fights against equal treatment of LGBT people” and “calls for the sterilization of transgender people abroad.”
Franken referenced the Southern Poverty Law Center’s designation of ADF as a hate group and cited their claims about ADF’s work.
Ed Whelan, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), defended ADF Tuesday and pointed out that Franken hadn’t researched the veracity of the SPLC’s claim that ADF supports sterilization of transgender people abroad.
“If Franken or his staff had bothered to click SPLC’s supposedly supporting link, they would have discovered that the European Court of Human Rights case that SPLC was relying on was one that involved the vexing question whether and when government-issued documents should redefine a person’s biological sex to comport with the person’s gender identity,” he wrote.
“One possible answer to that question—an answer that is available to the federal government and to all fifty states—is to allow a sex change on a government-issued document only when the person has undergone a so-called sex-change operation,” he explained. “So the ‘state-sanctioned sterilization’ that ADF purportedly defended was in fact an individual transgender person’s own decision to undergo surgical mutilation.”
“SPLC and Franken are wrong in claiming that ADF advocated that government-issued documents should redefine a person’s biological sex only when that person has undergone a sex-change operation,” Whelan added. “ADF did not even address the question in its amicus brief but instead argued merely that the ‘mechanics’ of changing the sex on government documents was ‘a matter for the member State’ to determine (again, just as it is up to each state in this country).”
ADF spokeswoman Kerri Kupec told The Daily Signal that the group “would never condone government-compelled sterilization, as he alleged.”
“It is deeply regrettable that Sen. Franken is misinformed about our work on behalf of religious freedom, something so ‘extreme’ that even seven justices of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with our position three months ago in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer,” Alliance Defending Freedom President Michael Farris said in response to the allegations.
“There is a real danger of conflating genuine hate groups, like the Ku Klux Klan, with mainstream religious beliefs that are shared by millions of Americans and people from all walks of life across the world,” he added. “As a member of Congress, Sen. Franken needs to fact-check before parroting discredited attacks by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a once-proud civil rights organization that is now a left-wing smear machine known to incite violence. Alliance Defending Freedom is the largest religious liberty legal advocacy organization in the world and advocates for the freedom of all people—including Sen. Franken’s constituents—to peacefully live, speak, and work consistently with their convictions without fear of government punishment.”
The SPLC has been criticized for listing both ADF and the conservative Family Research Council (FRC) as “hate groups.” Their hate map was cited by convicted domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins as the way he found the FRC in his 2012 attack on the FRC building in which he shot and wounded a security guard before being subdued.
Senator James Lankford (R-OK) recently wrote a letter to ABC expressing “serious concern” over their labeling of ADF as a hate group due to SPLC’s designation. He called SPLC’s hate group definitions “overly broad and not based in fact or legal accuracy.”