“If there’s an outrageous and ill-founded lawsuit happening against trans people, it’s usually the ADF”

– Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality, NBC News (11/14/18)

Alliance Defending Freedom works with a large network of attorneys all over the country to pursue their extreme anti-LGBT agenda. Click here to see who’s on the list.

 

Media Matters for America Report:

Extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) regularly touts its network of over 3,300 allied attorneys, who apparently agree with the organization’s anti-LGBTQ statement of faith and provide pro bono legal support, but only a fraction of those allies are easily identifiable online.

 

ADF has also removed mentions of Solicitor General Noel Francisco as an allied attorney from its website, adding to the program’s opacity. As ADF has no easily accessible record of its allied attorney network, ​Media Matters​ has compiled ​a list of nearly 300 of the attorneys​ by sifting through dozens of press releases and other posts on the group’s website.

 

There are several notable allied attorneys on this list, including multiple state attorneys general, lawyers at major firms, and legislators. 

 

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ADF is one of the ​largest and most powerful​ anti-LGBTQ groups in the nation and has ​played a role​ in over 50 Supreme Court decisions, including on cases regarding abortion, religion, tuition tax credits, and LGBTQ issues. The legal powerhouse has taken dozens of extreme anti-LGBTQ positions, such as ​supporting​ Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” law, ​defending the ​discredited and dangerous​ practice of conversion therapy, ​advocating​ against adoption and foster care by LGBTQ people, and ​supporting​ policies that ban trans people from using facilities that align with their gender identity. To advance its mission, ADF uses its more than $50 million in ​revenue​ to ​provide​ attorneys with “the resources, training, and support they need to stand boldly for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.”

 

ADF’s influence is widespread; the organization has dozens of ​alumni and allies​ in influential government positions across the country. But ADF operates with an extreme lack of transparency, particularly regarding its allied attorneys, who often do not publicly identify themselves as such. It has even previously retracted its affiliation with a high-profile figure who it had reported as an ally.

 

ADF has built a vast alliance of attorneys and allies through several ​training​ programs as well as what it refers to as a “​powerful global network​” of over ​3,300​ “allied attorneys.” These allied attorneys ​receive​ opportunities for funding, access to ADF’s legal resources, and additional training opportunities in exchange for a commitment to provide ​pro bono service​, such as litigation support, media work, and aid to legislators and policymakers. ADF can ​activate​ these attorneys when it learns about LGBTQ-related events and, with their help, quickly involve itself in matters reaching down to the local level. In turn, these attorneys can also alert ADF to LGBTQ-related matters in their localities and bring the force of a national group to their backyards.

 

A 2017 investigative ​report​ by Sarah Posner in ​The Nation ​identified Noel Francisco, the Trump-Pence administration’s solicitor general, as an ADF allied attorney, citing two different ADF ​press​ ​releases​ explicitly stating that Francisco is one of “more than 3,000 private attorneys allied with ADF.” After publication, however, an editor’s note was attached noting that ADF “contacted ​The Nation, claiming that Francisco has never been an allied attorney” and calling it “our mistake” because its “media dept. got it wrong.” ADF promptly rewrote its ​press​ ​releases but did not issue corrections on either of them.

 

In the update, ​The Nation​ reported that ADF claimed in its email about Francisco that “its allied attorneys are not required to agree to the statement of faith [​The Nation​] found linked to within ADF’s FAQs about applying to the program.” The update continued:

 

That statement of faith includes a commitment to believing in the divinity of Jesus Christ, that God designed marriage for one man and one woman, and that homosexual behavior is “sinful and offensive to God.” Later in the day, that FAQ page, too, was changed. It had read, “The application requires affirmation of agreement with our statement of faith,” linking to the statement we quoted in the story [see screenshot here]. ADF’s website now omits that clause, reading only, “You become a part of the ADF Attorney Network by formally applying and being accepted as an Allied Attorney.” But the link on the web page, before it was changed yesterday, took one to the same statement of faith that employees must agree to.

 

The actual application page, however, still ​states​ that you can become an allied attorney by “filling out an application online and agreeing to a statement of faith.”

 

These discrepancies underscore the opacity surrounding both ADF’s network of allied attorneys and the process involved in becoming one. Testimony from a recent judicial nominee only adds to this confusion. In submitted answers to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, federal judge nominee Jeremy Kernodle ​stated​ that he was an allied attorney with ADF on a 2017 case. In response to follow-up questions, Kernodle ​clarified​ that he “did not apply or request to be an ‘allied attorney’ with ADF,” “discovered that ADF had listed [him] as an ‘allied attorney’” when he began preparing responses to the questionnaire, and was “not certain when that first occurred.”

 

ADF’s lack of transparency around its allied attorney program is particularly troubling given the group’s widespread influence. ​Media Matters​ has compiled​ a list of nearly 300 allied attorneys identified in various places on ADF’s website — but this is only a small fraction of the ​3,300​ allied attorneys whom ADF claims are in its network. It is unclear whether ADF’s allied attorneys remain as such for life or whether the 3,300 number includes former allied attorneys, some of whom could have potentially cut their official ties with the group with no public record. It is imperative that media include this context when reporting about these attorneys or their involvement in LGBTQ or other human rights matters.

Allied Attorneys in Positions of Power

Influential Private Law Firms:

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No Gays Allowed


The Alliance Defending Freedom is waging a war against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people–advocating for laws that put LGBT people in jail, supporting laws that would require the sterilization of transgender people in order to change documents, and spreading lies and misinformation.

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