GLAAD: Trump Administration Pushes Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination at the Supreme Court Today

This morning the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Anti-LGBTQ hate group, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), alongside Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice, are arguing to undermine LGBTQ non-discrimination protections

NEW YORK – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, responded to today’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice is scheduled to speak in support of a Colorado baker who denied to serve an LGBTQ couple.

“The Department of Justice will pretend that this case is not about discrimination as they argue in front of the Supreme Court today, but that could not be further from the truth. While freedom of religion is paramount to our nation’s success, it does not give anyone the right to impose their beliefs on others, to harm others, or to discriminate,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “There is no sugar-coating the blatant and ugly agenda to discriminate against LGBTQ people at the core of this case, which is about seeking religious exemptions from non-discrimination laws for the singular purpose of refusing service to people simply because who they are.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has close ties with the ADF, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designates as an anti-LGBTQ hate group. The Department of Justice is joining the ADF to argue in favor of the defendant in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This follows Sessions speaking at a closed door ADF Summit as Attorney General and being listed as a contributor to their monthly magazine. Additionally, Sessions has an extensive anti-LGBTQ record of his own that is documented in GLAAD’s Trump Accountably Project.

In advance of oral arguments, GLAAD released resources for journalists covering the case which debunk inaccurate narratives that ADF actively pushes to press outlets. GLAAD also released an open letter to the media, together with more than 40 organizations, calling for accurate reporting around religious exemptions.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Jeff Sessions’ Ties to the Alliance Defending Freedom and Anti-LGBTQ Record

Ties to the Alliance Defending Freedom:

  • Consulted with the ADF on the October 2017 Department of Justice guidance to government agencies about how to interpret so-called "religious freedom."

  • Spoke at a closed-door ADF summit on so-called "religious freedom" as the active US Attorney General.

  • The ADF has posted Sessions' “We Will Defend Religious Freedom Resolutely” speech as the centerpiece of its monthly magazine, and even listed him on the masthead as a contributor to the publication.

  • Prior to Sessions' confirmation hearing, ADF founder Alan Sears wrote an Op-ED praising Sessions, in large part because of his resistance to LGBTQ rights.

  • Aligned himself with current ADF CEO Michael Farris in opposing the United Nations’ “Convention on the Rights of the Child” in 2010.

Anti-LGBTQ Record as Attorney General:

  • 10.10.17 - Openly defended LGBTQ discrimination when discussing the Masterpiece Cakeshop SCOTUS case in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network.

  • 10.6.17 – Issued a sweeping "religious exemptions" guidance which invites taxpayer-funded federal agencies, government employees, and government contractors to legally discriminate against LGBTQ employees as long as they cite a religious belief as the reason for doing it.

  • 10.5.17 - Reversed a policy that provided non-discrimination protections for transgender people in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  • 9.7.17 - Filed an amicus brief in support so-called “religious exemptions” to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans.

  • 9.5.17 - Announced the end of the DACA program, which protected an estimated 800,000 young undocumented immigrants, including 36,000 LGBTQ DREAMers, from detention and deportation.

  • 7.26.17 - Filed a brief opposing workplace nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the case Zarda v. Altitude Express.

  • 7.11.17 - Delivered closed-press remarks at a Summit on Religious Liberty hosted by the anti-LGBTQ hate group, Alliance Defending Freedom. 

  • 6.28.17 - The Department of Justice ejected reporters covering a DOJ Pride event hosted by LGBTQ affinity groups for federal workers.

  • 4.14.17 - Withdrew lawsuit accusing North Carolina of discriminating against the LGBTQ community in response to HB2, despite the similarities of the HB142 replacement. 

  • 2.22.17 - Rescinded Title IX protections for transgender students in our nation's schools. 

Votes against LGBTQ Community Prior to Service:

  • 2004 & 2006: Senator Sessions voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment, a constitutional amendment that would have made marriage equality illegal.

  • 2009Voted against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

  • 2010Voted against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Act repeal, which effectively ended the nation’s ban against allowing LGBTQ Americans to serve in the armed forces.

  • 2013: Voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act which bans federally funded service providers from discriminating against LGBTQ victims.

  • 2013Voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

  • 2015Sessions co-sponsored the so-called State Marriage Defense Act, a bill designed to circumvent federal protections for same-sex married couples.

  • 2015Sessions co-sponsored the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow opponents of marriage equality to discriminate against LGBTQ (or even supportive) customers and contractors.

Anti-LGBTQ Actions Prior to Service:

  • 1996As Alabama’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions reportedly fought to stop LGBTQ conference: As Alabama's attorney general in 1996, Sessions attempted to stop the Southeastern Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual College Conference from meeting at the University of Alabama under a state law passed in 1992 that made it illegal for public universities to fund in any way a group that promotes "actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws."

  • 1997: While attempting to defund the National Endowment of the Arts, Sessions echoed social conservative claims that "the National Endowment for the Arts showed explicit homosexual activities on the screen using a $31,000 grant."

  • 2006Sessions claimed the Supreme Court's ruling overturning sodomy laws "divorced morality from law."

  • 2009: Sessions once referred to a gay sexual orientation as having "gay tendencies."

  • 2010: In midst of the Prop 8 court hearings, Sessions condemned California federal judge for finding the state's discriminatory marriage ban to be unconstitutional, claiming he "was citing his own views, emotions and feelings" rather than the law.

  • 2010: Sessions opposed the nomination of US Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan in large part because of what he perceived as her LGBTQ support.

  • 2010While opposing the nomination of a DC Superior Court judge, Sessions cited (and placed on record) letters from viciously anti-LGBTQ groups like the Traditional Values Coalition, which faulted the nominee for her "radical lesbianism, anti-marriage" views.

  • 2015: Following the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling which granted marriage equality across the nation, Sessions implied the US Supreme Court was not allowed to find a right to marriage equality and that he might continue the fight: "...what this court did-they can't to do, nothing in the constitution for such a result no mention of marriage in the constitution,' says Sessions. It's an issue that evokes a lot of passion on both sides and may not be over."