Offensive: ADF returns to what solidified them as a "hate group" in America

Most are familiar with the cases of the bakers and florists and photographers who have gone to court with claims that their choice to turn away paying LGBTQ customers is somehow a right to which they are entitled. Many are also familiar with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the hate group designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and the messaging they've used in their cases. Ever since marriage equality won at the U.S. Supreme Court, these cases have been at the forefront of the far right’s onslaught against LGBTQ rights.

What has linked all of these cases up to this point are the complaints from the customers that were turned away. In all prior cases, it was the LGBTQ person or couple at the center filing some sort of complaint that sparked legal action. It wasn’t something esoteric or theoretical, but rather a tangible case wherein a customer sought a service, and a business owner denied the same.

But since the ADF's partial/narrow/procedural “win” in the Masterpiece Cakes case in 2018, the anti-LGBTQ legal shop is getting cocky. In fact, they aren’t even waiting for a complaint before filing their latest suits. In a new case out of the ADF’s home state of Arizona, they are representing plaintiffs who are proactively filing suit against local nondiscrimination ordinances in hopes of having these LGBTQ protections overturned before they even having any application to their clients’ lives. 

The case involves two young artists, Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, who run a custom printing business called Brush & Nib Studio. Since this business operates in the Phoenix area, and the Phoenix area has an ordinance [Phoenix City Code Section 18.4 (B)] containing sexual orientation and gender identity protections, Ms. Duka and Ms. Koski are living in fear that some day a happy same-sex couple will come in and request wedding invitations. Or perhaps a trans woman will seek a flyer for a celebration. Or maybe an LGBTQ ally will ask for a poster honoring her gay child. Whatever the situation, Duka and Koski want the ability to turn away the request on the sole basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the party requesting or being honored by the work. They want this this discriminatory super power so badly, in fact, that they went in front of the Arizona Supreme Court making this very argument.

And let me repeat: No one has even asked Ms. Duka or Ms. Koski to create such an invite. They aren’t even claiming anyone has! They’re just taking time out of their lives to strip away protections that are already in place. 

It is also further confirmation of the ADF’s all-out assault against LGBTQ rights. They’re not playing defense against the supposed “religious exemption” assaults that pesky LGBTQ human beings are posing against them by mere virtue of being living members of a fair and free society. The ADF has given up that game. They’re now going on the offensive against fair and free society in order to set a stark precedent that would lead to more and greater repercussions for LGBTQ consumers. They aren’t even acknowledging that the ordinance they’re challenging contains these so-called "religious exemptions" for religious organizations! Instead, they’re sticking their necks in and demanding a discriminatory “solution” when there hasn’t even been a problem. 

Which is to say, they are acting like the ADF of old. While this organization has been wearing a “nice” mask for the past few years, likely inspired by the backlash they received after making the SPLC’s hate group list. But let's not forget: ADF is the same organization whose founder wrote a book that compares LGBTQ activists to Nazis and aggressively promotes "conversion therapy" practices (full text of the book here). This is the same organization that for many years ran an event called the Day of Truth, which involved promoting so-called “ex-gay” propaganda in the nation’s schools. This is the same organization that has fought against LGBTQ rights in every major court case.

And now their mask is off. We now know that nothing changed except their PR campaigns. This is the same ADF, and their agenda is still to ban, block, and “convert” LGBTQ Americans. This latest attempt to go on the offensive against LGBTQ acceptance isn’t really anything new, but rather a return to form for a group that has always been, well—offensive.