The Alliance Defending Freedom has been designated an anti-LGBT “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, but the group still attracted a high-profile guest speaker this week: Attorney General Jeff Sessions. CNN and NBC News reports that Sessions spoke at the “Summit on Religious Liberty” Tuesday night in Orange County, Calif., and both the Justice Department and the alliance refuse to say what Sessions spoke about during the closed-to-the-press speech; the ADF describes itself as an advocacy organization for “religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.” “The attorney general has every right to speak to a group like [this],” a director for the Human Rights Campaign tells CNN. “What troubles us is that his remarks are being kept hidden from the public.”
Others think Sessions shouldn’t have spoken at all, with a rep from the National Center for Lesbian Rights calling the ADF “a truly destructive force in our country.” “You can judge a person by the company they keep, and … Sessions [chose] to spend his time speaking in front of one of the country’s leading anti-LGBTQ hate groups,” a DNC spokesman told NBC. An ADF attorney hit back against the “hate group” label, calling the SPLC “increasingly irrelevant,” but an SPLC director told NBC in April that such a designation wasn’t given just due to the group’s views against gay marriage, but because of “model legislation and litigation that attacks the LGBT community.” Donald Trump Jr. appeared to defend the group Wednesday, tweeting: “Hate group seems like a stretch???” NBC notes the ADF recently turned its focus from fighting gay marriage to fighting transgender people’s bathroom rights.