Alliance Defending Freedom: Staunch Enemy of Equality

by HRC Staff

In the last 50 years, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer movement in the United States has achieved tremendous progress toward equality, much of which has been spearheaded by the Human Rights Campaign, our members and supporters and our coalition partners.

However, this progress has spurred a ferocious and dangerous backlash.

Today, one of the biggest threats to LGBTQ+ equality is the Alliance Defending Freedom, a staunch and virulent enemy of equality and a well-funded rightwing legal advocacy organization that has been deemed an anti-LGBTQ+ “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

ADF poses an existential threat to our community, writing anti-transgender legislation for school boards and statehouses across the country and arguing against same-sex marriage, conversion therapy bans and reproductive rights at the federal level, all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

You may not know this, but ADF also reaches out to legislators to write anti-equality bills directly. In 2022 alone, it authored at least 130 bills in 34 states; more than 30 were passed into law. Each one of these bills actively harms LGBTQ+ people.

Founded in 1994, ADF has been targeting LGBTQ+ people for decades. Not only do these extremists want to roll back and dismantle civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community and push queer people back into the closet — they also want to infiltrate virtually every space of government and public life in the United States and impose a rightwing white Christian nationalist agenda in our country. Most recently, ADF’s former paid spokesperson and attorney, Mike Johnson, was elected Speaker of the House, second in line to the presidency.

As the 2024 state legislative season begins, we take a look at who has been leading the efforts against LGBTQ+ equality by advocating for harmful legislation across the country.

ADF is also very well-funded, raising $104 million in 2022, the last reporting date. With its funds, the organization has advocated for public policy that explicitly threatens our LGBTQ+ community, working hard to do the following:

  • Make same-sex marriages illegal

  • Re-criminalize sexual acts between consenting LGBTQ+ adults

  • Ban gender-affirming care

  • Ban trans youth from playing school sports with their friends

  • Ban abortion services

  • Censor books at school and public libraries

  • Promote “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” laws

  • Overturn bans on conversion therapy

  • Peddle slanders about LGBTQ+ people as pedophiles

  • Claim that LGBTQ+ people will destroy society

ADF even exports its hate internationally by supporting state-sanctioned sterilization of transgender people outside of the United States and promoting other potentially fatal anti-equality laws abroad.

ADF also helped litigate the Masterpiece Cake case and the 303 Creative case, which, together, argued for businesses to be granted a license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, as well as the Dobbs case, which overturned Roe v. Wade and 50 years of precedent and eliminated the constitutional guarantee of abortion rights.

There is no doubt that ADF has contributed substantially to the national state of emergency facing LGBTQ+ people in the United States. We must fight ADF and their bitter, anti-equality and minoritarian agenda with every tool in our toolbox. Together, we can defeat ADF’s attempts to roll back our rights and push us back into the closet — and build a world in which everyone can live freely, authentically and joyfully, no matter who they are, whom they love, or where they live, without exception.

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