Transcript of a speech that AG Jeff Sessions gave to a right-wing legal hate group behind closed doors has finally been revealed and it’s every bit a horrid as expected.
When I was a kid in school, I learned that the United States was founded on the principles of religious freedom, and liberty and justice for all. The attorney general of the United States should be the one at the highest levels helping to defend these ideals. So how is it, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was caught giving a “hate speech” to the hate group, Alliance Defending Freedom? There is something very wrong about a politician (let alone the attorney general) who refuses to release a copy of his speech beforehand.
The surface value of the speech starts out defending religious freedoms and citing the initial doctrines of the states as well as the Constitution. If you read the whole speech there appears to be nothing outright that could be deemed “hateful”, unless you understand the basis of the group Sessions was speaking to. It is the subtext that puts the speech into context, along with his comments.
The Alliance Defending Freedom is defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as follows; “Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage, and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally. “
NBC News reported “In his off-camera, closed-door speech about religious freedom delivered Tuesday night, Sessions announced new federal guidance is on the way. The guidance will also help agencies follow the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Sessions continued in his prepared remarks. “Congress enacted RFRA so that, if the federal government imposes a burden on somebody’s religious practice, it had better have a compelling reason.”
Democrats and LGTB groups were very concerned when they heard that Sessions was going to be addressing this group. In the speech, Sessions assured the anti-LGBT group that he would make defending “religious freedom” a top priority of the department and promised his office would issue new guidelines on the subject soon.
The issue is that the sort of religious freedom that is being discussed is the religious freedom that is defined by Sessions and right wing Christian groups. For example, these groups – specifically the Alliance Defending Freedom – believe “that allowing transgender students to use the correct bathroom goes against their ‘religious freedom’ as does requiring businesses to follow civil rights laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity. The group represented infamous Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of federal and state laws.”
“You can judge a person by the company they keep – Attorney General Jeff Sessions is choosing to spend his time speaking in front of one of the country’s leading anti-LGBTQ hate groups,” Joel Kasnetz, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement issued on the night Sessions spoke.
You can read the whole speech here.