“No gays allowed,” proclaims a new billboard in Times Square.
“STOP Alliance Defending Freedom,” smaller letters below the shocking message read. “Learn more at NoGays.org.”
The billboard is an attempt by the group Citizens for Transparency to highlight the anti-LGBTQ work done by conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which has, for more than two decades now, worked on cases that attempt to criminalize gay sex, restrict transgender rights, and allow businesses to deny service to LGBTQ people.
It was ADF that was behind the recent Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, and they have been designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
On Friday night, Laura Ingraham welcomed ADF’s vice president Jeremy Tedesco on her Fox show to discuss the billboard, which ultimately turned into both Ingraham and Tedesco attacking the SPLC, because of course it did!
This sign was put up in New York and people don't see the small print and think @AllianceDefends put up a no gays allowed sign. It was actually put up by a pro LGBT org that uses the domain name nogays dot org. They should take it down pic.twitter.com/jZqQLYgA9S
— The Teatarian (@teapartytempest) November 16, 2018
“They played a role in 54 victories in front of the Supreme Court and defended families and marriages, but now they’re being targeted by this forces on the left in an effort to blunt their effectiveness,” Ingraham said, by way of introducing her guest.
“They were targeted by this disgusting billboard campaign in New York City’s Times Square… Here now to respond, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. Jeremy, I have a gay brother. I love him very much. I didn’t like that sign at all. I thought it was hideous.”
The ADF, Tedeso argued, is not an anti-LGBTQ organization but rather just dedicated to supporting everyone’s First Amendment rights, one of the right’s favorite euphemisms for supporting hateful policies.
“We do a lot of great work. We protect everybody’s freedom,” he said. “Their ad completely misrepresents everything our case is about.”
Ingraham asked Tedeso if the group would represent a “gay group” if they had a First Amendment case, and Tedeso said they “absolutely” would.
“We support the rights of everybody. Our wins are wins for everybody. We have represented gay clients, but we represent people from all faiths as well. So it’s really important to understand we win cases for everybody,” he said. “The free speech and free exercise rights that we protect are rights we all benefit from.”
The real problem, Ingraham declared, is the SPLC.
“They’ve branded you a hate group. And they’ve put people like me and other conservative commentators on hit lists,” she said.
It’s worth noting, of course, that Ingraham has a history of racist and transphobic takes of her own. Before joining Fox News, on her radio show, she attacked the pope for talking about climate change, railed against affirmative action, said “the Muslims” never support “the conservatives” on anti-LGBTQ issues, called Planned Parenthood a criminal organization, said many minorities voted for Obama because of his race, and suggested the U.S. should shoot undocumented immigrants who want to re-enter the country, among a litany of other hateful and fact-challenged takes.
“People hear southern poverty law center, think they that’s the gold standard of civil rights organizations. I think that’s not true, she said, before turning to the SPLC’s assets.
“They have big mail solicitations,” she said, as Tedesco nodded along.
“Well, this group, the Citizens for Transparency, actually a very secretive group,” Tedesco responded. “They’re just parroting the Southern Poverty Law Center’s misinformation about us. What they do is they attack people who disagree with them.”
“It’s an attempt to intimidate people from expressing themselves,” Ingraham agreed. “We want more speech in this country. I like the fact that we have a First Amendment. For people of all backgrounds, religious, sexual orientation. Have your voice. Respect each other in your conversation. But the idea of intimidating people… I know they’re not going to intimidate you.”