The $40 Million Group Fighting LGBT Rights

By Michael O'Loughlin

Originally published on Advocate.com May 05 2014 3:01 PM ET

A nonprofit group of conservative lawyers in Arizona that raised nearly $40 million last year quietly leads the efforts to curb advances in LGBT rights.

According to analysis from ThinkProgress, the Alliance Defending Freedom was one of the main backers of Arizona’s failed SB1062, a bill that would have allowed business owners to withhold services from same-sex couples and others because of certain “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

Josh Israel at ThinkProgress writes that while SB1062 caught the attention of the media, it was only the latest in a decade-long attempt by ADF to, as its mission statement proclaims, “recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries.”

The article notes that in the early ’90s, several nonprofit law centers sought to represent the views of religious conservatives in the courts. Since then, however, ADF has become a fundraising behemoth, drying up funding opportunities for smaller, and sometimes less partisan, organizations.

Originally, Israel reports, ADF sought to raise $25 million to carry out its mission. But last year it brought in $38,943,749, with nearly $8 million from one anonymous supporter and over $15 million from a direct mail campaign that relies on scare tactics, warning readers about the “homosexual agenda”:

If Alliance Defending Freedom had not been able to come to their defense, who would have been there to protect them? Right now, thousands of Christians who have been silenced or punished for attempting to freely live out their faith are praying for help that you can provide. Please be as generous as you can, and give a tax-deductible gift by December 31.

ADF has supplied attorneys to fight marriage equality efforts in Maine, Maryland, Washington, Colorado, Deleware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.

Still, despite the organization’s fundraising prowess, the article suggests that ADF lacks high-profile victories and that in some instances its support for legislation can work against its goals.

“More and more states now allow same-sex marriage. Indeed the lead Senate sponsor of Delaware’s now-enacted marriage bill told ThinkProgress last year that the in his state ADF actually helped pass the bill by testifying against it,” the article states.

Follow Michael O’Loughlin on Twitter at @mikeoloughlin.

Contributor: 
Michael O'Loughlin