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Antigay Florida Church Can Be Labeled 'Hate Group,' Judge Rules

CORAL RIDGE MINISTRIES

A Florida ministry that campaigned against same-sex marriage and "maligns the entire LGBT community" can be referred to as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a federal judge ruled this week.

Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries Media Inc., sued SPLC — a group advocating for the rights of marginalized people — in 2017 after it designated the ministry a "hate group." Coral Ridge also sued Amazon because the designation disqualified it from a program that allows customers of the online retailer to donate to nonprofits.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that the SPLC has a free-speech right to the hate group claim, but the judge didn't weigh in on whether he believes the ministry is indeed a hate group.

When Coral Ridge Ministries, which actively fought against the legalization of marriage equality, sued the SPLC two years ago, the civil rights organization defended its description of Coral Ridge.

"We list the D. James Kennedy Ministries through which Coral Ridge does business as a hate group because it maligns the entire LGBT community, portraying it as perverted and a threat to the nation," SPLC President Richard Cohen said in a statement at the time. "The fact that Coral Ridge claims its statements about the LGBT community are biblically based doesn’t immunize it from criticism. We have a First Amendment right to express our opinions, just as Coral Ridge has a right to express its opinions."

Clearly, a judge agreed.

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