Two national litigation groups that specialize in lawsuits seeking to overturn LGBT rights laws issued a joint statement last week denouncing the National LGBT Bar Association for calling on the nation’s lawyers and law firms to refuse to provide free legal services for the two groups.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the Colorado baker in the now famous anti-LGBT Supreme Court decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, and the Liberty Counsel accused the D.C.-based National LGBT Bar Association of fomenting anti-religious bias.
“It is shameful that an association of lawyers wants to shut the courthouse doors to millions of Americans who believe in natural marriage and who oppose the anti-religious freedom agenda of some LGBT activists,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel.
“The courthouse should be open to all, no matter your beliefs,” Staver said in the joint statement. “The LGBT Bar Association is upset because Liberty Counsel and ADF are winning many important cases all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said.
“They might as well extend their so-called boycott to the justices on the High Court,” he added. “Their boycott is that ridiculous.”
Staver and the two groups were reacting to a nationwide initiative launched by the National LGBT Bar Association in July called the Commit to Inclusion Campaign. The campaign calls on lawyers and law firms to sign an online pledge not to provide pro bono, or free, legal services to Liberty Counsel and Alliance Defending Freedom or any of their respective clients.
“This campaign is a call to action to warn attorneys about the anti-LGBT legal groups and their dangerous and strategic efforts to chip away at legal protections for LGBT people,” said D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the National LGBT Bar Association in a statement.
“We are imploring the legal profession to hold back pro bono resources that would help these groups advance their discriminatory agenda,” Kemnitz said. “When you help anti-LGBT legal groups – even on matters not relating to LGBT issues – you hurt LGBT people,” she said.
Kemnitz told the Washington Blade this week that Alliance Defending Freedom is currently calling on the Supreme Court to take a case from the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which has acknowledged that an existing federal civil rights law protects transgender people from employment discrimination. She noted the anti-LGBT group’s involvement in the case is one of ADF’s and Liberty Counsel’s many efforts to overturn LGBT supportive court rulings.
“There have been times when larger law firms have taken on pro bono work for these groups on cases that weren’t directly LGBT related,” Kemnitz told the Washington Blade. “These groups promote a deliberate strategy to harm LGBT people in all sectors of their lives,” she said. “Helping the ADF/LC in any type of case strengthens them as they continue to hurt LGBT people.”
The National LGBT Bar Association, which is an official affiliate of the American Bar Association, says its members include lawyers, judges, other legal professionals, law students, activists and affiliated LGBT legal organizations.