Freedom Foundation Hired Staff Trained by Hate Group

What does it say about an organization if it is sourcing its attorneys from a group that has been designated a “Hate Group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)? Well, when that organization is the Freedom Foundation, that’s just par for the course.

The Washington state-based anti-worker Freedom Foundation, which also operates in Oregon and California, employs at least three attorneys trained by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative and virulently anti-LGBTQ legal group designated a “Hate Group” by the well-respected SPLC in its 2017 annual report.

The Southern Policy Law Center said of ADF, “Leaders of the legal advocacy organization and its affiliated lawyers have regularly demonized LGBT people, falsely linking them to pedophilia, calling them ‘evil’ and a threat to children and society, and blaming them for the ‘persecution of devout Christians.’ The group also has supported the criminalization of homosexuality in several countries.”

Three members of the Freedom Foundation’s legal team were “Blackstone Legal Fellows” with the Alliance Defending Freedom prior to being hired by the Freedom Foundation. According to the ADF’s website, “The Blackstone Legal Fellowship is sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy organization dedicated to protecting religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family…The Blackstone Legal Fellowship seeks to cultivate a new generation of leaders throughout the legal culture that is propelled by this vision of the law to foster legal systems that fully protect our God-given rights.”

Litigation counsel David Dewhurst is a former Blackstone Fellow. Dewhirst authored a paper that examined the role of accrediting institutions. He expressed concern about the ability of accrediting institutions to “impose” their values on educational institutes, including prohibiting “discrimination on the basis of, among other things, sexual orientation.” He cited an example of a graduate student who was dismissed for refusing to provide counseling to a gay student because of her “deeply held religious beliefs.” Dewhurst also served as a law clerk for the Christian Legal Centre, a newer and smaller version of the Alliance Defending Freedom in the United Kingdom.

Like Dewhirst, Freedom Foundation litigation counsel James Abernathy and Stephanie Olson also were Blackstone Legal Fellows with the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Not only has the Freedom Foundation hired these ADF-trained attorneys, it also gave the Alliance Defending Freedom a platform from which to spew its hateful rhetoric. On December 30, 2014, ADF’s Kristin Waggoner appeared on the Freedom Daily podcast with Jeff Rhodes to discuss ADF’s defense of “a Washington florist being sued for declining to cater a same-sex wedding.”

Interestingly enough, one of the Freedom Foundation’s largest public individual donors, the Murdock Charitable Trust, is also a donor to the Alliance Defending Freedom. With so much in common with an anti-LGBT Hate Group, it’s no wonder that working families do not trust the Freedom Foundation.