This White House official took a free trip to an anti-LGBT ‘hate group’ summit

Donald Trump

A White House official was given a free trip to attend a “religious liberty” summit created by an anti-LGBT+ “hate group”, according to a travel report released by the US government.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) has designated the legal advocacy and training organisation Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) an “anti-LGBTQ hate group”.

According to the SPLC, the organisation “has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the US and criminalization abroad, has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad, has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a ‘homosexual agenda’ will destroy Christianity and society”.

ADF was also behind the spread of “bathroom bills” in 2017, which sought to stop trans Americans accessing bathrooms that correspond with their gender.

But government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has uncovered that in August 2019 ADF paid more than $2,000 for Jennifer Lichter, deputy assistant to the President for domestic policy, to attend its “Summit on Religious Liberty”.

white house official alliance defending freedom summit

(Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

CREW said in a press release that although it is “not unusual” for a non-federal conservative organisation to pay for a White House official to attend an event, the trip “suggests the group’s influence is expanding within the Trump administration”.

Lichter’s trip is not the first time the Trump administration has been involved with ADF.

Trump’s former Attorney General and hardline opponent of LGBT+ rights, Jeff Sessions, worked to undermine protections for LGBT+ people across the federal government and to reverse Obama administration guidance.

It was discovered in 2017 that he had made decisions with extensive consultation with ADF.

According to ABC, ADF chief Michael Farris confirmed that Sessions had repeatedly met with the group while “seeking suggestions regarding the areas of federal protection for religious liberty most in need of clarification or guidance.”

Sessions also gave speeches at the ADF “religious liberty summit”, the same event attended by Lichter, in 2017 and 2018.