The recent spate of anti-LGBTQ laws cropping up around the country have caused many to question where they’re all coming from, and why they’re all happening now. A recent investigation by CBS News has connected the dots and posed one possible answer.
The investigation found that Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based conservative group which bills itself as a non-profit committed to “advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family”, has placed lawyers in all 50 states with the express intention to draft and lobby for anti-LGBTQ legislation. Liberty Counsel founder Matt Staver has stated that these actions are in direct response to the 2015 Supreme Court opinion on marriage, telling CBS that the ruling “lit the house on fire. All we’re trying to do is control the fire at this point in time.” Staver and the Liberty Counsel both allege that the bills were actions of religious freedom rather than discrimination.
Both Staver and Liberty Counsel have faced criticism for their adamant anti-LGBTQ views. Staver, who represented infamous Kentucky clerk Kim Davis as she stood trial for refusing to grant a marriage licence to a same-sex couple, has been called out by the HRC and GLADD (among others), and the Liberty Counsel has been listed as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Counsel equates homosexuality with incest, opposes laws banning hate crimes as “refuges for pedophiles”, and supports dangerous conversion therapies that have been discredited by every major medical organization in the United States.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, was quoted as saying that “a group that regularly portrays gay people as perverse, diseased pedophiles putting Western civilization at risk are way, way over the line”.
CBS’s investigation has found that bills tied to the Liberty Counsel have already been filed in at least 20 states.