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Guess Who’s Coming to COCC: A Former Counsel for an Anti-LGBT Hate Group


A couple days ago, Georgetown’s Division of Student Affairs sent out an email blast listing the speakers at the upcoming 2020 Cardinal O’Connor Conference (COCC) on Life. One of those due to speak at a panel on ‘The Consistent Life Ethic & The Law’ is Catherine Glenn Foster, current head of the anti-abortion lobby group Americans United for Life, and according to her biography on the COCC website, former ‘Litigation Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom.’ Strangely, what Foster’s biography fails to mention is that the ADF has been designated an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Is this the kind of person that Georgetown is willing to welcome and give a platform to?

Foster spent seven years working at ADF, from 2009 and 2016. Just six years before she joined the organization, the ADF filed an amicus brief in the now-famous Supreme Court case on the criminalization of gay sex, Lawrence vs. Texas. The brief described gay sex as “a distinct public health problem” and stated that “rationality does not require Texas to treat same-sex sodomy like opposite sex-sodomy.” That same year, the then-head of the ADF co-authored a book titled The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing The Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today, which predicted that that if sodomy laws were removed, the legalization of pedophilia and bestiality would follow.

The ADF continued to promote anti-LGBT ideology throughout Foster’s time there. In 2011, one of her colleagues, Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, attacked Hillary Clinton for arguing that “the freedom to engage in homosexual behavior is a basic human right that even trumps religious freedom.” The ADF remains opposed to same-sex marriage – its website states that “marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman” and that “opponents of marriage will not stop at removing the foundation of civilization.” One so-called ‘Media Reference Guide’ produced by the ADF that was available on their website between 2012 and 2014 tells media outlets to stop using terms like ‘gender identity,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘hate crimes,’ and ‘homophobia,’ and instead use ‘gender confusion,’ ‘cross-dressing,’ ‘so-called “hate” crimes’ and ‘convictions against homosexual behavior.’

In recent years, the focus of the ADF has increasingly shifted towards working against trans rights; it produced ‘model’ legislation designed to restrict trans people’s access to sex-segregated areas, especially bathrooms, which has been copied by many states. In 2016 the ADF sued a school in Minnesota for allowing a trans female student to use the female toilets and changing rooms, claiming that this had caused other students ‘distress.’ The suit consistently misgendered the student throughout court documents, and argued that when it comes to gender, there are “two objective, fixed, binary classes.”

This is only a small fraction of the anti-LGBT ideology pursued and promoted by the ADF – unfortunately the list runs much longer, and that is without touching on the ADF’s anti-women and anti-choice activities. Catherine Glenn Foster’s involvement with this hate group is not only offensive to all Georgetown students, especially those who are members of the LGBT+ community, but also to Georgetown’s promotion of respect as part of its cura personalis ideal. If Georgetown truly aspires to care for the whole person, then it should put its money where its mouth is, instead of greeting individuals linked to hate groups with open arms.

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