Michael Farris Says Virginia’s LGBTQ Equality Law Creates ‘Constitutional Crisis,’ Urges Religious-Right Voters to ‘Turn it Around’

Alliance Defending Freedom President Mike Farris at Supreme Court rally, April 29, 2017. (Photo: Peter Montgomery / Right Wing Watch)

Michael Farris, who heads the religious-right legal giant Alliance Defending Freedom, told participants in a Family Research Council town hall Feb. 10 that Virginia is in a “constitutional crisis” because nondiscrimination protections that became law last year in that state accomplished “virtually everything” that would be done at the federal level if the Equality Act passes.

Farris described those provisions as the state “invading” the church and said that ADF is challenging the Virginia legislation in court.

“It’s like the French Revolution going on in Richmond right now,” Farris told home-school activist Heidi St. John on her “Off the Bench” podcast last week, adding, “We’ve got to turn it around.” A few days later, St. John launched her campaign for Congress in the state of Washington.

At the recent town hall, Farris told FRC’s Tony Perkins that ADF has been looking “for months” for a plaintiff willing to challenge a gay rights ordinance in another southern state, which he did not name.

Farris also told St. John that ADF is expanding and is preparing to launch a new project taking on what conservatives call “cancel culture.” Farris said ADF has had to think through the distinction between a business owner refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple—something ADF has defended—and a company like Facebook or big banks cutting off right-wing organizations.

The difference, he said, is that monopolies are illegal and violate the principles of free enterprise. He claimed that a “philosophical cabal” is out to “block a whole group of people out of the economy and public life.” Farris said ADF is actively considering legal strategies and methodologies and looking to raise a few million dollars to support a team of lawyers to take on the issue.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which has hundreds of staff and a large network of affiliated attorneys, plays a key role in the anti-LGBTQ-equality movement’s strategy to weaponize religious liberty against nondiscrimination laws. In 2003, ADF urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold state sodomy laws, and ADF’s international arm has defended laws criminalizing homosexuality.