Canadian Anti-Hate Network
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an incredibly influential anti-2SLGBTQ+ and anti-abortion advocacy organization, appears to have planned an “executive summit” at one of Canada’s most prestigious hotels in Banff, Alberta.
Details are sparse, but metadata from a public-facing login portal shows a private retreat to the Fairmont Banff Springs for this week being billed under the ADF brand.
"The first-ever ADF Corporate Executive Summit is a private invitation-only event that will convene a select group of CEOs, business owners, and corporate counsel,” a description of the event reads, “to hear from the leading experts and collaborate on strategies to help religious liberty and freedom of speech flourish in America's corporate culture and workplaces."
A description of the summit extracted from metadata contained within a login portal for the event online.
Defined as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Alliance Defending Freedom has played a massively influential role in shaping American politics around the rights of LGBTQ people, legal access to safe abortions, and more.
While a promotional image for the summit names the Alliance Defending Freedom specifically, it is blurred on the event login. A closer look however reveals an unobscured version of the image in the page’s source code.
Promotional image for the ADF’s Corporate Executive Summit. Source: Cvent
The Fairmont’s media relations would not confirm if the Banff location is hosting the summit, citing privacy reasons. The representative adds that the company is “unwavering in our commitment to creating a welcoming space that supports diversity, equity and inclusion for both employees and guests.”
The representative did not respond to follow-up questions about a screening process for organizations and guests booking events at the hotel or if its inclusion policies mean groups like ADF would be unable to rent space.
A petition opposing the event also appeared online in March, indicating the date of the summit is April 3 to 5. Both the ADF and the Fairmont have declined to confirm if the event is currently ongoing or if it was moved to another location, or even took place at all.
By its own telling, the ADF was founded in 1994 and has since grown into the self-described “world's largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, the sanctity of life, parental rights, and God's design for marriage and family.”
Its US-based work focuses on legal advocacy around issues of parental rights, freedom of speech and religion, and reproductive rights. In 2022, ADF’s CEO told Bloomberg Law the organization had 450 employees and earned more than $100 million in revenue. ADF claims on its website to have 92 employees across seven offices outside the US representing its international chapters.
The organization has recently been in the news after Elisa Rae Shupe, a former “detransition” activist leaked her entire email inbox to Mother Jones and several other journalists. The emails reveal coordination between Shupe and multiple other anti-transgender organizations, including the ADF, the Family Policy Alliance, and the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF). Leaks of over 2,600 pages of emails are available online.
The Southern Poverty Law Center designated the ADF as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group in 2016 as a “result of ADF’s propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people'' including the conspiracy theories about a “homosexual agenda” to undermine Christian family values. The SPLC also accuses the organization of demonizing LGBT people, supporting the criminalization of homosexual sex, and its push for laws and policies that would allow “Christians to deny goods and services to LGBT people in the public sphere and marginalize LGBT students in schools.”
While the ADF does have a page on its website denying some of the accusations and characterization made about the discriminatory nature of its advocacy, the SPLC released a detailed summary backing up its claims, including quotes from ADF material and material released by its leadership.
Other noted advocacy includes advocating against changes to laws in several European states that, among other things, required sterilization of transgender people before they were able to legally change their gender.
Other legislation the ADF has taken a direct role in defending includes Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization before the US Supreme Court. The case was used to overturn Roe v. Wade, which enshrined abortion as a right in the US. Individual states are now able to enact new or existing legislation that effectively criminalizes abortion.
The ADF also provided legal counsel during the 2018 Masterpiece Cake Shop case, where a cake shop owner denied business to a gay couple on the basis of their sexuality. ADF president, CEO, and general counsel Kristen Waggoner successfully argued the case, and others, in front of the supreme court.