During a panel at Family Research Council's (FRC) Values Voter Summit, the group’s President Tony Perkins clearly identified how FRC works “hand in hand” alongside extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to affect policies related to LGBTQ people, going straight to the White House to influence policy related to ADF’s cases.
Both ADF and FRC have ties to the Trump administration. Perkins is currently the chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, has a long-established relationship with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and reportedly had a role in drafting the administration’s ban on transgender service members. Media Matters has also identified more than 100 government officials with ties to ADF, some of whom work at the federal level.
Family Research Council is one of the most influential and extreme anti-LGBTQ groups in the country, and the Values Voter Summit is its signature event. Trump will be addressing the conference on October 12 as a reach to his base as calls for his impeachment grow. At the annual conference, Perkins moderated an October 11 panel titled “Religious Freedom Successes under the Trump Administration” that featured ADF attorney Caleb Dalton, First Liberty Institute’s client Col. Leland Bohannon, and ADF’s clients Joanna Duka, who owns a calligraphy business, and Don Vander Boon, owner of a beef company.
In 2015, Vander Boon was found to be out of compliance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “Anti-Harassment Policy Statement” for placing “an article condemning gay marriage on the table of the company’s lunchroom.” In 2017, new USDA policy guidelines allowed for him to place the discriminatory documents.
Perkins, who boasted during the panel that FRC worked with Trump on “the executive order on religious freedom,” had predicted in 2017 that the particular USDA policy would affect Vander Boon. Perkins had said that the real impact of the executive order was “at the cabinet level, where leaders can put real teeth to the president's words,” and he had also claimed that “the influence of conservative stalwarts like Sonny Perdue or Secretary Tom Price of HHS, who are both taking meaningful strides to act, will be felt.” Perkins had also acknowledged that he discussed the issue with Vice President Mike Pence “and other White House officials.”
During the panel, Perkins boasted that ADF and FRC worked “hand in hand” to resolve Vander Boon’s case. ADF handled the legal side while FRC “worked on the policy side, even taking this to the White House after the election.”
From the October 11 panel discussion at the Values Voter Summit: