NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday hosted an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to discuss two recently passed anti-LGBT laws in North Carolina and Mississippi. NPR did not disclose ADF’s history of extreme anti-LGBT legal work or push back against the group's mischaracterization of protections for transgender people.
On the April 10 edition of NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, host Rachel Martin invited ADF attorney Matt Sharp to discuss the passage of state anti-LGBT legislation, including a North Carolina law that repealed the city of Charlotte's nondiscrimination ordinance protecting LGBT people.
Martin described ADF as “an organization that backs religious freedom laws,” but didn't mention the group's history of anti-LGBT extremism, including promoting the criminalization of homosexuality and describing the anti-gay murder of Matthew Shepard as a hoax.
During the segment, Sharp falsely claimed that the North Carolina law was passed to repeal ordinances that would allow “men to use the same restrooms as girls and women.” In reality, Charlotte's ordinance did not allow “men” to use women’s bathrooms but rather allowed transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Martin failed to push back against this mischaracterization, responding only that in women’s bathrooms around the world “there is no exposure to anyone’s biological anatomy” because of bathroom stalls:
RACHEL MARTIN (HOST): Can you explain what has been happening in North Carolina that you believe made this bill necessary?
MATT SHARP: The primary motivation was the city of Charlotte passing an ordinance that would have allowed, in all businesses and public schools and other facilities, men to use the same restrooms as girls and women. That's violating their right to privacy. And so the North Carolina legislature and governor, seeing this and the impact this was going to have, took steps to reverse this and to make sure that across the state no individual would ever have to give up their right to privacy and be forced to share the same facilities as someone of the opposite sex.
MARTIN: And I'm sorry to get into things that are so intimate, but it's an intimate law about very private issues. When you're going into a woman's bathroom, everywhere around the world, you go into stalls. So there is no exposure to anyone's biological anatomy.
Sharp continued to provide misinformation, falsely claiming that Mississippi's new "religious freedom" law, which has been called the “most sweeping anti-LGBT” legislation in the U.S., is “in no way ... meant to allow the LGBT community to be denied goods and services.” In fact, the bill does allow the denial of goods and services, as well as allowing medical professionals to refuse necessary treatment for LGBT people and employers to establish sex-specific standards regarding dress and bathroom use. The bill also allows state employees to refuse to provide services involved in “authorizing or licensing legal marriages.”
This isn't the first time NPR has given an uncritical platform to an anti-LGBT extremist. In December, NPR's Diane Rehm admitted that her program had erred in failing to properly identify an anti-gay hate group fellow from the Family Research Council, saying, “We have to do a better job of being more careful about identification.”