By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – The right-wing group, Alliance Defending Freedom, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Yolo County Chapter of Moms for Liberty against the Yolo County Library for the incident that happened in late August that triggered nearly a month’s worth of bomb threats to the library and school district.
They have now filed suit, claiming a county employee violated their First Amendment right to free speech.
The incident occurred August 20, when a library official shut down a meeting held by Moms for Liberty at the library in Davis.
The suit argues that the library officials exceeded their authority when they shut down the meeting, believing “that their job is to enforce conformity with the government’s official views. They not only allow their ideological allies to disrupt speakers whose views they reject, they actively censor speech with which they disagree.”
Former college athlete Sophia Lorey was speaking at the event and was giving a presentation on participation of transgender girls and women on female sports teams.
During the presentation Lorey repeatedly referred to trans women as “men” or “biological men,” her use of misgendering language prompting one of the library officials who are a named defendant in the case to warn Lorey that she was “’misgendering,’ and threatened to eject her if she ‘misgendered’ again.”
At this point Clare Friday, one of the plaintiff’s, attempted to intervene. Friday serves as a regional lead for Our Duty, another group that purports to represent parents “who wish to protect their children from the harms of identifying with a gender identity inconsistent with their sex.”
Friday rose, according to the suit, “to speak about the importance of free speech for all, only to be interrupted and heckled by protestors.”
The library official reiterated to Lorey to “leave” due to her “misgendering” and against warned that if she did not leave, he would “shut down” the program.
At this point the meeting was shut down and the program was resumed outside.
“During this event, my First Amendment right was violated by a government official. And no matter if you disagree with me or agree with me, we have the right to speak, we have our freedom of speech, and I want anyone to be able to use that and not get shut down,” Lorey told local news station ABC 10 this week.
The plaintiffs intended to continue reserving meeting rooms at the Yolo County library to disseminate their views on topics that are unpopular in Yolo County, and they claim they sought assurances that the library “would cease discriminating against their viewpoints and take steps to enable their events at the public library.”
However, the defendants refused, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs wanted the librarian to confirm in writing the following:
- Plaintiffs and audience members could “express their understanding of sex and gender during the event, even if library officials consider this to be ‘misgendering’ or otherwise wrong or offensive”;
- Library officials would “not shut down the event or try to censor anyone that refers to a person whose natal sex is male as male, man, boy, he, or him, or that refers to a person whose natal sex is female as female, woman, girl, she, or her”;
- Library officials would “not take any adverse action against [Plaintiffs] or members of the audience based on their viewpoint related to gender identity or the sex or gender of participants in sports”;
- Library officials would “provide adequate security” and “promptly remove any attendee(s) that attempts to disrupt the event in any way, including but not limited to, shouting down or interrupting the speakers, making sounds that interfere with the speakers’ ability to be heard, blocking entrances or exits, or obstructing views”; and
- Plaintiffs could “hire private security” if they desired.
Filing the lawsuit is the group, Alliance Defending Freedom.
The group, founded in 1994 in Scottsdale, Arizona, is designated as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has “supported the recriminalization of sexual acts between consenting LGBTQ adults in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has contended that LGBTQ people are more likely to engage in pedophilia; and claims that a ‘homosexual agenda’ will destroy Christianity and society.”
According to SPLC, “Since the election of President Trump, ADF has become one of the most influential groups informing the administration’s attack on LGBTQ rights.”
The group interposed itself into the Lawerence v. Texas, Supreme Court decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that a Texas statute that banned consenting same sex adults from engaging in sexual acts violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause.
In an amicus brief filed in 2003 by ADF attorney Glen Lavy, he argued, “The issue under rational-basis review is not whether Texas should be concerned about opposite-sex sodomy, but whether it is reasonable to believe that same-sex sodomy is a distinct public health problem. It clearly is.”
In 2013, the group supported the recriminalization of consensual sex between adults of the same sex in India.
“When given the same choice the Supreme Court of the United States had in Lawrence vs. Texas, the Indian Court did the right thing. India chose to protect society at large rather than give in to a vocal minority of homosexual advocates. … America needs to take note that a country of 1.2 billion people has rejected the road towards same-sex marriage, and understood that these kinds of bad decisions in the long run will harm society,” said Benjamin Bull, former executive director of ADF Global.
In recent years, the group has taken on transgender issues, arguing, “Men who self-identify as women are still biological men,” said Marissa Mayer, senior web writer.
The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California.