That “hate group” they’re so angry with is the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) saw fit to label a “hate group” because — you guessed it — they uphold traditional marriage values and defend Christians like Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips who're targeted for their religious beliefs.
Like other organizations that sponsor specialty plates, the ADF currently gets a portion of the $25 "In God We Trust" license plates, which ADOT says goes toward promoting the national motto. By law, the ADF "must use the donations to promote the national motto 'in God we trust', first amendment rights and the heritage of this state and nation."
ADOT records the ADF as having received more than $820,000 from the religious liberty plates since 2014.
ADF’s mission is to “keep the doors open for the Gospel by advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.” As we all know, when you don’t support leftist ideologies you’re going to be labeled as one who hates, is a bigot, or you’re a racist homophobe.
Kristen Waggoner, the ADF’s senior vice president of U.S. Legal Division, defended her organization by saying the SPLC has falsely characterized the group’s work.
“It’s widely known that the Southern Poverty Law Center engages in baseless smear campaigns aimed at destroying groups with which it disagrees, and it only attacks groups on the right,” Waggoner said in a statement. "It’s disappointing to see elected officials become uncritical pawns in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s ugly propaganda campaigns.”
State Sen. Juan Mendez (D) is one of those “pawns” Waggoner is referring to. The Democrat proposed a law that would stop Arizona’s Department of Transportation (ADOT) from selling the customized plate that people voluntarily buy.
“Hopefully in the future we can put in place some commonsense guidelines that would bar hate groups from earning money through Arizona license plates,” Mendez said in a press release obtained by the newspaper. “State dollars should not be funding an organization that works to strip residents of our state of their human rights and human dignity. It’s appalling that we’ve already sent over a million dollars to this extremist hate group.”
It almost sounds like Mendez is referring to Planned Parenthood, but I digress.
"We were appalled by it," said Tory Roberg, the director of government affairs for the Secular Coalition for Arizona (SCA). "People really need to know where their money is going."
In response to the SCA’s desire to destroy the ADF and shut them up, Waggoner made it clear that freedom of speech is still a thing and that her organization was entitled to express themselves as they saw fit.
“Secular Coalition for Arizona has the same opportunity as any other non-profit group to create a license plate that expresses their view,” she said. “Rather than shutting down speech, they should add to the conversation with their own perspective. That’s how free speech works in this country. Arizona is well within its rights to offer its citizens an opportunity to voluntarily purchase license plates affirming the First Amendment and contributing, in this case, to the pro-bono work ADF does to protect freedom of speech, religion, and conscience for all Americans. The way to counter speech you disagree with is not to use the government to banish a message like ‘In God We Trust,’ but simply to speak your own view.”
Couldn’t have said that better myself.