Organizations again labeled 'hate groups' over beliefs on marriage

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The Southern Poverty Law Center has again named mainstream organizations to its list of "hate groups" in the 2020 publication of its annual "Year of Hate and Extremism" report.

The report, which was released Feb. 1, purports to create an easy-to-search list of "hate groups" in the United States, broken down by state. While the list includes neo-Nazi, white nationalist, and chapters of the Ku Klux Klan, the 2020 list also includes mainstream organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, C-FAM, Liberty Counsel, and the Ruth Institute.

These groups are listed under the header "Anti-LGBTQ", as they are opposed to same-sex marriage.

The inclusion of the Alliance Defending Freedom as a "hate group" raised eyebrows in 2016, when the law firm was first listed. ADF has won numerous cases at the Supreme Court, including cases related to the HHS contraception mandate.

"ADF believes that all people are made in the image of God and that everyone is worthy of dignity and respect," says an article on the firm's website titled "Setting the record straight."

"While ADF takes legal and policy positions that are informed by a biblically-based understanding of marriage, human sexuality, and the sanctity of life, we respect the human dignity of those with whom we disagree and win legal cases that also protect their freedom to express and advocate for their beliefs," they said.
In 2017, when the Ruth Institute was classified as a "hate group," the organization lost the ability to fundraise online. Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute, told the National Catholic Register that the institute was denied its application for the "Amazon Smile" program, which sends portions of purchases to charities in the program, because of the SPLC's "hate" designation.

"The Ruth Institute's primary focus is family breakdown and its impact on children: understanding it, healing it, ending it. If this makes us a 'hate group,' so be it," Morse said in September 2017 in response to the controversy.

The SPLC was founded in 1971 and originally monitored persons and groups fighting the civil rights movement. It began to track racist and white supremacist groups like neo-Nazis and affiliates of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1980s. It also claims to monitor other "extremist" groups such as "anti-immigrant" and "anti-Muslim" groups.

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