'Scottsdale Discriminates' Ad Campaign Targets Scottsdale-Based Alliance Defending Freedom

Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2019 - 11:39am
Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2019 - 10:22am
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MARK BRODIE: The U.S. Supreme Court today is hearing arguments in two cases that could decide whether federal laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace based on sex also include LGBTQ employees. One case deals with whether a worker can be fired for their sexual orientation. The second case revolved around a funeral home employee who was fired after telling her boss she was transgender. In that case the funeral home is represented by the Scottsdale based Alliance Defending Freedom and that group is the target of a new ad campaign called Scottsdale Discriminates.

AD CLIP: I've always said food is the best way to bring people together, and I mean people — men who are clearly men and women who look like women should. Scottsdale' own Alliance Defending Freedom fights for my right to serve traditional dishes to traditional people. And they'll make sure I can fire a woman for wearing slacks ...

BRODIE: The ad ends with a chef saying "Thank you, ADF, for defending Scottsdale's freedom to discriminate." In another, a golfer is on the course with a similar message. Geoff Esposito is a partner with Creosote Partners, which is the spokesperson for the campaign. I spoke with him earlier and asked what the thinking is behind this campaign.

GEOFF ESPOSITO: So really what we're trying to do is educate the people and citizens of Scottsdale about this group, the so-called Alliance Defending Freedom, which in reality is hate group. They work every day, year round to take away the basic rights of LGBT people. They're a $50 million a year organization, and they work throughout the globe on these efforts to take away these rights, to criminalize people who are LGBT. So we're really just trying to educate folks that they operate here. They're headquartered here, right in our own backyard. Most people don't know about that. Most people don't even know they exist. So really we're just trying to call attention to this hate group that thinks that they can use Scottsdale to export their unique brand of hate.

BRODIE: Why do this now? I mean, this is a group that's been in Scottsdale for a while. They were involved in a pretty high profile case locally here with the Brush & Nib case with the Phoenix anti-discrimination ordinance. Why launch this campaign now?

ESPOSITO: Well today, actually, they're going to be arguing their case in front of the Supreme Court, that employers have a right to discriminate against LGBT people in the workplace. They want to be able to fire people just for who they are, and that's wrong. Right? And we need to call attention to it now. As you mentioned, they had the Brush & Nib case here in Phoenix. They're trying to take that nationwide. They're trying to take that brand of discrimination across the country. And we need to call attention to the fact that these people operate here in Arizona, in Scottsdale, and think that we're a good place to be their home base. And that's just wrong.

BRODIE: What would you like this campaign to lead to? What would you like to be an end result of this campaign?

ESPOSITO:  Well, we're hoping the people of Scottsdale stand up and say that they don't represent us, right? There's a lot that the residents of Scottsdale can do to demand action, to say that this is not reflective of our values. Something the city of Scottsdale can do right away is pass a nondiscrimination ordinance. If you take a look at the Human Rights Campaign municipal equality index, there's a lot of items on there that Scottsdale can take a lead on to push back and say, "ADF doesn't represent us. They don't represent our community. We stand for equality."

BRODIE: Is there a part of this campaign that is specifically targeting Scottsdale in addition to the Alliance Defending Freedom?

ESPOSITO: I think really what this is about is the Alliance Defending Freedom. It is calling attention to Scottsdale and the fact that they operate there and hopefully getting the city of Scottsdale to take some action to show that ADF doesn't represent them. But really this is about focusing on this hate group that tries to operate without anybody knowing that they exist but with a huge budget and a lot of legal backing behind them.

BRODIE: I'm curious about the idea that the group operates without anybody knowing they exist. I mean, their attorneys are fairly out front in the cases that they're working, right? I mean, with the Brush & Nib case, their attorneys were out front at press conferences and in court and everything. I'm curious what leads you to think that this is a group that's trying to do its work without people knowing it exists.

ESPOSITO: Really what I mean by that is that most people aren't aware. Right? They may know about the Brush & Nib case. They may know about the decision. They don't know that the group behind all of these cases, that the common thread is ADF.

BRODIE: Where are these ads running? Who in Scottsdale specifically are you trying to get to see them?

ESPOSITO: We're trying to get as many people in the city as Scottsdale to see them as possible. They're operating on cable television, on digital ads. We're trying to run the gamut here to make sure that wherever people can see them, they're going to see them so that we get as broad of an educational campaign here as possible.

BRODIE: All right that's Geoff Esposito a partner with Creosote Partners which is the spokesgroup for the Scottsdale Discriminates campaign. Geoff, thank you.

ESPOSITO: Have a great day.

BRODIE: We also reached out to Alliance Defending Freedom. The group's senior counsel sent us a statement which says, in part, "The charges in this web site are utterly false and defamatory, but even worse the names and caricatures they use to depict Scottsdale residents are themselves hateful. It is impossible to understand how this organization intends to rally support of local residents by insulting and lying about them." The statement goes on to say in part, "Alliance Defending Freedom is in fact the world's largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech and the sanctity of life." We'll post the group's entire statement at theshow.KJZZ.org

Alliance Defending Freedom's full statement:

The charges in this website are utterly false and defamatory. But even worse, the names and caricatures they use to depict Scottsdale residents are themselves hateful. It is impossible to understand how this organization intends to rally support of local residents by insulting and lying about them.

Their website marks the start of a new anonymous smear campaign by activists ashamed to identify themselves. It was apparently developed by a partisan lobbying shop that sells its influence services.

Alliance Defending Freedom is, in fact, the world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, and the sanctity of life. ADF has defended the rights of Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and people of no faith. We’ve won free speech victories on college campuses protecting students of varied religious faiths, as well as libertarian, conservative, pro-life, pro-conservationist, and LGBT students.

ADF is one of the nation’s most respected and successful United States Supreme Court advocates. ADF has played roles in 54 Supreme Court victories. Since 2011, ADF has represented parties in nine victories at the Supreme Court.

ADF stands up, in court, and defends our clients in public, under our own names. We work within the rule of law, not by smearing innuendo under cover of anonymity. If an activist group wants to take us on, they can start by signing their names to their deceit.

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