Court dismisses lawsuit from anti-gay hate group that doesn’t like being called an anti-gay hate group
A court has dismissed complaints from anti-LGBT hate group Liberty Counsel, which was upset at being referred to as an anti-LGBT hate group.
Evangelical legal group the Liberty Counsel has a history of spreading anti-LGBT propaganda and is classified as a hate group by extremism watchdog the Southern Poverty Law Center due to its aggressive messaging and tactics.
The group – which has also been helping Republican lawmakers draft anti-LGBT legislation, as well as attempting to push anti-LGBT laws around the world – is not thrilled with the label, however.
It attempted to take legal action against charity ratings website GuideStar, which had put a label on the Liberty Counsel’s noting its hate group designation and anti-LGBT stances.
The group claimed that the label was “defamatory” – but a federal judge in Virginia this month dismissed the lawsuit.
Judge Raymond A. Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted GuideStar’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Liberty Counsel, finding that the speech was not covered by the commercial law that the group had attempted to bring action under.
In a statement, GuideStar said: “GuideStar is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to encourage philanthropy by providing information about nonprofits that members of the public can use to make educated and informed decisions about their relationships with and donations to these nonprofits.
“In the lawsuit, Liberty Counsel alleged that GuideStar had violated the federal Lanham Act regulating unfair competition and false advertising by including in its Nonprofit Profile the Southern Poverty Law Center’s designation of Liberty Counsel as a ‘hate group’.
“GuideStar promptly moved to dismiss, arguing that this notation was not commercial speech and did not violate the Lanham Act.
“In a 10-page decision issued today, the Court agreed. It ruled that the notation was ‘an informative statement’ and was ‘not commercial speech’ under the Lanham Act.”
Liberty Counsel said in a statement that it is considering an appeal of the decision.
Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel said: “Despite GuideStar’s admission that it was seeking to influence the purchasing decisions of its constituents and the general public, the court without much analysis ruled such a goal is not commercial in nature.
“The GuideStar publication was designed to inflict financial harm because its purpose was to affect the financial transactions of the public. The SPLC false label has become discredited and it has proven to be dangerous as history has shown with the attack against Family Research Council. This false label applied to non-violent and law-abiding groups must stop.”
The Liberty Counsel rose to national prominence after providing free legal representation to embattled Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, when she refused to carry out her duties because of same-sex marriage.
Liberty Counsel’s head Mat Staver has falsely claimed that first responders at last year’s Pulse nightclub shooting had to “get tested for AIDS-related conditions” because of the blood of gay victims.
He claimed: “There was a narrative that the Obama administration and local politicians wanted to promote, and it was the rainbow flag, and anti-gay, and it really was a terrorism issue.
“In regards to the Pulse nightclub, as tragic as it is, some of these officers have, no doubt, gone through trauma as well.
“They were going through the Pulse nightclub, it was blood everywhere and now they’re having to get tested for AIDS-related conditions because they’re literally walking in pools of blood.”
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LC President Anita Staver previously claimed she takes a gun to the toilet in case there are any transgender women in there.
Ms Staver tweeted: “I’m taking a Glock .45 to the ladies room. It identifies as my bodyguard. #BoycottTarget”.
She added: “I want protection from the perverts who will use the law to gain access to women.”