If you thought there have been a recent rash of laws targeting the use of restrooms by trans people and also against LGBT people in general you are right. CBS News found the group responsible for the push in these bigoted laws is none other than the Liberty Counsel, an extremist religious conservative law firm connected to Liberty University run by Mathew Staver. Staver was the lawyer who helped ‘martyr’ Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis when she refused to do her job and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Demonstrators against the so-called bathroom bills were out in force in South Carolina — their chants echoing those in other states where they say legislatures have enacted laws enabling bigotry.
But while they protested, the conservative group, that’s helped author many of those measures protecting religion over sexual orientation, was working at its Orlando area office on new ways to uphold what it says is really at stake.
“It is only about being free to pursue your faith,” said Mathew Staver. “We have no interest in discriminating against anyone.”
Staver is the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which has affiliated attorneys in all 50 states — drafting bills, advising lawmakers and defending clients in what they believe to be the great cultural clash of our time.
CBS News first met Staver when he defended a Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis who said it was against her religion to hand out marriage licenses to homosexuals. Lately, Liberty Counsel has been helping to draft legislation for conservative lawmakers in at least 20 states.
Their bills began cropping up in state legislatures soon after the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage last year.
An objective observer could conclude that they want to push back against that ruling.
“Well I certainly want to push back against that ruling,” Staver said. “It was a wrong ruling. It has no basis in the constitution.”
Where are they going with this?
“The Supreme Court in the 5-4 opinion on marriage in 2015 lit the house on fire,” Staver said. “All we’re trying to do is control the fire at this point in time.”
And he is unfazed by corporate threats to pull out of states in protest against his work.
“They’re not gonna follow through,” Staver said.
So it’s a bluff?
“It’s a bluff. They’re not leaving,” he said.
Just like Staver is wrong about the same-sex marriage ruling not being based in the constitution, he is wrong about companies and others bluffing about pulling out of North Carolina and other states that pass these ignorant laws.
This isn’t the first time Liberty Council has tried to hurt Americans. During the debate over the Affordable Care Act in 2009, Staver’s group passed on false talking points about the proposed law.
On July 29, 2009, Liberty Counsel released its talking points about the health care reform bill. Among the many parts of the legislation it raises concerns about is the page cited by Palin, about which it states:
* Sec. 1233, Pg. 425, Lines 4-12 – Government mandates Advance (Death) Care Planning consultation. Think Senior Citizens and end of life. END-OF-LIFE COUNSELING. SOME IN THE ADMINISTRATION HAVE ALREADY DISCUSSED RATIONING HEALTH CARE FOR THE ELDERLY.
* Sec. 1233, Pg. 425, Lines 17-19 – Government WILL instruct and consult regarding living wills and durable powers of attorney. Mandatory end-of-life planning!
* Sec. 1233, Pg. 425-426, Lines 22-25, 1-3 – Government provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death.
The section of the bill referred to does nothing resembling “rationing health care for the elderly” or “guiding you in death.” As we already noted, it simply promotes advance care planning under the Medicare program by encouraging doctors to discuss with their patients advance directives such as living wills and durable powers of attorney — legal documents that give individuals the power to state what they want in advance so that decision isn’t left up to anyone else. You can read the entire bill with the pertinent page numbers here [pdf].
Far-right religious group behind ‘death panels’ myth linked to other health reform distortions
Liberty Counsel is also listed as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.