PHOENIX, AZ — An Arizona lawmaker wants to prevent a Valley non-profit from cashing in on the state's specialty license plate program.
Across the state, thousands of motorists purchased Arizona's "In God We Trust" license plate. Seventeen dollars from every sale goes to Alliance Defending Freedom. Since 2014, that's added up to nearly $900,000 dollars.
Kristen Waggoner, the Senior Vice President for ADF in Arizona says, "what matters is what is being supported at Alliance. We support First Amendment rights for all Americans, regardless of their walk of life or political persuasion."
Alliance Defending Freedom successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. The Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because it violated his religious beliefs.
ADF is also defending two Evangelical Christian women who are challenging the City of Phoenix's non-discrimination law.
State Senator Juan Mendez of Tempe believes ADF's opposition to LGBTQ rights should disqualify it from any financial benefit it receives thru Arizona's Specialty License program. "We're not supposed to be sanctioning any kind of religion," Mendez says, "especially something like this. They have an outward stated hatred toward the people I love and work with."
Senator Mendez has co-sponsored two bills. One would revoke the specialty license plate proceeds to Alliance. The other requires more transparency from the Arizona Department of Transportation. The agency would have to spell out in greater detail who benefits from the specialty plates and what do those organizations do. Neither bill is scheduled for a hearing.
Waggoner says, "this is a program all non-profits can participate in and Senator Mendez is trying to force people out of the public square when he doesn't agree with their views."
But Senator Mendez counters Alliance is not preserving the rights of everyone, only the people it wishes to advocate on behalf of, "these people are trying to re-write this idea of religious freedom."