The comptroller of the state of Connecticut is launching an investigation into whether the American Family Association (AFA) violated the state’s anti-discrimination regulations that govern the state employees charitable giving campaign.
As state comptroller, Kevin Lembo, who identifies himself in a press release as “Connecticut’s first openly gay statewide elected official,” administers the Connecticut State Employee Campaign for Charitable Giving (CSEC). His office says all organizations that receive donations from state employees are required to submit an “anti-discrimination certification” each year. Lembo states he is questioning whether AFA is actually delivering any charitable services at all and also suggests AFA is breaking CSEC’s anti-discrimination rules.
AFA is leading a successful campaign to boycott Target after the retailer jumped into the transgender bathroom debate by allowing men who claim to be women to use the women’s restrooms in its stores.
The leftwing Southern Poverty Law Center rates AFA as an anti-LGBT “extremist group.”
“The AFA’s actions and statements are extremely troubling to me,” Lembo said, adding:
The AFA’s public statements and mission not only appear to discriminate against the LGBTQ communities, as well as Muslims who choose to serve and protect our country by enlisting in the U.S. military, but it remains unclear what actual charitable services the AFA provides that qualifies it to participate in the CSEC. I am, therefore, initiating an investigation to determine whether AFA is in compliance with the requirements of the CSEC.
“We have a responsibility to donors to ensure that participating organizations abide by the rules and regulations of the CSEC, particularly those that ensure inclusiveness and protection against discrimination,” said Lembo, who is considered to be a potential candidate for governor.
In a letter to AFA president Tim Wildmon, Lembo wrote:
The AFA, on its website, claims that it seeks to “hold companies accountable” that “attack traditional family values.”
However, a review of AFA’s statements on its website, in published reports and on social media indicate that its so-called attempts to protect family values involve “combatting the homosexual agenda” by boycotting companies that promote equal treatment, tolerance and acceptance of all families and marriages.
Lembo goes on to attack AFA’s “nationwide petition to boycott Target for the company’s inclusive transgender restroom policy” and its criticism of jewelry retailer Zales for its ads for wedding bands for same-sex couples.
“These actions and statements are extremely troubling to me – not only as an openly gay father and spouse – but as administrator of the CSEC,” Lembo states. He continued AFA must provide his office with:
[W]ritten documentation of your organization’s stated policy of non-discrimination…affirming that the AFA does not discriminate…against any person or group…because of…race, color, religious creed, age, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, national origin, ancestry, present or past history of mental disability, intellectual disability, learning disability or physical disability…
According to CT Mirror, over the past five years, state employees have donated only $114 to AFA.
In a statement, AFA says Connecticut’s charitable giving program allows state employees to donate to the charity of their choice, and that the group had been approved. The group calls Lembo’s actions “intolerant,” and states:
This is a state government official coming directly after your AFA, and the letter is nothing more than an attack on AFA for standing strong for Biblical principles. Moreover, it is an unconstitutional attack on the First Amendment rights of all religious organizations. The government is not allowed to dictate to religious charities what they can believe in order to participate in the public square.
Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, tells Breitbart News his group “will do whatever we can in this matter to make Comptroller Lembo understand that people with traditional values are citizens too and that they have the same rights and privileges as those citizens whose politics are more to his liking,”
In a statement to Breitbart News, spokeswoman for Lembo Tara Downes said Lembo’s investigation into AFA was “prompted by a complaint by a state employee and a review of AFA’s public statements.”