In his book The Global Right Wing and the Clash of World Politics, political scientist Clifford Bob from Duquesne University describes how, in 2006, evangelical pastors in Romania sought the help of anti-abortion campaigners in the United States to campaign for “natural marriage”.
When the Romanian pastors created an organisation to defend traditional marriage in 2007, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) helped. “There was clearly a need and a desire there,” Bob quotes ADF Chief Counsel Benjamin Bull as saying. “We simply helped shape and define the organisation.”
ADF resurfaced during the 2016 campaign for a referendum led by the Coalition for Family, filing an advisory document to the Constitutional Court, which was assessing whether the referendum was constitutional. Other US groups specialising in litigation in favour of evangelical values, including Liberty Counsel, also filed submissions.
Asked what kind of support ADF offered to the Coalition for Family, Adina Portaru, a Romanian lawyer on staff at ADF International’s Brussels office, replied in a written statement: “As a Romanian lawyer I represented ADF International before the Constitutional Court to argue that this citizens’ initiative should be allowed to proceed.”
In another statement sent by email, she said: “The Romanian Coalition for Family and ADF International are independent organisations. We co-hosted the conference Referendum for the Family: Analysis and Implications at the Romanian parliament in Bucharest in 2017 and a second conference in 2018 [in parliament] on the issue of national and international perspectives on marriage. The 2018 conference had six co-organisers, one of which was ADF International.” Speakers at the conference in Romania’s parliament this year argued for the urgency of organising a referendum. They included Croatian anti-abortion activist Željka Markić, founder of In the Name of the Family, and Ludovine de la Rochere, leader of French ultra-conservative organisation La Manif pour tous.
In Brussels, ADF International shares the same office, a rented apartment, with European Dignity Watch, EDW. While EDW is an older group — founded in 2010, five years before ADF International — it appears to work in symbiosis with ADF International. Sophia Kuby, the former executive director of EDW, became EU advocacy director at ADF International in 2015, when the latter launched.
EDW organises communications and advocacy training for activists. Željka Markić has been a trainer for EDW. According to photos from the EDW website, Ana Corina Sacrieru, a lawyer representing Romania’s Coalition for Family, attended EDW trainings. According to EDW’s annual financial records filed at the Brussels Commercial Court, EDW paid 1,324 euros to Željka Markić in 2015. EDW did not reply to questions about the payment and the director declined interview requests. Markić did not respond to written questions or interview requests.