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James Lankford complains to ABC for saying Alliance Defending Freedom is a 'hate group'

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The article described Jeff Sessions' closed-door address on July 11 to the religious freedom organization. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., complained to ABC on Monday for labeling the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom a "hate group" in a July 12 article.

"I found it odd that ABC would designate ADF as a hate group not based on any actual crime or action, but apparently based on their belief in religious liberty or traditional marriage," Lankford said in a letter to the network. "Since I think I can confidently assume that ABC News is a strong supporter of the First Amendment, why would ABC News label a peaceful group as a ‘hate group' simply because of a difference of opinion?"

The article, headlined "Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,' but DOJ won't release his remarks," described Sessions' closed-door address on July 11 to the religious freedom organization, and generated controversy by labeling ADF an "anti-LGBT hate group."

ADF is labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. But Lankford argued that the "label of ‘hate' cannot be taken lightly" and said the "SPLC's definition of a ‘hate group' is overtly broad and not based in fact."

"In this country, we have the ability and freedom to disagree," Lankford said. "However, disagreement is not the same as discrimination and it's not the same as hate."

"It is my hope that we can all, including the press, take more responsibility for our words and actions, because they matter," he added. "Not just to each other, but to the rest of the world."

ABC News did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.