Andrea Sheldon Lafferty is a former Reagan and Bush administration official and current Executive Director of the Anaheim, CA-based organization Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), an organization founded by her father, Reverend Louis Sheldon, in 1980. Rev. Sheldon made a career out of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, and Lafferty has continued that legacy.
While TVC’s website was taken down in 2017, the organization was described as “America’s largest non-denominational, grassroots, church lobby, speaking on behalf of 43,000 allied churches and millions of like-minded patriots.” TVC is responsible for spreading anti-LGBTQ misinformation and propaganda such as equating homosexuality with higher rates of pedophilia.
TVC is also actively involved in spreading fear about Islam. Lafferty frequently spoke against the building of the Park 51 Muslim community center. In her blog she described it as a mosque for the “extreme” religion of Islam on Ground Zero (it is located two blocks from Ground Zero and is not a mosque). In a 2011 Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, Lafferty said, “Islam is not just a religion. Islam is a geo-political military system wrapped in a cloak of religious belief that penalizes conversion with death.” (More recently in 2014, Lafferty spoke out against Obama’s contraception coverage mandate, calling it an “agenda of population control” and claiming it was part of an attack by “Islamic Shariah law both at home and abroad.”)
In 2012, Lafferty spoke with Fox News to bemoan government- and therefore taxpayer-, funded research programs on HIV/AIDS and sexual health—a common complaint by anti-LGBTQ groups that are appealing to a small government audience. Jeffrey Parsons, a distinguished professor of the Psychology Department at Hunter College, said the “Traditional Values Coalition [has] a vested interest in creating scandal around scientific research related to gay men, and sexuality research, in general, comes under particular scrutiny and is often cited as a waste of taxpayer money.”
Lafferty received media attention in 2013 for her effort against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill meant to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ employees. In the wake of the devastation at Sandy Hook Elementary, she spoke on The Janet Mefford Show, asserting that the presence of LGBTQ teachers in schools is just as threatening as school shooters like Adam Lanza. She believes transgender teachers endanger young children, and often describes the desire to change a person’s gender as a psychological illness.
Lafferty has also equated homosexuality to drunk driving. Following U.S. Senator Rob Portman’s (R – Ohio) public statement in support of his gay son in 2013, Lafferty issued a mock press release that mirrored Portman’s statement but replaced references to homosexuality with references to drunk driving. “Earlier this week one of my children came to me and told me something which was shocking,” she wrote. “He is a drunk driver and has been driving drunk regularly since college. I have taken several days to reflect on this and I have decided to reverse my earlier opposition to drunk driving.”
TVC has been associated with dubious fundraising tactics and according to their 990 forms between 2004 and 2014, both TVC and their advocacy arm, the TVC Education and Legal Institute, Inc., operated with a negative net worth. Both organizations stopped filing 990 forms after 2014, because, according to the Corporations and Charities Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, TVC was involuntarily closed. The organization doesn’t appear to have a working phone line or physical location. Although her organization appears to be nearly completely inactive, Lafferty continues to push TVC’s agenda. (Two projects of TVC, the Christian Seniors Association and the Citizen’s to Protect Senior’s Security/Coalition to Guarantee Social Security, still appear to be active.)
When Target released their corporate statement in 2016 supporting LGBTQ individuals using whichever bathroom or fitting room they feel comfortable in, Lafferty vehemently spoke out against the corporation. In an interview with Breitbart, she said called for a national boycott of Target and called stores “pedophile magnets and pervert magnets.” “This is not just about a guy going into a women’s bathroom at Target, or wherever. It’s also about schools,” she said.
The same year, Lafferty helped a student bring a lawsuit against a Virginia school that was expanding its non-discrimination policy to include protections for transgender students. The student claimed to be “terrified at the thought of having to share intimate spaces with students who have the physical features of a girl, seeing such conduct as an invasion of privacy.” The judge dismissed the lawsuit, and when Lafferty appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court, it was again dismissed on the grounds that Lafferty and the student lacked grounds to bring the lawsuit against the school at all.
Lafferty was a vocal advocate for Donald Trump during his campaign and continues to spread her anti-LGBTQ views. In 2016, she wrote an op-ed in support of Trump for Fox News, but she also wrote that she believed Trump did not understand the “full impact” of “people pushing ‘gender identity’ into American culture.”
This profile is part of a series on key anti-LGBTQ opponents adapted from Political Research Associates Resisting the Rainbow report. Additional research done by Julia Taliesen.