The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has criticized U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions' decision to address the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian conservative group opposed to LGBT rights.

Sessions spoke to the group at its Summit on Religious Liberty in Orange County, California, where he promised that the Department of Justice is preparing rules to protect “religious liberty.”

(Related: At ADF summit, Jeff Sessions promised DOJ guidance on “religious freedom.”)

While the event was closed to the press and the Justice Department refused to release a transcript, the conservative website the Federalist published a copy of the speech Session gave at the event.

SPLC, which in 2016 designated ADF a “hate group” for its opposition to LGBT rights, said in a statement that Sessions had lent “the credibility of his office to a group committed to legalizing discrimination against the LGBT community.”

“The ADF is, in fact, not about defending freedom, as its name says. Rather, it’s a hate group that cloaks itself in religion as it spreads demonizing lies about the LGBT community in this country and seeks to criminalize it abroad. If the ADF had its way, gay people would be back in the closet for fear of going to jail,” the SPLC added.

The ADF is currently representing a Colorado baker and a Washington state florist who refused to serve gay couples. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case from Colorado and the ADF has appealed a ruling in the Washington state case to the nation's highest court.

(Related: Barronelle Stutzman, florist who refused gay couple, appeals case to Supreme Court.)