The news: Arizona senators keep insisting that the notorious "right to discriminate" bill they just passed “is not about allowing discrimination” against the LGBT community. But after last night’s Anderson Cooper 360, it’s unclear whether they know what discrimination actually is:
Seriously? That’s State Senator Al Melvin – who hopes to be elected governor this year – evading Cooper’s simple question about whether firing someone because of their sexual orientation constitutes discrimination. The correct answer is “yes,” but Melvin chooses to complicate matters: “I don’t know of anybody that discriminates in our state, sir.”
Let’s try this again: “If somebody is fired, if a boss doesn’t like somebody on their staff or woman on their staff because they’re gay or lesbian, and they’re fired for that … is that discrimination?”
“You know,” says Melvin after a long silence, “you’re trying to distort a religious freedom bill …”
“Sir, you’re running for governor of the state of Arizona, you’re going to be governor of gay and lesbian people,” Cooper replies, “and you can’t even go on the record and say if a gay [or] lesbian person is fired simply for being gay or lesbian, that’s discrimination?” But the Senator sticks to his guns, even when Cooper gives him “one more opportunity” to answer: “I’m against all discrimination and I want maximum religious freedom, sir,” says Melvin.
“I think this is going to come back on you,” Cooper says at one point. Talk about an understatement.
Crazing Arizona. The bill in question, SB 1062, would allow businesses to refuse service to any customer based on the owners’ religious beliefs. It would also protect said owner from any lawsuit that comes about as a result. “The heart of this bill would allow for discrimination versus gays and lesbians," said Democratic State Senator Steve Gallardo, referring to many Christians’ belief that homosexuality is sin. "That's the point of this bill. It is."
What’s next for Al? Whether the CNN interview hurts Senator Melvin in the polls remains to be seen, but it certainly provides an enlightening window into the delusional “logic” used to defend the Arizona bill. Governor Jan Brewer maintains that she’ll decide whether to sign SB 1062 into law later this week. One can only hope she’ll make the right decision.