By Ran Aubrey Frazier
Originally published on Advocate.com February 25 2014 3:56 PM ET
Anderson Cooper was fully armed last night on AC360, eviscerating Arizona state senator and gubernatorial candidate Al Melvin over Arizona's SB 1062, a bill that would make it legal for businesses and individuals to refuse to provide goods or services to certain consumers, including LGBT people, in the name of religion.
Melvin proved no match for Cooper, who repeatedly challenged him to explain the need for the law, since "Arizona doesn't have a state law protecting gay people, there's no federal law either ... so it's already legal to refuse service to someone who's gay."
In states that have bans on sexual orientation–based discrimination, such as New Mexico, there have seen lawsuits over refusals to serve LGBT people. Proponents of laws like Arizona's claim that having to provide services for certain populations, such as same-sex couples who are getting married, infringes on business owners' religious beliefs.
Melvin conceded that "the law might be preemptive" in his state but argued that it was "nothing more and nothing less than protecting religious freedom in our state, and we take that very seriously."
When Cooper asserted that Arizona law permits workers to be fired for being gay, Melvin responded, "We don't want that to happen here," before adding, "I don't know of anyone who would advocate that or stand for it."
As the interview progressed, Cooper asked Melvin if he was able to cite a specific example in which someone in Arizona had been discriminated against because of their religion. Blindsided, the state senator responded, "Not now, no. How 'bout tomorrow?"
Returning to his talking points, Melvin later defended the need for the so-called religious freedom bill, asserting, "All of the pillars of society are under attack in the United States. The family, the traditional family, traditional marriage ... the Boy Scouts, you name it. All of the pillars of society as we know it today are under attack, including religious freedom."
Toward the conclusion of the interview, Melvin preposterously claimed that sexual orientation–based discrimination did not exist in his state. When Cooper asserted that such discrimination existed even in New York, Melvin suggested that the news anchor "ought to move to Arizona. We're more people-friendly here."
Watch the segment below.