By Michael O'Loughlin
Originally published on Advocate.com February 27 2014 9:15 PM ET
In an exchange with CNN's Chris Cuomo touching on Arizona's now-vetoed “license to discriminate” bill, the Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, appeared to come out in favor of workplace nondiscrimination laws that would protect LGBT people.
“Gays as individuals, I’m with you on that Chris, let’s protect them in the workplace, let’s protect them as individuals,” he said today on CNN's morning program New Day.
Donohue, however, accused the Obama administration of trying to restrict the rights of religious Americans, and he downplayed instances of discrimination against LGBT people.
“Where are the examples of gays being discriminated against?” Donohue asked. “If they’re being discriminated against, how come they make more money than straight people on average? Is somebody being denied at Applebee’s getting a hamburger? Where are these examples?”
Cuomo noted that aside from a few cities, in most places in Arizona, LGBT people lack any legal protection against discrimination in the workplace or housing.
“Under the law in Arizona, there is no special protection of the LGBT community, so a business member, if he or she wanted to or she wanted to, could discriminate without violation,” Cuomo said. “That’s why the law was unnecessary."
A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute released yesterday showed that 75% of Americans incorrectly believe LGBT people are protected by federal antidiscrimination laws. No such laws exist.
Donohue said he and other people of faith felt "besieged" by advances in LGBT rights, but he conceded gay rights must be protected too.
"We have religious rights and we have a collision course here with gay rights. We need to protect both. It's not an easy, delicate balance. I'm can grant you that. But my rights and freedom of religion are in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Since when should they take a backseat?" he said.
The Catholic League has no official connection to the Roman Catholic Church.
A coalition of business, political, and advocacy leaders waged a campaign to encourage Arizona's Gov. Jan Brewer to veto SB 1062, which she did yesterday afternoon. The bill would have given legal cover for businesses and individuals to discriminate against LGBT people, if they did so out of sincere religious beliefs.
Watch Cuomo's interview with Donohue in the two clips below.