CNN host Anderson Cooper pressed Arizona state Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Al Melvin (R) on Monday over his support of his state’s law legalizing discrimination against the LGBT communities, especially after Melvin admitted he could not think of an instance where the “religious freedom” it supposedly protects was under attack.
“There has become a media frenzy on this that has cost other candidates for governor,” Melvin attempted to explain before a surprised Cooper interrupted.
“You’re seriously blaming the media on this?” Cooper asked. “Oh, come on.”
Melvin also objected to Cooper’s argument that, if SB 1062 is signed into law by current Gov. Jan Brewer (R), a business owner like a loan officer would be able to use religious beliefs as a reason to refuse services to unwed mothers or divorced women.
“I have never heard of that in my entire life,” Melvin protested. “It’s like you’re starting a cottage industry of perceived and made-up discrimination that don’t exist here.”
“Are you telling me that there’s nobody who opposes divorce?” Cooper asked.
“Everybody that I know wants strong marriages,” Melvin responded. “Strong, traditional marriages. They want them. And divorce is a sad thing. It usually hurts children. And we don’t want that. That’s why we want to strengthen traditional marriage.”
The senator also complained that institutions like marriage and the Boy Scouts were “under attack” — a common argument among anti-LGBT conservatives — but would not tell Cooper who he thought was responsible for that “attack.” Melvin also refused on multiple occasions to consider the possibility of workplace discrimination based on sexuality.
“You’re gonna be governor of gay and lesbian people, 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?” Cooper asked pointedly. “You can’t even make that leap and say, ‘Yeah, that would be discrimination.’”
“I don’t know of any case like you just cited, sir,” Melvin said.
Watch the interview, as posted online on Monday, below.