Last night on AC360, Cooper interviewed Al Melvin, a Republican state senator and current gubernatorial candidate from Arizona, about SB 1062, the state's proposed "turn away the gays" bill that would legalize religion-based anti-LGBT discrimination.
The interview is positively epic. Melvin, who proudly stated that he's the only candidate in the governor's race actively supporting the measure, could literally not defend it beyond his own heavily-rehearsed talking points. When Cooper pointed out that the measure is unnecessary since it's already legal to discriminate against LGBT people in Arizona since they're not protected in state anti-discrimination law, Melvin either didn't know or refused to concede that point.
Melvin insisted that the law is preemptive, to protect people of faith in Arizona from being forced to do something against their religious beliefs. But when Cooper asked him to provide just one example of this actually happening, Sen. Melvin couldn't provide it. "Not now. No. But how 'bout tomorrow?", he offered.
But the measure is still necessary, Melvin said, because Freedom.
When Cooper pointed out that the proposed law is so broad that it could technically be used to justify faith-based discrimination against divorced people and unwed mothers, it did not compute with Senator Melvin. "I think you're being far-fetched with all due respect, sir," he responded. "As a Christian, as most God-fearing men and women would respect unwed mothers, divorced women, who would discriminate them? I've never heard of discriminating against people like that."
But this bill is still necessary, Melvin said, because All the Pillars of Society Are Under Attack.
Cooper later noted that since Arizona is not a marriage equality state, there's no way businesses can be forced to take part in gay or lesbian couples' weddings. "No florist is going to be forced to participate in a gay wedding, because a.) you don't have gay weddings in Arizona, and you're not going to any time soon, and b.) under Arizona law, it's OK to discriminate against a gay person, to refuse them service already."
Melvin responded by flat-out denying that discrimination even exists in the state of Arizona. "With all due respect sir, I don't know anyone in Arizona that would discriminate against a fellow human being." Cooper, of course, was flabbergasted.
You must watch this two-part interview. You'll feel your brain cells slowly rotting every time Sen. Melvin opens his mouth, but it's so worth it. I'd say the good senator ought to feel embarrassed, but I think that'd be asking too much.
Part 2, where Cooper and NYU Law Professor Kenji Yoshino further shred Senator Melvin's ridiculous arguments, is after the jump.