CNN host Anderson Cooper battled with Arizona state Sen. Al Melvin (R) on Monday night over the fate of a state bill that would allow businesses to refuse service to lesbian and gay customers.
Melvin is a candidate for governor who voted for the SB 1062 legislation and is urging Gov. Jan Brewer (R) to sign it. Melvin and other proponents of the bill argue it is a protection of religious freedom for individuals whose beliefs condemn homosexuality. However, Melvin had trouble defending the bill to Cooper and struggled when the CNN host asked him to describe an example where religious people had suffered persecution as a result of being prevented from discriminating against gays and lesbians.
“You can’t give me one example of this actually happening?” Cooper said.
“No, I can’t,” Melvin said. “But we’ve seen it in other states, and we don’t want it to happen here.”
“But you can’t cite one example where religious freedom is under attack in Arizona,” said Cooper.
“Not now, no, but how about tomorrow?” Melvin responded.
Cooper took exception to this line of argument.
“Well — I don’t understand what that means,” he said. “I mean, if you can’t cite in the entire history of Arizona, one case where religious freedom has been under attack — or even in the last year where it’s been under attack — is this really the most important thing for you to be working on?”
Later in the interview, Melvin insisted that he didn’t know anybody in Arizona who would discriminate against a “fellow human being.”
“Really? Discrimination doesn’t exist in Arizona?” Cooper asked incredulously.
“Maybe you ought to move to Arizona,” Melvin said. “We’re more people-friendly here, apparently.”
Here’s the full clip of the interview, via CNN:
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