This conversation between Anderson Cooper and Arizona legislator Al Melvin is worth a watch. It’s 10 minutes long, so grab a cup of tea and a biscuit and settle in. Again – totally worth it.
The point is made over and over by Melvin that the issue is about a religious liberty bill and it’s not about discrimination at all. Discrimination is wrong. It’s bad. In fact, according to Melvin, no one in Arizona does it. That’s a relief. I was afraid I’d moved to Bigot Town. Never mind that federal and state law doesn’t include sexual orientation in its listing of protected classes and so it’s ALREADY legal in most places in AZ (except Phoenix and some other towns who have passed ordinances preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation) to deny services, hire or fire based on sexual orientation. But, since this law isn’t about discrimination, I guess it doesn’t apply.
I’m sure this was on Anderson’s list of questions but he just didn’t get to it. I’d love to ask Mr. Melvin if he thinks it’s ok for a Jewish or Muslim business owner to refuse service to someone based on their religious liberty. Back it up, Jack. There’s where we’d have a problem. Mr. Melvin claims this bill is about religious liberty but really it’s about him and people who share HIS religious beliefs to be able to legally discriminate against people who do not share their beliefs, specifically discriminate against one sector of the population who they assume disagrees with them. This isn’t about religious liberty but about being able to legally protect conservative Christians so they can try to gain back some of the power they think they’ve lost.
Another point that Cooper got Melvin to own is that there has not yet been an issue of religious liberty being infringed upon. This is preemptive legislation. You know, just to get a jump on all the gays that want to have lunch.
Finally, Mr. Melvin is running for governor of AZ. I’m thrilled that he made himself look so stupid on national television. I know that his refusal to say that firing someone just because they’re gay is discrimination will come back to bite him at the ballot box.