Anderson Cooper and Republican Pam Bondi had a lot to discuss on Tuesday regarding her history of supporting the LGBTQ community in Florida.
The CNN journalist questioned Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi over her claim of being a champion of the LGBTQ community in Florida, according to the Washington Post. Anderson Cooper quoted Bondi, who said in the wake of the tragedy at Pulse that “anybody who attacks Florida’s LGBTQ community will be gone after ‘to the fullest extent of the law.'” Anderson Cooper was skeptical of this statement, considering the Florida attorney general’s advocacy against same-sex marriage.
"You are hearing – on a very horrible tragic day – the word love."
FL Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi on Orlando shooting. pic.twitter.com/Hoykjipo1Q
— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 12, 2016
Anderson Cooper told Pam Bondi that most of the LGBTQ community he’s interviewed in Florida doesn’t view the state’s attorney general in such a favorable light. Cooper backed his statement using Bondi’s 2014 court papers, which expressed that Florida’s acknowledgement of same-sex marriages conducted in other states would “impose significant public harm.”
Anderson Cooper asked Pam Bondi if she was “a champion of the gay community.” The interview proceeded to get heated, leading Bondi to quickly go on the defense.
“I’ve never said I don’t like gay people…That’s ridiculous.”
Pam Bondi told Anderson Cooper with great emphasis that her job as attorney general of her state was to uphold the Constitution of Florida. Bondi added that the state’s constitution had passed a ban on same-sex marriage in 2008.
Anderson Cooper chose to primarily focus on Bondi’s use of the word “harm,” which was included in her 2014 court papers. The journalist proceeded to ask Pam Bondi if the word “harm” could “send a message to some people who might have bad ideas in mind.” Pam Bondi became slightly agitated, but still responded to his question.
“Anderson, I don’t believe gay people could do harm to the state of Florida.”
Anderson Cooper asked Pam Bondi the same question in several different variations. The Florida attorney general at one point during the interview said that she “would also defend a law legalizing marijuana if it were the law of Florida.”
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Anderson Cooper went for the jugular, asking Bondi if there was a “sick irony” in her sudden change of opinion about hospital visitation rights for the LBGTQ community. Originally, the Florida attorney general had advocated against gay and lesbian couples being notified that their loved ones were hospitalized and advocated against gay and lesbian couples’ hospital visitation rights.
Pam Bondi and Anderson Cooper’s interview at that point had turned into spat. The two began to argue about Florida’s “fighting against a federal judge who struck down the state’s same-sex marriage law.” Eventually, Bondi tried to steer Cooper away from this argument, but he wouldn’t let go. During the fight, Anderson Cooper reminded the Florida attorney general that he was gay. The journalist publicly come out in 2012.
Pam Bondi told Anderson Cooper that today was about “human beings” and the “victims” of the Orlando terrorist attack. Cooper retorted, “It’s about gay and lesbian victims,” to which Bondi replied, “It sure is…LGBT victims.”
In a final attempt to get Pam Bondi to admit that she wasn’t an advocate for LGBTQ rights, he asked her if she was a “hypocrite” for portraying herself as an ally after the attack on the gay nightclub.
“It’s just that — I will say I have never seen you talk about gays and lesbians and transgender people in a positive way until now.”
Pam Bondi replied to Anderson Cooper saying that her website now featured an “image of rainbow-colored hands clasped together.” The journalist asked her if she had just put that on her website, to which she replied “Yeah, I did…After this horrible tragedy, absolutely.”
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]