When Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi ingratiated herself to Anderson Cooper during a live CNN interview in Orlando, she surely expected the niceties to keep flowing hither and yon. After Bondi praised the reporter for calling out the names of the 49 victims massacred at Pulse nightclub, Cooper abruptly switched gears, pointing out her “hypocrisy” in regard to Florida’s gay community.
“I saw you the other day,” he claimed, “saying that anyone who attacks the LGBT community — our LGBT community, you said — will be gone after to the full extend of the law.”
“I talked to a lot of gay and lesbian people here yesterday who are not fans of yours and said that they thought you were being a hypocrite, that you for years have fought—you’ve basically gone after gay people, said that in court that gay people simply by fighting for marriage equality were trying to do harm to the people of Florida.”
“Do you really think you’re a champion of the gay community?”
Bondi did her best to sidestep the question, gingerly arguing that her opposition to marriage equality simply boiled down to the oath she took to uphold the law.
“I’ve never said I don’t like gay people,” she assured him.
A bit of backstory: As The Daily Beast reports, Bondi filed a brief in May 2014 that claimed “disrupting Florida’s existing marriage laws would impose significant public harm.”
Cooper inquired whether she was at all concerned that such language might “send a message” to people like Omar Mateen; potentially dangerous people who harbor dangerous animosity towards the gay community and already have “bad ideas in mind.”
Bondi tried to smooth over the line of questioning, insisting she never thought gay marriage would cause “harm.”
“Those words never came out of my mouth,” she claimed.
“That’s what you argued in court,” Cooper replied. “The hotline that you’ve been talking about on television, which allows family members and spouses of the dead to get information, which is incredibly important, and I appreciate you talking about on the air… had there been no gay marriage, no same-sex marriage, you do realize that spouses—there would be no spouses, that boyfriends and girlfriends of the dead would not be able to get information and would not be able to visit in the hospital here. Isn’t there a sick irony in that?”
Bondi says she’s gone one step further and assisted unmarried partners in their attempt to get information revoling around the crime.
Cooper emphasizes she’d quite recently argued the “very idea” that same-sex couples should have that right:
“Is it hypocritical to portray yourself as a champion of the gay community when—I’m just reflecting what gay people told me—they don’t see you as this?It’s just that, I will say I have never really seen you talk about gays and lesbians and transgender people in a positive way until now.”
Bondi’s battle against gay marriage cost Florida taxpayers around $500,000.
Watch the highly charged exchange below: