June 14, 2016; Media Matters
“Well, actually, if you look at my website now, we have hands clasped together, all different colored rainbow hands, people.”—Pam Bondi
So often, public figures make patently insincere public statements after terrible tragedies like the shooting of 102 people at Pulse, a club in Orlando. The shooting targeted the LGBT crowd, leaving 49 dead and even more injured. But Anderson Cooper was obviously not willing to let Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, off the hook when he interviewed her the other day. Bondi has actively opposed same-sex marriage, arguably helping to prop up a hostile environment for LGBT residents of the Sunshine State—but a few days ago, she introduced clasped, rainbow-colored hands to her website.
ANDERSON COOPER: I want to ask you, I saw you the other day saying that anyone who attacks the LGBT community, our LGBT community, you said, will be gone after with the full extent of the law.
PAM BONDI: That’s exactly right.
COOPER: I talked to a lot of gay and lesbian people here yesterday who are not fans of yours and who 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. To induce public harm, I believe was the term you used in court. Do you really think you’re a champion of the gay community?
BONDI: Let me tell you. When I was sworn in as attorney general, I put my hand on the Bible and was sworn to uphold the constitution of the state of Florida. That’s not a law that was voted in to our state constitution by the voters of Florida. That’s what I was defending. I’ve never said I don’t like gay people, that’s ridiculous.
COOPER: But do you worry about using language accusing gay people of trying to do harm to the people of Florida when doesn’t that send a message to some people who might have bad ideas in mind?
BONDI: Anderson, I don’t believe gay people could do harm to the state of Florida. We’re human beings.
COOPER: But you argued that in court.
BONDI: My lawyer argued a case defending what the Supreme Court allowed the voters to put in our state constitution.
COOPER: Right, but you were arguing that gay marriage, if there was gay marriage, if there was same-sex marriage, that would do harm to the people of Florida, to Florida society. […] Are you saying you did not believe it would do harm to Florida?
BONDI: Of course not, of course not. I’ve never said that. Those words have never came out of my mouth.
COOPER: But that is specifically what you were arguing in court.
As a side note, readers may recall from NPQ’s coverage this spring that Donald Trump had donated to Pam Bondi’s political campaign out of his charitable foundation, later calling it an administrative error.—Ruth McCambridge