Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) ran for office in 2010 vowing to fight against allowing gay adoptions and same-sex marriage. As attorney general, she vigorously defended the state’s constitutional marriage ban. On Sunday, after the horrific Orlando shootings, she pledged that, “Anyone who attacks our LGBT community, anyone who attacks anyone in our state, will be gone after to the fullest extent of the law.”
On Tuesday, CNN’s Anderson Cooper called Bondi out for her hypocrisy, grilling her about the contradiction between her recent statements and her anti-LGBT rhetoric in defending the state’s marriage ban, when she had claimed in an official court brief that recognizing other state’s same-sex marriages would “impose significant public harm” on Florida.
Cooper asked, in light of that work, “Do you really think you’re a champion of the gay community?”
Bondi responded that her defense of the state constitution “had nothing to do” with not liking gay people.
“My lawyer argued a case defending what the Supreme Court allowed the voters to put in our state constitution,” she explained, adding that “those words have never come out of my mouth.”
Cooper observed that, had Florida’s marriage inequality amendment not been struck down, “there would be no spouses [and] boyfriends and girlfriends of the dead would not be able to get information and would not be able, probably even to visit in this hospital.” “Isn’t there a sick irony that you, for years, were fighting that very idea?” he asked her.
Bondi continued to insist that she simply was “defending the constitution” and “what over 69 percent of the voters put in the constitution.”
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Cooper noted that she had never spoken out for LGBT Floridians prior to the attack. Bondi responded by noting that she recently put an image of rainbow hands clasped on her website.A spokesman for Bondi did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry asking what website she meant, but none was visible on her campaign or official website homepages at press time.
Even after five state and federal courts struck down Florida’s same-sex ban, Bondi vowed to continue to fight, saying, “if anybody wants me to moderate my message or stand for less I have a message for them: I am just getting started.”
But Florida’s oath of office requires its attorney general and other officials to “ support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida.” The federal constitution is the supreme law of the land. Unlike Bondi, other state attorneys general and the U.S. attorney general refused to defend the unconstitutional bans on same-sex marriage.
Aria Velasquez contributed to this article.
Bondi took to a friend’s talk radio show on Wednesday to criticize Cooper for an ambush interview and for not showing the earlier part of her interview about fundraising scams.
“The interview was supposed to be about helping people’s families, not creating more anger and havoc and hatred yesterday. Yesterday was about unity, about bringing people together, about helping people,” she said. Calling Anderson Cooper “the champion for the LGBT community,” Bondi lamented that she has received many angry emails and all the interview did “was encourage anger and hate — and families who we’re trying to help to probably not trust my office and the 14 advocates we’ve brought in.”