On Wednesday's New Day, CNN's Alisyn Camerota acted more like a LGBT activist than a journalist as she interviewed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Camerota boosted a statement from socially left-wing group Lambda that attacked a proposed marriage bill in the Lone Star State as "blatantly discriminatory." The anchor then asked, "Isn't it discriminatory? Aren't you saying that the gays and lesbians in your state are not as valued as heterosexuals because they can't form into a union?" [video below]
Camerota later wondered, "Do you understand why gays in Texas would feel that that is discriminating against them?" She also touted a year-old poll that found that Texas residents were split on the issue of same-sex "marriage," and asked Paxton, "So why pass a law that would apply to everyone?"
The CNN journalist led the interview by noting the "timing" of the Texas legislature considering legislation that would "block same-sex marriage in Texas," and asked, "Why would Texas do this today, as opposed to waiting a few weeks for the Supreme Court to decide about the law of the land?" The attorney general pointed out the Texas state constitutional amendment that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman, and how the state legislature works in the state:
KEN PAXTON, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, first, let me give you a little background. We passed the constitutional amendment in 2005. It was overwhelmingly approved by the voters. I believe the number was 76 percent defining marriage between a man and woman. And so, that's our background here. The legislature was also obviously involved in passing that with over two-thirds in both houses.
The reason they're having to work on legislation now – our session only lasts 140 days every two years – and so, whatever needs to be done has to finish in the next two and half to three weeks. And so, if that legislation – whatever it is – is not passed in the next two and a half to three weeks, it doesn't matter what happens with the Supreme Court. There's no real opportunity to pass legislation on any issue.
Camerota followed up with her poll question. Paxon answered by sticking to his talking point about the constitutional amendment:
ALISYN CAMEROTA: Mr. Paxton, it's interesting that you talk about how Texans define marriage...Now, this is a year old, I'll grant you, but it's the only Texas-wide poll that we could find. And what we found is that your state is divided right down the middle, in terms of support for same-sex marriage – 48 percent support it; 47 percent oppose it...if Texas follows national trend lines, we've seen support tick up for same-sex marriage...your state is an interesting case study there – that it's so divided. So why pass a law that would apply to everyone?
PAXTON: You know, I think it goes back again to – whatever the polling is, the real poll is always what happens on Election Day, and he voters had an opportunity...several years ago to make their decision about what they wanted on this issue. And it wasn't a close decision...it was over three-fourths of the voters decided that they wanted to put this in the constitution. So, you know, my job as attorney general – and the job of the legislature – is to, really, follow the will of the people – enforce the laws that we have. This is both in statute and in our constitution. And so, that's my job, and that's the job of the legislature.
The CNN anchor's use of the Lambda statement and her slanted questioning came later in the segment. During the segment, New Day also ran a biased on-screen graphic that asserted that "Texas Lawmakers Push Anti-Marriage Equality Bill:"
CAMEROTA: Let me read to you what the lawyer for Lambda – which, of course, pushes for marriage equality, as they say – has said about this bill in Texas. They say, 'The continued push for such blatantly discriminatory legislation illustrates that the Texas legislature is determined to demean LGBT people while confusing state employees who must follow the law set by the highest court in the country. The Texas legislature does not and should not get to pick and choose which parts of the U.S. Constitution it will follow.'
There's a lot of messages in there, but let's talk about the one that says that it's 'blatantly discriminatory.' Isn't it discriminatory? Aren't you saying that the gays and lesbians in your state are not as valued as heterosexuals because they can't form into a union?
PAXTON: No. I think what – I think what the legislature's trying to do – obviously, I am not in the legislature, and there's – there's a lot of different opinions in the legislature. But what they've tried to do in the past – that's all I can go on – is they've tried to define marriage the way it's been defined since the beginning of this country, and since the beginning of the formation of Texas. And so, all the legislature has done in the past is try to reflect the values that have been in this state and this country for – you know, over two centuries.
CAMEROTA: And what about homosexuals who fall in love? What should they do?
PAXTON: Well, I mean, they have – you know, they can do whatever they want. But the reality is marriage itself, right now in Texas, was defined by the people of Texas – as I said overwhelmingly – as between a man and woman. And that's – that's the law of Texas. It's in our constitution. It's in our statues. And right now, that's the law of Texas.
CAMEROTA: I mean, they can't really do whatever they want, as you've just said. I mean, even in the language of this, it says that the state may not issue, enforce, or recognize a marriage license or a declaration of an informal marriage, for a union, other than a union between a man and one woman. I mean, do you understand why gays in Texas would feel that that is discriminating against them?
PAXTON: Well, they can feel how they want. The reality is, the voters of Texas have passed the law as it is. And, you know, I – I don't know how the statute's going to turn out. It can turn out exactly as you've read it. It could turn out very different. It may not pass. It's still not certain to me – with only two days left on the House calendar – which bills are going to pass, and which are not going to pass. So, it's easy to speculate, but it's – it's very difficult to know exactly how this is going to turn out in Texas, and with the United States Supreme Court later this month or next month.