CNN Hosts Chely Wright to Slam 'Very Bigoted' Religious Freedom Bills

On Wednesday's New Day on CNN, co-host Michaela Pereira sympathetically gave country singer and gay rights activist Chely Wright a forum to complain about religious freedom initiatives in several Southern states, with Wright deriding the bills as "very bigoted" and "ridiculous."

Pereira introduced the segment by recalling the latest on the North Carolina bathroom law issue:

North Carolina's governor amending a controversial bathroom law after outrage. His executive order now allows LGBT state workers to sue for employment discrimination, but the most controversial provisions requiring transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to birth gender, well, that remains intact. Musicians united against these measures -- some even canceling performances in the South in response to a wave of so-called religious freedom measures.

Not mentioned by the CNN host is that North Carolina state law allows transgendered people to change their birth certificates to update their gender, as explained on CNN last week by a proponent of the bathroom law.

Pereira, who on Monday this week fretted over whether opponents of religious freedom bills would be able to get enough support for their cause, similarly posed to her Wednesday guest:

Do you feel that there's enough support? We've noticed that there are voices -- for example, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Miley Cyrus. Some have even chosen to cancel shows. But it's not quite as a resounding call from your country music pals, if you will.

After complaining about those involved in country music who have a religious "hate the sin, love the sinner" view of homosexuals, Wright went on to hope that more of her peers will speak out against the bills she viewed as "very bigoted." Wright:

There are a few that I know who are on the precipice of saying something. I think they feel uncertain. They don't know exactly what to say. They don't know what the reaction will be. But the change, what we need in 2016 is for them to absolutely 100 percent affirm the LGBT community and condemn these anti, these very bigoted laws.

After calling the bills "ridiculous," she went on to fret that the mere talk of enacting these bills has already done damage in encouraging the harassment of LGBT students:

And I'm going to go one further and say even if the bill doesn't pass, this damage is being done already because these kids who are harassed and bullied -- believe you me -- their classmates who have been bullying them are hearing this language being bandied about, and it might embolden them to perhaps double down on the harassment.

Wright seemed to make an allusion to those who lived in Nazi Germany as she concluded by expressing hopes that her friends would follow her example:

I'm hopeful, and I understand that, you know, there's, it's difficult to speak out and say something that you know a portion of your fan base is not going to like. And, you know, at some point, these country music artists that are friends of mine, their kids and their grandkids are going to say, "Papa, did you say something?"

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Wednesday, April 13, New Day on CNN:

8:45 a.m. ET
MICHAELA PEREIRA: North Carolina's governor amending a controversial bathroom law after outrage. His executive order now allows LGBT state workers to sue for employment discrimination, but the most controversial provisions requiring transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to birth gender, well, that remains intact. Musicians united against these measures -- some even canceling performances in the South in response to a wave of so-called religious freedom measures. Joining us now, the first openly gay country recording artist and LGBT activist Chely Wright. What a delight to meet you. Thanks so much for being here.

CHELY WRIGHT: I'm so glad to be here with you.

PEREIRA: A girl from Tennessee.

WRIGHT: Yeah, well, I grew up in Kansas, and I moved to Tennessee when I was 18, lived there for 20 years, and now I reside in New York City. But Nashville will always be home.

PEREIRA: And that's why you take this issue very, very personally -- and not just personally, you also realize the impact it has, and I want to read the statement that you released in reaction to the bills that are -- the anti-LGBT bills that are going forward in Tennessee:

"As an artist living and working in Nashville for more than 20 years, I know how hard it was to struggle for acceptance as a gay woman. The deck is stacked even higher against transgender students who face dramatically increased rates of bullying. This bill will send a devastating message to transgender youth that they are not welcome, included or valued."

Really important for you to say this. Why did you -- why did you feel it was so important? [CHELY WRIGHT]

PEREIRA: Well, and you're not alone. There are other voices, but with this issue these anti-discrimination bills that are circulating, do you -- or the anti-LGBT bills that are circulating -- do you feel that there's enough support? We've noticed that there are voices -- for example, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Miley Cyrus. Some have even chosen to cancel shows. But it's not quite as a resounding call from your country music pals, if you will.

WRIGHT: Yeah, we are still behind.

PEREIRA: Why do you think that is?

WRIGHT: Well, do you want to talk about it?

PEREIRA: Let's do it.

WRIGHT: Okay. It's scary, as a country music artist -- it's scary because you know that your -- by and large, our fan base is -- the bedrock of their lives is faith, family and country. What we have to continue -- what I have to continue to talk about and encourage my contemporaries in country music to discuss is those are the bedrocks of my life still. I'm a married woman.

I have identical twin boys who will be three, God help me, next month. And faith is and always will be a big part of my life. So I think that -- I know that there are some like-minded artists in country music. I know because I've talked to them privately, and I think their reticence in coming forward and not just saying "I love all of my gay friends, I don't judge, I love the sinner, hate the sin." That's so 2010.

PEREIRA: What's 2016 to you?

WRIGHT: 2016 is three big acts in country music. I haven't had a hit on the charts in over a decade. We're talking relevant artists, hit makers, the ones who have the biggest voices in country music, There are a few that I know who are on the precipice of saying something. I think they feel uncertain. They don't know exactly what to say. They don't know what the reaction will be. But the change, what we need in 2016 is for them to absolutely 100 percent affirm the LGBT community and condemn these anti, these very bigoted laws.

PEREIRA: What do you think it will take to nudge them over the edge? What do you think it is that's holding them back?

WRIGHT; My incessant emailing and texting them.

PEREIRA: That's going to be what it takes to get them to say something?

WRIGHT: I think there's safety in numbers, Michaela. I think if one comes forward, perhaps another one might feel a little safer to do so. And it's also about education, A lot of my peers in country music may not think they know a trans person. I know they know a gay person. I know many of them have gays and lesbians who work for them and they love them, but we need them now to take that very courageous step to affirm and to say, you know, these bills are absolutely ridiculous.

PEREIRA: Well, and it's not just about the bills, but it's about the reality of living as a gay country music star in the South, right? Because that's its own set of challenges, and that's not necessarily been an easy road for you. [WRIGHT]

PEREIRA: Right, you make a very good point because, as an artist, you live in somewhat of a bubble. But the reality -- and this is the point you've made about this is that you're concerned what this means for the youth -- these laws and how it's going to affect the lives of the transgender LGBT youth that are coming out.

WRIGHT: An already very vulnerable community of people. And I'm going to go one further and say even if the bill doesn't pass, this damage is being done already because these kids who are harassed and bullied -- believe you me -- their classmates who have been bullying them are hearing this language being bandied about, and it might embolden them to perhaps double down on the harassment.

PEREIRA: You're going to keep banging this drum.

WRIGHT: I am.

PEREIRA: And you are hoping that your friends are going to join you.

WRIGHT: I'm hopeful, and I understand that, you know, there's, it's difficult to speak out and say something that you know a portion of your fan base is not going to like. And, you know, at some point, these country music artists that are friends of mine, their kids and their grandkids are going to say, "Papa, did you say something?"

PEREIRA: Yeah.

WRIGHT: You know.

PEREIRA: Chely Wright, you're something else. You're a force to be reckoned with. girl.

WRIGHT: Thank you, Michaela.

PEREIRA: Keep on doing it.

WRIGHT: So good to sit down with you and finally meet you in person.

PEREIRA: The pleasure has been mine. I'm a big fan of hers.

NB Daily Religion Christianity Homosexuality Same-sex marriage Transgender CNN New Day Video Michaela Pereira Chely Wright


Sponsored Links