MSNBC Republican: Ariz. Religious Freedom Law Is ‘Outright Discrimination’

MSNBC truly doesn’t have much use for dissenting views – even from the Republican contributors who appear on the network to offer a supposedly conservative or (lowercase-L) libertarian perspective. On Saturday’s Weekends with Alex Witt, GOP strategist Susan Del Percio marched in lockstep with all of the liberals on MSNBC by lashing out at Arizona’s proposed religious freedom bill.

Del Percio appeared as part of the episode’s “Big 3" panel. Liberal contributor Goldie Taylor was the first to comment on the Arizona bill, and she was predictably venomous toward it, believing it was just an excuse for business owners to discriminate against homosexuals. Fill-in host T.J. Holmes then turned to Del Percio and gave her a chance to play up the religious freedom aspect of the bill:


[M]ake the argument that this was necessary to take another step towards religious freedom, or is this just outright discrimination?
 

Del Percio had an opening to defend the bill if she wanted to, or at least sympathize with the concerns of religious business owners who do not want to get sued for following their conscience. A conservative Republican would have argued for the need to protect freedom of conscience for business owners with certain religious beliefs, even if, perhaps, questioning whether this law was the best mechanism for doing so. But Del Percio is no conservative. Instead of dissenting from Taylor’s view, she agreed with it, and was just as vehement as Taylor in the process: “Outright discrimination. That's all this bill is.... It's just unacceptable. There’s no room for it in our society.”

That’s MSNBC’s idea of an acceptable Republican – a staunch social liberal who won’t put up a strong defense of conservative values. After all, they wouldn’t want any real debate over their liberal pet causes, would they? Holmes pretty much summed up MSNBC’s attitude when, responding to Del Percio’s rant against the bill, he remarked to Democratic strategist Morris Reid, “Morris, you know, there's not much you can say past that.”

It turned out there wasn’t anything Reid could say past that. A few seconds later, Holmes interrupted the conversation to cut away to a Q&A session at the NFL scouting combine with Michael Sam, the college football player who recently announced that he is gay. It was another sign of an obsession with homosexuality from a network that doesn’t usually cover sports, much less the NFL combine. In fact, Holmes interrupted himself mid-word --doubtless at the urging of a producer -- in order to get to the Sam coverage in time:
 

We're seeing several other measures similar to this popping up in state legislatures. Some have been knocked down, some are pending. But at the same ti – you know what, guys, I need you all to stand by for a second. Something we’ve been waiting to hear from. Michael Sam, I'm being told, is stepping to the podium here.

Below is a transcript of the segment:

 

T.J. HOLMES: Let me start with you, Goldie. Out in Arizona, Republican governor Jan Brewer now is going to have to decide whether or not she is going to sign into law that controversial bill that would allow business owners to refuse service to gay customers based on religious beliefs. All right. She signs it, she doesn't sign it. Weigh both sides here for me.

GOLDIE TAYLOR: I don't think she can sign it. I think that this is an absolutely dangerous trend for Arizona to take. I call them the gay codes. What if I decided that in my business I didn't want to serve evangelical Christians? Wouldn't they be outside claiming tyranny here in the United States? What if I decided I wanted to discriminate based on my religious beliefs against people who have blue or green eyes? Wouldn't people with blue or green eyes say that I was, you know, moving on tyranny here in the United States? I think this is absolutely dangerous. I think there are two tacks you’ve got to take. Number one, is this constitutional? That question has to be answered, and I don't believe it is. And secondly, people have got to vote with their wallets. I think that you hit them both in court and in the pocketbook, and that's how you -- you know, I think that people have every right to be a bigot. You just don't have the right to exercise those beliefs on other people.

HOLMES: Susan, to her point there about -- you know this, you talk about religious freedom. But make the argument that this was necessary to take another step towards religious freedom, or is this just outright discrimination?

SUSAN DEL PERCIO: Outright discrimination. That's all this bill is, and I really hope for Jan Brewer's sake she does veto it. She does have her legacy to think about, which has had its ups and downs, and I don't think she wants to go out on the note of allowing this discriminatory legislation to go through. It's just unacceptable. There’s no room for it in our society.



HOLMES: And Morris, you know, there's not much you can say past that. But outside of Arizona, we are seeing it. We talked about this on msnbc.com. We're seeing several other measures similar to this popping up in state legislatures. Some have been knocked down, some are pending. But at the same ti – you know what, guys, I need you all to stand by for a second. Something we’ve been waiting to hear from. Michael Sam, I'm being told, is stepping to the podium here, a young man who came out as gay is going to be drafted into the NFL by all expectations at the combine. He's taking questions now. Let's listen into this for a second.
 

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.