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tv   Crossfire  CNN  February 26, 2014 3:28pm-4:01pm PST

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felt that if cameras were going to follow us around, why not, why not make something good out of that? >> celebrities the bring attention to an issue, especially in that issue is not the sexiest issue. to get ben affleck involved, all of a sudden it's a little more interesting. >> reporter: that's somethng most politicians have known for a while. jake tapper, cnn, washington. >> i want to thank these celebrities for doing what they're doing because almost all of these causes are extremely important. that's it for me. remember, you can always follow what's going on on twitter, tweet me @wolf blitzer, you can tweet the show @cnn sit room. "crossfire" starts now. tonight on "crossfire" -- what's more important? protecting freedom or preventing discrimination? >> it's not about gay rights or gay discrimination. >> arizona's governor has to
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decide. and the pressure's building. >> veto, veto, veto. >> on the left, van jones, on the right, s.e. cupp. in the "crossfire," neera tanden, who is against arizona's freedom of religion bill, and peter sprigg, who supports it. what should government do if religious freedom lets some people discriminate? tonight on "crossfire." >> welcome to "crossfire." i'm van jones on the left. >> imt s.e. cupp on the right. guests on opposite sides of arizona's religious freedom bill. both major league baseball and the nfl are playing intense pressure on governor jan brewer tonight. mlb will neither support for tolerate any word, attitudes or
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actions that imperil the inclusive communities that we have strived to foster within our game. there's word that the nfl might move the super bowl out of arizona. look, i'm a republican, i'm for religious liberty, i am not for this bill. i think it goes too far. but it does raise important questions, not just about religious freedom, but market freedom. and the government should not compel business owners to provide services to everyone no matter what. and if you think i'm wrong, i bet i can change your mind tonight. >> you're pretty persuasive, but you're up against a big tide of public opinion on this particular set of issues. we're going to get into it tonight. in the "crossfire" neera tanden who is against the bill and we have peter sprigg who supports it. first to you, this is pretty big news. you talked about national baseball, football, millions of fans, haven't you at this point lost the country? what does this say to you? >> well, it says to me that there's never been a bill in the
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40-plus years i've been following american politics that has been subject to so much misinformation as this simple bill from arizona. >> so people are just confused about it, is that your point? >> absolutely. >> all the republicans who are now against it, all of the leaders who are against it, they just somehow didn't read the two-page bill? >> what do people have wrong, peter? >> what people have wrong is this bill is not fundamentally about sexual orientation. it's about religious liberty. it builds on an existing concept that's been established both in federal law and in arizona law for a long time. it was over 20 years ago that the congress passed and president bill clinton signed the federal religious freedom restoration act. the supreme court later ruled that that couldn't apply to the states, so many states including arizona -- arizona is only one of 18 states that have adopted these type of laws. this is a minor amendment to this law. >> would you please educate our friend why this bill is so obnoxious and horrible.
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>> i do appreciate that it actually has bland language, but what it will really do is say to folks that you can deny services, you can deny serving someone because you believe that it's wrong to serve gay and lesbian folks. and that's why, john mccain, senator mccain, senator flake, both republican senators in arizona have said, let's not do this. veto this bill. i truly think that the local chamber of commerce, marriott, apple have come out against this. they know it will create an intolerant atmosphere for gay and lesbian folks in arizona and arizona should say no. >> first of all, arizona does not currently include sexual orientation as a protected category under either employment discrimination laws, so this is the status quo. this does nothing whatsoever to change the status quo of the law in arizona. >> neera, i've said i think this
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bill goes too far. so let's shelf that for a minute. the problem i have and what needs to be discussed in a broader sense is a slippery slope. if you follow this its logical conclusion there are some steps along the way that we could analyze. we'll run a few scenarios by you. i want you to tell me where you stand. for example, this game up in new jersey not long ago. should a baker be forced to write "happy birthday adolph f t hitl hitler" on a birthday cake? >> this is an important issue. there's nothing in the law that says that a baker has to change his menu or her menu to address the needs of a customer. >> so you agree that they should not be forced to participate in communicating a message they disagree such as the celebration of a same-sex union? >> no, this is what i think is the basic issue here. i believe lesbian and gay bisexual -- >> no, no, i know.
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>> i know this is cable, but i'd like to get a second to answer. these people are who they are, they do not choose, it's not a viewpoint. >> i agree with you. >> that's a different issue. one thing to say to somebody i disagree with what you're saying, i find it obnoxious. >> so the baker should? >> yeah, i think a baker should say i think this is obnoxious, i don't want to deal with it. >> let me move to another one. what about gay bars that don't allow bachelorette parties to celebrate other businesses, isn't that discrimination? >> what's interesting about this is i think some of these decisions should be left up to companies or businesses to what they want to do. >> right. >> but the reason why we're concerned about something as expansive as this is because we're saying you're taking this law and you're allowing it to discriminate just like 50 years ago people could have said, you know what? i just don't like
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african-americans. >> right. >> and i don't like interracial couple, so i want to say, i want to say we can discriminate against them and there weren't protections for that. >> there's protective class for women and there are women's-only gyms like curves. that's for sure discriminatory, but i certainly like having those options. >> but women are a protected class, that's why they're allowed to have those -- >> no gender is a protected class. >> as you know in civil rights law, women are a protected class so you can have women's colleges, for example. >> and women private businesses. >> and women-only gyms because women are a protected class. saying that women -- we should protect women is something the civil rights laws -- >> let me say a couple things. first of all, this is tough for america. let's be honest here, we're trying to figure out some balances here that are very, very difficult, values that are very important. >> it's not as black and white.
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>> it's tough. >> it is. >> with you this cuts home for me, and i want to get your counsel here. i tried to get the guy we had on last night and he wouldn't do it. i'm a religious person and you're a religious person, people can use religion to cover up a bunch of stuff. when i was growing up they said god separated the races, therefore segregation is biblically employed. that's what i was told as a child. we'll say you can't put up those no blacks allowed signs. what is the difference between putting up a sign that says no blacks allowed, no gays allowed. you wouldn't want them to put up that no blacks allowed sign. why should they put up a no gays allowed sign? >> first of all, the overall framework should be the default position should be one of liberty. you've alluded to this. that in the free market -- >> absolutely. >> people both consumers is and businesses should be able to
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mutually consent to engage in commercial transactions. >> absolutely. >> and that should be our default position. so nondiscrimination laws, quote, unquote, should be a narrowly carved exception to this overarching principle of liberty. >> you don't mean that liberty doesn't include liberty to discriminate against blacks? >> i agree with that. race is one category in which we have made that exception. we've made it for a couple of reasons. one, because of a constitutional foundation this country has three constitutional amendments, 13th, 14th and 15th amendments that were adopted following the civil war primarily to eliminate diskrcrimination based on race. there are no more based on sexual orientation. >> you have no problem with signs going up in america, we don't serve your kind here, no gays allowed? >> first, let me come back to the nature of this bill. the bill doesn't say that you can put up a sign saying, no gays allowed.
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the bill says that you can assert a -- if you are facing coercion by the government, you can assert a religious liberty right against that government coercion. >> would you be on the side of that store owner that put that sign up? would you be okay with that sign? >> no, i would not support putting up a sign like that. but what i think is wise and what i think should be illegal, what i think the government should coerce somebody to do are two different things. and the bill would say that if you feel there's a conflict between a government policy and your sincere religious belief, you can assert that as a defense against that, but the burden rests on you to demonstrate, a, that it's based on a religious belief, that the religious belief is sincere, and that there is a substantial burden placed upon you. once you've -- only once you've satisfied that burden, which is a high one, does the burden shift to the government and then they have to demonstrate a
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compelling government -- if they can demonstrate a compelling government, then they can override. >> a person can just choose to discriminate say i don't want to serve this person and i understand the interest to bring the government into this, but sometimes these people can just make a decision on their own, the government's not saying anything, then they're discriminating. >> we'll talk about this for a little bit more. i want to surprise you. i'm going to shock you, shock everybody at home. when we come back, i'm going to explain why today's republicans should learn a lesson about gay rights from, of all people, ronald reagan, when we get back. marge: you know, there's a more enjoyable way to get your fiber. try phillips fiber good gummies. they're delicious, and a good source of fiber to help support regularity. wife: mmmm husband: these are good! marge: the tasty side of fiber. from phillips.
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welcome back in the "crossfire" tonight we've got people on the opposite sides of arizona's so-called religious freedom bill. look, another day has gone by and governor brewer still has not veet otoed this thing. the pressure is building from everywhere but the silence from her office deafening and not just from the governor. where are all these big-name republicans who want to be president? marco rubio, rand paul, ted cruz, hello? they have totally disappeared. are they for this bill but they're afraid to say so? are they against it but they're afraid to say that? guy, y guys, you can't lead the free world if you're going to chicken out. be courageous, like ronald reagan. >> say that again. >> be courageous, like ronald reagan. >> thank you. >> back in 1978 he joined the fight against a nutty ballot initiative that would have banned gay teachers in california. that anti-gay measure actually
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lost and two years later the gipper went to the white house. i'm just saying. now, sir, does it bother you that you've heard nothing from champions who love to snuggle up to you, they want a good rating from you, but they're completely missing in action? does it offend you to not hear anything from the front-runners in the republican party? >> when there's so much misinformation about this out there, i can understand them not wanting to jump into the fray on something that is a state issue not a federal issue. if it were a federal law -- >> people from that state are not talking about it. >> mccain has come out the other way. >> or come out to oppose it. >> let me ask you this. you supported -- i'm sorry, senator flake, you gave him a 100% rating. flake has now abandoned you to the wolves and is now saying this is a horrible, horrible bill. how do you feel about that? >> well, i'm upset about it. i think that he's making a mistake and he's responding to the furor in the media rather
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than looking at the actual bill and the principles. can i respond to what you said about ronald reagan? because that law that he came out that would have banned gay teacher, that would have banned any gay person from serving as a teacher in any public school in the state of california. this law in arizona does not ban gay people from hiring wedding photographers or hiring bakers to bake wedding cakes for them. i'm sure they'd have no problem finding someone to serve them and take their money. it's not the one who objects based on conscience is going to be coerced by government to act against their conscience. >> let me go to neera on the flip side of the point that van was making. where are all the republican leaders. where is president obama on this? president obama released a press statement this week on the death of harold ramis. we all loved in "ghostbusters" but has not found time to
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comment on this piece of legislation? >> do you think there are people in america who are confused about his position on this legislation. >> just last year. why wouldn't he come out and talk about this? >> this is a great issue, which i think the question is what is going to be the most effective thing to get jan brewer, the governor of arizona, a person he doesn't have the greatest relationship with. >> yep. >> to say no. and i think if the white house -- my suspicion is if the white house thought it would help her for president obama to come out against it, it would help her do it, then he would absolutely do it. i think the issue is she's facing pressure from the extreme right in arizona and probably hearing president obama come out for it -- >> he's the leader of the country, i think he should come out on this. but let me also just flip this around just again. van just listed a whole host of republicans who either have not talked about this or have condemned this. he laments this fact but finally
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it seems that republicans have learned how not to reflexively defend bad legislation. doesn't this worry you the republicans are finally learning the better strategy on these issues? >> not at all. because if it means like more tolerance and more support for lgbt rights over the long term, i want republicans to do it. i don't think it's good for the country that republicans in the past have opposed gay rights. >> where are the republicans on this? >> i absolutely senator mccain. >> newt king rich. >> s.e. cupp. >> about the obama administration, i haven't heard anything from president obama on this, but i did read today that secretary of state john kerry came out against this bill even though he's the secretary of state and this is strictly a domestic affairs issue. now i would be happier if secretary kerry would spend more time defending religious liberty
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abroad rather than attacking it at home. for example, he's spoken against this arizona bill, but i don't know that he's said anything about the 58 nigerians that were slaughtered yesterday which got a little two-paragraph mention in "the washington post." >> first of all, i want to thank you for raising that. i do think there actually is real religious persecution of christians around the world and we need to talk about that, but one thing i'm concerned about here, you and your organization are presenting this whole thing as if this christian community in this country are coming under this massive assault, yet now i think you have to change your position. you have christians rushing to this side, you have mormons rushing to this side. wouldn't you accede that this is not about the christians being set upon by anti-christians, this is now a fight among christians that this is a bad bill. wouldn't you concede that? >> no, i wouldn't concede that. i would say there are some christians who are fearful as the politicians are of the kind of harassment and vitriolic
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attacks that they suffer whenever they take any position in opposition to homosexual you know, 40% of protestants support marm equality. i don't think that this line that is often put out there by folks like yourself, that all christians are on this side, everybody is against us is against christianity and religion. i don't think that's fair to christians like myself. do you agree with that? >> i think when we're looking at something like this, it's dealing with the exercise of religious liberty on the part of an individual. every individual has the right to respond to what their conscious tells them that their religion demands. so there may be christians who will not make the same decision in terms of what the implications are. >> listen, your organization is incredibly respectful and powerful. i'm making the plea for those of us who are people of faith and don't agree, it feels awful when
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you pretend we are antichristian because we don't agree. >> i definitely believe there should be religious liberty for pro homosexual people of faith and i think there should be at least as equal religious liberty for people who disapprove of homosexuality. >> andrew sullivan who is a prominent gay rights activist recently made a great point. here's what he wrote. the idea of suing these businesses to force them to provide services they're clearly uncomfortable providing is anathema to me. i think it should be repellent to force someone to agree with you and get on your side. is that really the best way to change hearts and minds? >> i think this is a really important distinction, right? because it's whether you sue somebody to do something versus saying, you know what, you have the sanction of law to say i don't like you because you are lgbt, it offends me that you're
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a gay couple and so even though you want to come to my hotel, i'm going to say no because you're a gay couple. it offends me. so i think that these issues are important to litigate and that that's the wrong thing to do. in a tolerant society, we should be welcoming. we have challenges of bullying and other things and people are suffering in the lgbt community. stay here. should businesses be allowed to refuse service based on religious beliefs. tweet yes or no using #crossfire. we also have the outrages of day and i'm outraged because president obama is ignoring the people he needs the most. stay tuned. [ male announcer ] research suggests cell health
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breaking news cnn has just learned that arizona governor jan brewer will speak to the media and the public at 7:45 eastern tonight. she'll be addressing the controversial religious freedom bill that we've been discussing here tonight. let's bring back our guests. rumors have been that she's going to veto this bill. do you think under the new pressure from the nfl, the mlb, that's what she's going to say tonight? >> i hope she'll say because she doesn't want arizona to be an outlier in the country, she wants it to be a place where people feel comfortable and because it's an inclusive place people will veto the bill. i think maybe the super bowl had something to do with it. >> i've heard -- i've heard from some folks that she -- she's vetoing it.
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her reason for vetoing it, if she does, does that matter to you, peter? >> i don't think she should veto it. i think she should sign the bill. i think she should have the courage to stand up against all the bullying and black mail that she's being subjected to. probably the best thing would be to explain as i tried to explain at the beginning of the program, the history of the religious freedom restoration act, what it provides, and importantly, the fact that it first of all doesn't apply to sexual orientation issues. this actually arose because of the controversy over the hhs mandate and companies being forced to pay for medical procedures that offend their conscience, and she should -- >> different show. >> that's a different show. >> and she should explain the history of this bill and that it does not -- this bill does not decide what the outcome of any particular dispute will be, it just establishes a rule for analyzing it. >> let's check in on our fire back results. should businesses be allowed to refuse service based on
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religious beliefs? right now 23% of you say yes. 77% of you say no. neery, you agreed with me earlier that there should be times when a business can refuse service, that it's not necessarily black and white. do those results kind of fall in line, 20/70? >> i'm actually surprised that there are 70 people who really support the ability to not be discriminated against for any of these reasons. i was a little surprised by that. >> how do you feel about it? >> well, it's interesting. when you use a blanket term like refuse services, i think that people react negatively to that. i think if you ask the more specific question as we did in a pole last year -- >> during the show. >> given the specific scenario, for example, of the wedding photographer in new mexico and so forth, our poll actually showed that 85% of the american public felt that those business people should have the opportunity. >> i want to thank you both for being here. the debate will continue online
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at from the left, i'm van jones. >> from the right i'm s.e. cupp. join us from another edition of "crossfire." "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. next, republicans and their war on the 1%. they want to close a major tax loophole and wall street fighting back tonight. plus, spike lee fired up, the film director unleashing a seven minute rant about race and real estate. the man who sparked the tirade. breaking news out of arizona. the government expected to i can ma a major announcement about a bill that critics call anti-gay. let's go "out front." breaking news. much anticipated announcement from the arizona governor's fi


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