Tuesday, September 27, 2011

NC Senator: "You're trying to trip me up"

Today I interviewed North Carolina GOP state Sen. James Forrester (below is full audio, as well as a video clip), who sponsored a bill that put a measure on the ballot in that state for May that if passed would ban marriage for gays and lesbian in the state constitution. Forrester, who is also a doctor, had made outrageous, defamatory claims in a town hall weeks ago, saying that gay people die 20 years earlier than other people because of their supposed "lifestyle."

This interview has to be heard to be believed: Forrester not only could not back up his claims with any evidence -- after first trying to source the Centers for Disease Control, only to be debunked by me -- but he actually acknowledged that he could be wrong. He eventually credited a Christian activist named Frank Turek (who is associated with Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage) as his source of this bogus public health information. Forrester had said in his town hall some of his patients were gay men who died early deaths, yet didn't seem to know anything about public health, including that, on a global level, AIDS drastically affects heterosexuals more than gay men. Later, he couldn't answer why he wasn't proposing a divorce ban if his goal is to save marriage, and couldn't explain why gays harm marriage. He accused me at that point of trying to "trip" him up, after I asked some basic questions, and even said he wasn't going to answer any more questions -- though he stayed on the line when I said it would be cowardly of him to leave.

At one point toward the end of the interview a person could be heard in the background, seemingly coaching him. Think Progress has some of the transcript up:

SIGNORILE: Why don’t you ban divorce, why not?

FORRESTER: That wasn’t my intent of the legislation.

SIGNORILE: Is divorce a good thing? I’ll ask you some yes or nos, how’s that? Divorce a good thing?

FORRESTER: I think I’m going to end this conversation right now because I see you’re completely negative, on the other side, trying to set me up.

Listen in to the full interview, or watch the edited version on video, which grabs the most appalling parts.