In case you missed it, wedding bells will be ringing for openly gay MSNBC news anchor Thomas Roberts, who revealed last week in an interview with the New York Observer that he and his fiancé, Patrick Abner, will be married in New York City at the end of next month.
Roberts says that he was the first cable news anchor to come out, disclosing his sexual orientation in a 2006 speech before the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Thankfully, he’s not the only one: cable news personalities Rachel Maddow, Don Lemon, and Anderson Cooper are also out and proud members of the LGBT community. But while Maddow and Lemon are both confirmed to be in long-term committed relationships, Roberts will become the first cable news personality to legally tie the knot with a same-sex spouse.
When the Observer asked him whether his upcoming marriage will adversely impact his journalistic career, Roberts, who was nominated this year for a GLAAD Award for his reporting about the children of LGBT parents, responded:
I am not objective when it comes to equality. And that means for all. I want it for you, for me, for everybody … It’s written in our Constitution: life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, and what’s wrong with talking about that? Nothing. I think LGBT stories right now are newsmakers. So, no matter if you’re straight, gay or Martian, you’re going to be covering them. Because I am who I am, I can provide a different viewpoint, because people at home might know who I am or where I’ve come from—and that’s O.K.
Personally, the above statement illustrates exactly why I’ve been a longtime admirer of Thomas Roberts. He makes no secret of his identity as a gay man, nor does he make any apologies for pursuing LGBT issues as a gay journalist, from a gay perspective. Eau contraire: Roberts is out and proud, and uses his bullhorn — a much larger one than most of the rest of us have, I’ll add — to talk about equality. He challenges viewers’ preconceptions, draws attention to the injustices suffered by LGBT people, provides vital amplification to our community’s stories, and ensures that LGBT-related news stories are covered accurately and truthfully. Roberts consistently and correctly discusses the freedom-to-marry issue as one of marriage equality rather than “gay marriage,” bucking a trend set by the vast majority of his colleagues in the news media. (As readers will undoubtedly know, I’m a firm believer that, when talking about equality, words matter.) And he steadfastly refuses to draw false equivalencies — a tactic fetishized by the mainstream media in which all issues, no matter how clear-cut, are portrayed as having two equally valid and legitimate “sides” — at a time when most of his peers are so beholden to this disingenuous practice that they’re willing to seek the opinion of anti-gay hate groups in a misguided and dangerous effort to appear “balanced” on LGBT issues.
And Abner, Roberts’ fiancé, shares his future husband’s commitment to gay rights: Patrick is currently employed by Merck Pharmaceuticals in their HIV/AIDS division as a liaison to the LGBT community.
Michael and I send our congratulations to Thomas Roberts and Patrick Abner on their engagement and upcoming wedding. We’re thrilled that these two fierce advocates for equality have found love and fulfillment in each other, and wish them joy, success, and long life as they prepare to begin their marriage journey together.
John Becker with Thomas Roberts at an event last weekend in New York: