Famed weatherman, Sam Champion, has already called yesterday the second best day of his life. The first was the day that he married his husband.
I’m eager to get his thoughts.
Sam Champion is here along with his husband, Rubin Robierb.
Sam, early in your career, you had to worry about the public finding out that you were gay.
SAM CHAMPION, WEATHERMAN: Yes.
SMERCONISH: Here you are today. You’re on CNN with your husband.
Doesn’t that say it all?
CHAMPION: It pretty much does.
RUBIN ROBIERB: That says it all. It feels really good.
CHAMPION: Yes, it does. And it — what — the way you said it, it kind of hurts to still hear it because there weren’t gay people in television when I started television. I was afraid if people knew about my life, that I wouldn’t get the opportunity to do what I love to do to succeed in this career.
And it, at times, was difficult. And now it is not.
ROBIERB: Thank god.
SMERCONISH: Well, then he said yesterday — or yesterday in a Tweet that it was the — the second best day of his life and that the first best day, the most special day of his life was the day that he married you.
ROBIERB: That was really sweet. I agree. That’s what — today is the second best day of my life, too. It was such an important decision. And we cannot forget that so many people fight for us for so long time, to we will be able to be here today and talk to you.
SMERCONISH: I remember sitting in my car. I had one of those great radio moments. You were explaining to Howard Stern…
SMERCONISH: — what it was like to come out to your father and to have him be not so accepting.
SMERCONISH: I remember the story. He was a big guy…
SMERCONISH: — and a Marine.
CHAMPION: A career Marine.
SMERCONISH: Might it have been easier for people in your position — and might it be easier going forward for individuals in your position with this decision, because now there’s the imprimatur of the United States Supreme Court saying same-sex marriage is OK?
CHAMPION: Yes. I — I think because, again, we — we all know what we’re taught. And — and I don’t blame my father and the people of his generation, who grew up believing what they learned.
What I want is a new generation of Americans to understand that there is no shame to be felt here. This isn’t — we are no different from anyone else. We’re people who have hopes and dreams and fears and we want to love. And if you want a family, you should be able to have a family. You should be able to live in this country happy.
And I think that, yes, I think this new generation will get that opportunity because of a day like this.
SMERCONISH: You were able, before he passed, to put it all together.
SMERCONISH: I mean there was a time period it went off the clock, not unlike others in your situation…
SMERCONISH: — when you just weren’t speaking.
CHAMPION: Yes. It’s true. And I kind of knew, because he was a brilliant man. And I told him that at the time. I said to him — I said, you’re a lot smarter than you sound right now and I know that you’ll figure this out.
So I don’t really need to, you know, I’ve got a family. At that time, I had friends in New York. So I’ll let you get back to me as soon as you do.
And, um, he kind of did, you know. We — we had the talk and we, you know, we — we understood each other. And it was a — that was a great day for me, as well.
SMERCONISH: Is it easier for the two of you, because you’re a celebrity couple?
ROBIERB: Not at all.
ROBIERB: It’s — it’s funny, I (INAUDIBLE)…
SMERCONISH: Do you think of yourselves that way?
CHAMPION: I don’t think either one of us think of ourselves that way.
ROBIERB: Yes. First of all, we don’t think of ourselves — of ourselves in that way. And I don’t think it is — is easy. Of course, it’s easier as a couple who live in New York or Atlanta or Miami…
ROBIERB: — than for a couple who live in a little city or for Kansas or in a small town. For them, it’s really difficult, because we cannot have that big city (INAUDIBLE) of country…
ROBIERB: — because we have a…
CHAMPION: We have a support group.
ROBIERB: It’s difficult (INAUDIBLE).
CHAMPION: You know, we have a support group. And in a lot of big cities, you do. You have friends and people who are just like you.
I come from small town America. I was born in Paducah, Kentucky and proud of that and proud of the way I grew up.
But it is a lonely place to be if you’re different and not accepted, not Paducah in particular. I don’t want to pick out any city. But I mean, you know, middle America.
CHAMPION: And small towns can be a very lonely place if you’re different and if the community isn’t accepting of that difference.
SMERCONISH: And we should acknowledge, not everybody is celebrating today. I mean some are still having a difficult time accepting this, accepting this, because to them, this is not what marriage is supposed to be.
CHAMPION: Yes. I think there’s a great deal of confusion about what the goals are here. The goals are — this is still a country and should always be a country…
CHAMPION: — that respects religion and supports it. And in your religion, you have the right to believe and worship as you believe.
So this isn’t a decision against religion. It truly is about equality under the law. It’s equality in the world that we live in, in the states that we live in. These cases, if you take time to look at them, they’re heartbreaking in what people have had to live through.
For surviving spouses to not be able to be listed on a death certificate…
CHAMPION: — for two women who — who want to adopt four special needs babies that were abandoned or — or left, surrendered at birth, and to not be able to because the state of Michigan doesn’t recognize them as a married couple, these are real legal difficulties. These are hardships.
You know, we’re not — it — this — this takes it beyond the point where everyone is waving a rainbow flag. This is real life, real pain, real hardship inflicted on real people. And it just shouldn’t be in America.
SMERCONISH: To your point, Sam, the lead plaintiff in this case, whose name I still have difficulty pronouncing.
CHAMPION: I’m with you.
SMERCONISH: Justice Kennedy said, “To fulfill their mutual promise, they traveled from Ohio to Maryland, where same-sex marriage was legal. It was difficult for arthur to move, and so the couple were wed inside a medical transport plane as it remained on the tarmac in Baltimore.”
CHAMPION: It (INAUDIBLE).
SMERCONISH: When you hear details of a case like that, I mean how can you argue with it?
CHAMPION: Yes. And — and so my hope is that anyone who is in love, has been in love, understands love, will be a person who will stand up and say everyone deserves to feel that. I mean if you love someone, hearing that story drives you, I mean just — you can’t take it. You just can’t take it. No one should have to live like that.
SMERCONISH: You know, for me, Rubin, the — the argument here ended when I recognized there was no day in my life where I made a decision that I was interested in women. There was no decision. That’s the way that I was wired.
And I imagine there was not a day in your life when you decided, I think I’ll look for a guy like Sam…
SMERCONISH: — right?
ROBIERB: You don’t wake up one day and decide to be gay. It’s just not an option. That is — that is the whole point, it’s not an option. You — you are what you are and I’m really glad that today, we can be ourselves in that country. Now, officially in the whole country.
SMERCONISH: Sam, did you have to play a role that wasn’t honest or did you just say nothing?
Did you have to hold yourself out on television as being heterosexual when you weren’t?
CHAMPION: I will tell you that coming up in this business and moving from market to market and town to town, I had to make a decision. And my decision was not to talk about it at all, that television was the work. I wasn’t going to talk about my personal life. And if an interviewer sat down and wanted to discuss it with me, I — I would very simply say something that I’m sure we can say on cable, that I would say, look, I really only talk about sex with people I’m about to have sex with. And unless I misunderstand this situation, we don’t need to talk about sex.
So let’s talk about what we’re here to talk about — my work, the forecast or something else.
That was — I was very direct with it and very aggressive about it, because I felt like it was very unfair to have to carry that, to not be just judged solely on my work and my abilities, but to have to carry a label and to be judged for that.
SMERCONISH: Gentlemen, thank you so much for being here.
ROBIERB: Thank you for that.
SMERCONISH: I really appreciate your time.
CHAMPION: A pleasure.
SMERCONISH: Thank you.
ROBIERB: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Rubin, thank you very much.