This past week, in the midst of marriage equality votes in Maryland and a day after the heated back and forth on MSNBC’s Morning Joe between Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) and The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart about Christie's marriage equality bill veto – Metro Weekly spoke with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts about his upcoming appearance in D.C. as the emcee at the 20th Servicemembers Legal Defense Network dinner Saturday, March 3.
That interview with the out gay journalist is coming in this week's Metro Weekly on Thursday, March 1, but first, some straight talk – pun totally intended – from Roberts about President Obama, marriage equality, Christie and Capehart, and his colleague Joe Scarborough.
METRO WEEKLY: What do you think about Obama's "evolving" position on marriage equality?
THOMAS ROBERTS: I think "evolving" is an active word. I think that the work the administration has done to declare [the Defense of Marriage Act] to be unconstitutional, to enact this whole repeal in the military of the policy "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" – I think the handwriting is on the wall for what his evolution means.
MW: The word itself, "evolution," suggests that you are going to a place.
ROBERTS: We're all going somewhere.
MW: Presumably, he's not planning on evolving from supporting civil unions to supporting less.
ROBERTS: I think your question is better suited for President Obama than for me. He could probably explain better what he means by "evolving."
MW: [On Feb. 23], on your network Gov. Chris Christie claimed that he and Obama –
ROBERTS: Oh, God.
MW: Everybody's seen this, he said that he and Obama have the same position, and Jonathan Capehart almost fell over.
ROBERTS: It's not true. I think Jonathan did a great job yesterday in terms of being on our air and providing facts of what the case is. I'm not sure the governor liked that so much, but I think that that’s politics, what’s taking place. A lot of what you’re watching on the air is politics and people jockeying for position and jockeying for re-election or jockeying for where they're going in their own party, and sometimes they forget that they're actually talking about peoples' everyday lives, real people, everyday people are affected by that. Me.
I was watching on the couch at my mother's house in Baltimore, and I was – she said, "Give me your phone, you can't tweet anymore." Because in watching that conversation, I thought, "How interesting is this that here we are in the morning and I'm waking up in my home state of Maryland and they’re having this conversation on my network – and later that day in my home state of Maryland marriage equality passes."
MW: One of the things that I did see on Twitter was somebody saying, "I wonder if Christie has been challenged by an out gay journalist on this before?" – referring to Jonathan's questioning of him. It is an interesting question of whether or not there is a difference when somebody is questioned by an out gay journalist as opposed to it being someone else – and I think that was shown by the way that Joe Scarborough handled it, introducing the topic as a joke about Ron Paul and Mitt Romney not being able to kiss in the state anymore.
ROBERTS: Make out.
MW: Yeah, not being able to make out anymore.
ROBERTS: They were going to make out on the stage the night before – and that leads us into "Well, you can't do that in New Jersey."
MW: And Scarborough added, "Thanks to you, buddy."
ROBERTS: I didn't think it was the brightest of segues to get into a topic that affects so many across this country, that is so serious, that is a basic equality issue about a person's civil rights. And I was glad that Jonathan Capehart was there because I was sitting at home watching that. It's almost like having an all-male panel coming to talk to Congress about contraception, and there wasn't an LGBT voice on that panel that could talk back to Chris Christie. So, I was really proud that Jonathan Capehart was able to be there to raise the level of conversation and debate and represent the facts, but also to be there to ask the questions. But again, as someone who represents the LGBT community.
[Photo: Roberts (Photo by Michael Young.)]