Don's 'Debate': Openly Gay CNN Anchor Hosts Dem Strategist and 'Pro-Gay Marriage' Conservative

Is this CNN's idea of objectivity? To discuss a gay marriage bill in the New York state senate, openly-gay CNN anchor Don Lemon hosted a Democratic strategist and a pro-gay marriage conservative Sunday. Given the probability that all three would support the legislation, one can only wonder how an honest debate could have transpired during Sunday's 6 p.m. EDT edition of Newsroom.

National Review's Will Cain has made frequent appearances on CNN recently, including one week earlier on Sunday night's Newsroom to discuss the validity of socially-conservative positions with mainstream America. Cain is a self-described "pro-gay marriage supporter," and presumably was brought on Sunday to represent the "conservative" point of view across from Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons.

Lemon oddly asked Cain to answer who he worked for – as if to emphasize that a columnist for a conservative publication is pro-gay marriage. Cain didn't take long to air his stance on the issue, and hinted that Lemon knew full-well his support for gay marriage.

"But, Don, you know I feel this way. This is an idea whose time has come," he told Lemon. "Marriage is intricately tied to human happiness. And I think that's something we should look at now being ready to extending to all the people in the United States."

"Why then are so many conservatives against it?" Lemon asked, trying to get Cain to isolate social conservatives. Cain answered that it is not a matter of politics, but that resistance to gay marriage is driven by religious beliefs.

Later on, in the 10 p.m. EDT hour, CNN featured a sympathetic look at an elderly same-sex couple, having lived together for decades. "They've been together for 61 years. And they'll never forget the first time their eyes met," CNN business correspondent Alison Kosik cooed. The couple hoped the law would pass, for future generations and so that they could "complete" their relationship by being officially married.

"No matter how the vote turns out, Richard and John say their love will always be in harmony," Kosik gushed.

A partial transcript of both segments is as follows:

CNN
NEWSROOM
6/19/11
6:17 p.m.-6:21 p.m. EDT    

[6:17]

LEMON: OK. You just heard our conversation about the same sex marriage here in New York. I'm in New York City now. So, I'm going to go to Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. He's in Washington. Will Cain is right here in New York. He's also a political analyst. And what's the web site you work for?

WILL CAIN, CNN contributor: NationalReview.com.

LEMON: NationalReview.com. OK. So, what do you think as you heard those two gentlemen there talk about – you were listening intently and you have some very strong opinions about it. What do you think? Is it going to pass? Do you agree with what either of them said?

CAIN: You know, the gentleman you had from the National Organization for Marriage said something interesting. He said, in every one of these states this has happened, we've seen unintended consequences.

LEMON: Brian Brown.

CAIN: Yes. And as a conservative, let me tell you something – I take very seriously the concept of unintended consequences. You have no idea when you make legislative maneuvers what kind of things that can spin off. But, Don, you know I feel this way. This is an idea whose time has come. Marriage is intricately tied to human happiness. And I think that's something we should look at now being ready to extending to all the people in the United States.

LEMON: Then, so why then do so many conservatives – you are conservative and a proud conservative --

CAIN: Right.

LEMON: Why then are so many conservatives against it?

CAIN: You know, I mean, I think the marriage driving force behind –

LEMON: And I don't mean Democrat or Republican about that, because there are conservatives in certain communities who just, you know –

CAIN: You know, that's an important point. So let's drop conservative-liberal because it's not Democrat-Republican. It's not conservative-liberal.

LEMON: OK.

CAIN: I think the major opposition to it stems from religious beliefs.

(...)

[6:21]

LEMON: And thank you, Will Cain, here. I know you. Anyway, we'll talk about it – about your conservatism. I'm not so sure sometimes.


CNN
NEWSROOM
6/19/11
10:13 p.m.-10:16 p.m. EDT

[10:13]

(Video Clip)

ALICIA SALZER, supports same-sex marriage: I think we're sending a loud and clear message about whether our families, and our life, and our choice, and who we are and our love is legitimate or not. And kids are watching.

(End Video Clip)

LEMON: The national debate over same-sex marriage has stormed into New York. The state assembly approved a bill on Wednesday that would legalize gay marriage, and the state Senate could vote on it as soon as Monday. If approved, New York would become the sixth state and the most populous to legalize same-sex marriage. The eyes of the nation are watching. And so are two men who say that they have been waiting for this moment for more than six decades.    Our Alison Kosik has their story.

(Video Clip)

ALISON KOSIK, CNN business correspondent: (voice-over): They've been together for 61 years. And they'll never forget the first time their eyes met.

JOHN MACE: We didn't know each other. I had a part-time job at the Julliard to bring in money. And in walked this young man. I knew my life was changing right there and then. And it did.

KOSIK: Richard Dorr is 84 years old. John Mace is 91.

JOHN MACE: (singing)

KOSIK: At this tender age they both still teach. It was music that brought them together professionally and personally.

MACE: He would find excuses to come and sing for me.

RICHARD DORR: I want to sing for you, which really meant I want to be near you.

KOSIK (voice-over): They've been near each other ever since after years of pretending to be straight.

DORR: It was like a load off – no more making – making believe that you're who you're not. That's – that's a burden that people who are gay carry all the time.

KOSIK: Still, something is missing from their relationship.

MACE: I come from an Italian family. And they're the marrying kind.

KOSIK: Richard and John first thought of getting married more than 40 years ago. Back then, gay marriage was unheard of. Now New York is on the brink of becoming the latest and largest state to legalize gay marriage.

MACE: Why not? Why not complete this relationship?

KOSIK: They dismiss those who say it will ruin traditional marriage.

DORR: The only sanctifying element in a marriage is what the two people bring to it. It's not by somebody saying words.

KOSIK: They hope gay marriage will be something the next generation won't need to worry about.

MACE: They deserve better than what we had. I mean, it was very difficult. It's terrible to be looked down on and considered a second-class citizen. That's really what it is.

DORR: What he said.

KOSIK: No matter how the vote turns out, Richard and John say their love will always be in harmony.

DORR: Thank you, John.

KOSIK: Alison Kosik, CNN, New York.

(End Video Clip)

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014