Hansen (left) and Blackwell
WATCH: Critique and Defense of Michael Sam on CNN, Plus a History Lesson

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com May 14 2014 3:41 PM ET

Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen proved more than a match for the Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell in a discussion of Michael Sam on CNN Tonight.

On the show Monday night, Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state who now works for the antigay group, called Sam’s televised celebratory kiss with his boyfriend after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams “inappropriate and over-the-top.” He continued, “That was well-orchestrated. That was not a spontaneous expression of joy.”

Hansen, who has defended out football player Sam against homophobes on several occasions, decried the negative reaction to the kiss. “This happened to be Michael Sam’s way of celebrating something that an openly gay man had never had the opportunity to do before,” he said.

Later, host Bill Weir asked Blackwell if he thinks homosexuality is a sin, and Blackwell didn’t give a direct answer, instead invoking well-worn arguments against marriage equality. “I believe that natural, traditional marriage should be between a man and a woman,” he said, adding of same-sex marriage, “If we go down this slippery slope … we better be ready for two men and one woman or two women and one man.”

Hansen countered, “Ken, there used to be a day when the state decided black men could not marry white women.”

Media watchdog group Equality Matters lambasted CNN for giving Blackwell a platform. “There’s no reason for CNN to be surprised that Blackwell used his appearance on the network to justify anti-gay discrimination,” writes Equality Matters blogger Luke Brinker. “The FRC specializes in malicious anti-LGBT smears, including the discredited claim that gay men aim to ‘recruit’ children and are disproportionately likely to be child molesters. The group’s agenda extends far beyond opposing marriage equality and basic non-discrimination protections for LGBT people; the FRC is on the record in support of laws criminalizing gay sex.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a national civil rights group, has classified the Family Research Council as a hate group because of the misinformation it uses to justify its opposition to LGBT rights.

Later in the show, Weir traced the evolution of TV’s fictional and factual portrayals of interracial and same-sex relationships, and LGBT people in general, from a kiss between white actor William Shatner and black actress Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek through a macho athlete coming out as gay to bigoted character Archie Bunker on All in the Family to Sam’s kiss and bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst’s win in the Eurovision Song Contest. Weir declared the preceding weekend a big one for “love and acceptance.”

Watch both segments of the show below.