A day later, Sam Champion is still feeling mightily the impact of Supreme Court decisions on the rights of same-sex couples.
The weather anchor for ABC’s “Good Morning America” married husband Rubem Robierb in New York last December. The effect on them was major Wednesday (June 26) when the Court declared unconstitutional the part of the Defense of Marriage Act denying same-sex couples federal benefits, and decided not to intervene in a lower court’s ruling against California’s Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Upon seeing the announcement on the “GMA” ticker while on the air for the West Coast telecast, Champion said his heart was “pounding.” He confirms the news and its immediate aftermath — including a on-camera hug from friend and “GMA” news anchor Josh Elliott — made for “a very special day” for him and his spouse.
“Honestly, it was,” he tells Zap2it. “My husband was at home, and I had a chance to talk to my entire family … and I am mindful of how this changes the lives of so many people. I am lucky. I work in a business that, today, doesn’t judge me for who I am. That wasn’t always the case coming up in the business.
“And I live in a city that doesn’t stop me or disapprove, necessarily, of who I am. And I live in a state that allows me to marry the person I love. We have a long way to go on being equal or considered equal in this country, but I’m luckier than most. There are still a lot of people who can’t live their lives happily because someone else is judging them, unfairly.”
Champion stresses that individuals “are all wired differently. We care about different things and we love different people. That’s everybody, and trying to put everybody in one box is just ridiculous. And trying to tell people they have to live their lives in a certain way, whether they’re happy or not, is crazy.
“There are people who were just waiting for that affirmation yesterday that they’re OK,” adds Champion, “that their relationships are as important and as significant as their neighbors’, and that they’re not going to be penalized for who they love. It was a big day for an awful lot of people.”
Despite his high visibility, not only on “GMA” but also other ABC News programs when the network’s “Extreme Weather Team” goes into action, Champion maintains he is “not someone who decided he wanted to be the face of any movement. That’s not why I got married, none of that. But after we got married, what happened to Rubem and me was amazing … the kind of response from people coming up to us.
“One of the most touching things happened when we were in line at Reagan National Airport in Washington to go through security. This woman was pushing her way through the crowd, crying and coming at us. Everyone else was looking at her like, ‘What’s going on?,’ and she just wanted to tell us her daughter’s story — how difficult it was for her daughter, who was in the military, to be with the woman she loved.
“[The mother] just wanted to thank us for being public about our wedding, because in some way, it made it easier for her and her daughter to have conversations with the people around them. We weren’t prepared for that, but I think about those people every day, the people who can’t live their lives as openly as we do.”