(Editor's note: This post was originally published HERE on the GLAAD Blog. GLAAD is a media partner of SDGLN.)
When CNN relaunches Crossfire this afternoon, the new setup will basically mirror the old: Two pundits "from the left" versus two pundits "from the right." However, when it comes to LGBT equality, the matchup is going to be world's apart from where it was when the initial run ended back in 2004. This new table will be three-on-one in favor of full LGBT equality.
The "left" commentators are Stefanie Cutter and Van Jones. Both have solidly pro-LGBT bona fides and are sure to come down on the pro-LGBT equality side of all related matters. While these two could potentially differ on the path toward passing an inclusive ENDA or achieving full marriage equality in all fifty states, the destination is likely to be the same.
The bigger surprise comes on the "right" side of the table. SE Cupp, one of the show's two conservative pundits, is not just a moderate on LGBT issues—she's pretty much an advocate for equality. Not only has Cupp come out strongly in favor of marriage equality, but she has also taken strong stands against anti-LGBT activists. In fact, Cupp has come out so strongly on LGBT issues that when anti-LGBT activist Maggie Gallagher recently misrepresented her view in print, Cupp took the time to write to Gallagher and demand that she "has been a staunch and vocal supporter of gay rights for years," and that she evolved to learn that civil unions were an inadequate way to treat same-sex couples.
Which brings us to the other conservative at this table: Newt. As in Gingrich. While there have been some signs of an evoltion from the former Speaker of the House and Republican presidential candidate, Gingrich is still far from being on our side. He is someone who touts fears of "gay fascism," who pushes false talking points about religious groups who choose to stop complying with nondiscrimination laws, who vowed to reinstate the miltary's ban on homosexuality, who helped fund efforts to outst judges who ruled in favor of equality, and much more. Even if he is starting to realize the inevitabilty of equality, Newt still doesn't care for it, at least not publicly.
But while it will be a great day when LGBT rights are no longer a debatable point at all, it's actually a bit of a poetic setup, this new Crossfire, with its 3/4 support for equality. This show is going to have three seats filled by people who realize that LGBT people deserve their own place at the table. And in the fourth? You'll have one conservative, in the form of a man whose political legacy lies in the past, representing the shrinking percentage of Americans who tried and failed to stem the tide of progress. Newt Gingrich was smack dab in the middle of that rise of the religious right, the likes of which eventually put him in the highest echelons of political power. He himselfmanipulated LGBT equality, most notably in the form of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act," to play up fears, rally around discrimination, and gain control. Newt is still holding on that in his new career as a TV commentator, even as he sees that it is slipping. When the new Crossfire debuts at 6:30 PM (ET) today, Newt Gingrich will get an up-close view of this slipping worldview.
But opposition doesn't have to be permanent, and there's always hope for our pal Newt. We know that people, when they sit and break bread with actual voices of equality and get to know the humans referenced in the fearful rhetoric, tend to have a harder time holding onto the political antagonism. Here's hoping this new Crossfire table will be to Newt what so many of this nation's dining tables have been for so many previously unsupportive voices scattered around the country. Then, as Newt's eyes open to the progress all around him, let's hope that even more Americans minds will open as well. Perhaps his symbolic role as the representative figure of this waning anti-LGBT viewpoint will serve as a lightbulb moment for both himself and countless others. If so, it could be his most fiery move yet!