Monday, October 05, 2009

In a previously unpublished interview, the late Walter Cronkite, legendary journalist, revealed his candid opinions on many gay rights issues

Walter Cronkite, the legendary journalist, reveals in a previously unpublished interview, his opinions on gays in the military, same-sex marriage and much more.

Bay Windows reports
Mark Segal met Walter Cronkite when he disrupted the live broadcast of the CBS Evening News in December 1973 by holding a sign in front of Cronkite which read "Gays Protest CBS Prejudice." They later became friends and this interview was recorded during one of their lunches. Walter Cronkite’s candor surprised Segal, who thought he was ahead of his time. Upon Cronkite’s death, the interview was pulled out of the drawer where it has resided for 13 years, un-published. (Edited by Jason Villemez)

Mark Segal: What are your thoughts on gay marriage?

Walter Cronkite: I don’t see why states should have any interest in gay marriage. That’s not an issue that the state government or any government should be involved in. This is a personal question and should be solved on a personal basis, and I just don’t believe the government has any role in it.

If there is an attempt to legislate against it, like the attempt to legislate against abortion, this is an interference of personal and civil rights that should be protested and contested. Short of that, the attitude ought to be, "Well, that’s the way they feel. This doesn’t have to be the way I feel, but, let’s live and live together and accept these things."

So I think that I’m getting on very dangerous ground here, but I think there is a danger in trying to force an acceptance of your lifestyle. This ought to come through the more gradual educational process. But I don’t want to sound like [Republican presidential candidate Steve] Forbes.

It really isn’t your business to sell this to the public. Educate the public. But don’t try to sell it. And, and I think that there, sometimes the line is crossed there -- that you’re trying to propagandize the people to, to accept what, what you believe to be right. There is a fine line there between defense and aggression, and that line has to be very clearly defined and closely observed.

Mark Segal: Acceptance has been a long time coming, and we still have areas like the military where public support has risen but those in the leadership have not bought into the notion.

Walter Cronkite: In the military, I believe fully that, there again, it’s a question of, of one’s civil rights and one certainly should have the right to live as one chooses. The suggestion that homosexuality is somehow going to be forced upon the other members of the barracks seems to me to be a non-issue. It’s just a ridiculous red herring.

Read full interview here.

Below is an article chronicling the relationship between Mark Segal and Walter Cronkite.

How do you turn Walter Cronkite into a friend of gay rights? Zap him.

Edward Alwood writes:

Following the Stonewall riots in 1969, as the nascent gay rights movement became increasingly combative, a gay Philadelphia teenager initiated his own guerrilla war aimed at television, including the "CBS Evening News." Nineteen-year-old Mark Segal became angry when he and a male friend were thrown out of a television dance program one August afternoon in 1972 after the program's host saw them dancing together. In retaliation, Segal barged into the studio of Philadelphia's WPVI a few days later during its evening newscast. Startled studio personnel wrestled him to the floor, tied his hands with a microphone cable and called the police.

Segal became a walking terror with his "zaps," as they were called. In 1973, his targets included "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and "The Mike Douglas Show." He and a friend staged their last and most notorious zap when they posed as college students and obtained passes for the "CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite." Midway through the broadcast on Dec. 11, 1973, as Cronkite began a story about Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Segal darted in front of the camera with a sign reading "Gays Protest CBS Prejudice." READ MORE