Openly gay MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts will be the new host of the network's Way Too Early, the half-hour show which airs at 5:30 AM.

Roberts will leave his current 11 AM slot to replace current host Brian Shactman, who has occupied the post since he replaced Willie Geist earlier last year. Roberts will also be seen on Morning Joe, which follows Way Too Early.

“This is a very exciting opportunity and right in line with my career goals and aspirations,” Roberts said in a statement. “I really admire what Joe, Mika, Willie and Brian have built with Morning Joe and Way Too Early. I am flattered to join this morning family. I also appreciate Phil's faith in me and can't wait to get started.”

Roberts was one of the first television news personalities to come out gay, doing so in 2006. He married Patrick D. Abner in the fall of 2012 in New York City.

Roberts was criticized last year for agreeing to host the Miss Universe pageant in Russia. But he spoke out against the nation's anti-gay law from the event's red carpet.

(Related: Thomas Roberts: Russian anti-gay law is discrimination.)