Video: Dan Savage Debates Brian Brown

This has been in the works for a while and it has finally been released. Mark Oppenheimer of the New York Times moderated an informal debate between gay rights activist (and all around awesome person) Dan Savage and the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown:

The video is below. It’s about an hour long. I’m gonna watch this over dinner. If you see anything interesting, leave the timestamps and summaries in the comment section!

***Update***: Having watched it, I was most struck by how Brown was unable to name a single harm that would result from gay marriage. The worst it would do, in his mind, is change the “definition of marriage.” Doesn’t bother me, since it’s been changed (for the better) repeatedly throughout our country’s history.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Saggar14
  • captainthecapn

    Dan Savage is hardly awesome. He’s cool if you’re a thin, gay, white man- since those are the only people he cares about, apparently.

  • William Perrin

    47:50 or so – “Because you believe something is wrong, it doesn’t mean you make it illegal.” – Brian Brown.

  • Stev84

    Brown explaining why that can’t be extended to same-sex marriage is mind-bogglingly stupid. He simply shuts down and repeats crap like “same-sex marriage can’t exist by definition” several times. Then he has the temerity to claim that he argues based on logic. I have no idea how Dan Savage managed to not break out in laughter.

    Overall he just repeats the usual silly NOM talking points endlessly.

  • Julie Lada

    Did anyone else notice the stringy, white goop on Brown’s lips around the 41:00 mark? I vomited in my mouth a little.

  • Artoo45


  • Collin

    The only harms I’ve seen traditional marriage proponents trumpet besides definition disputes are statements like “Our kids will be taught that being gay is ok!”

    Here’s an example of what we’re dealing with in Minnesota right now leading up to the one-man one-woman amendment in November. 

  • Richard Wade

    Yes, thank you Artoo45, I was just about to ask what is the evidence for this characterization of Dan Savage.

  • captainthecapn

    Okie dokie. Here’s a good list that shows plenty of the crappy things this dude has said: 

  • unclemike

     I noticed that, too. Was he literally frothing at the mouth??

  • unclemike

     I think those quotes are all from his advice column. I also think forming an opinion about these quotes without the context of the entire column (including the letters asking for his advice) is a bit disingenuous.

    He does more good than harm and does not suffer fools gladly. He has also apologized for his words more than once, which is more than I can say for some people.

  • Hellbound Alleee

    Brian Brownshirt kept on using the phrase “That certain something that makes a marriage  between one man and one woman special.” A je ne sais quois, if you will.

    I wanted to hold him at “gun”point” figuratively and make him say what he is too embarrassed to say. That the certain something is a wee wee and a hoo hoo.

  • Val Commons

    Context?  You mean like the whole articles linked at the bottom of the page that show they are not being misrepresented?  He does not get a free pass to make transphobic remarks just because he’s an “ally”.  BS is BS, I don’t care who says it.

  • LesterBallard

    Maybe he couldn’t disguise how  “excited” he was . . .

  • Brice Gilbert

    Dan should’ve just said out right that polygamy is quiet possibly a reasonable concept. He was right to point out that that usually their are issues with them, but hypothetically there is no real issue.

  • Adam Sweet

    He says that the definition of marriage is the conjugal pairing of a man and a woman, the 2 halves of the human race, able, if not obliged, to procreate and produce children.

    I can’t find anything wrong with that.

    So we need a new way of describing two adults who want to live together and do everything together, have kids or adopt, etc.  What shall we call it?  Hmm…we’re civilians, so how about “civil” and we want to be recognized as “officially together” so how about calling our togetherness a “union”…Eureka!  Civil Unions!  

    Let’s call it a Civil Union!

  • unclemike

    Yes, context. If one were to click on every single link on the bottom of that article, one would be able to read the entire advice column, including Dan’s lengthy and thoughtful replies that have one or two questionable sentences within pages and pages of writings.

    But one would have to click on every single link instead of just reading the out-of-context quotes alone, and most people are not wont to do so.

    I think he has done more good than harm, and I think he has apologized enough for the stupid things he’s written and/or said. You feel differently. Fine.

  • John Purcell

    I agree with Hemant. It seems like Brown is locked into a belief about what marriage is supposed to be applied to, (as someone below said, one person with a hoo-hoo and one person with the opposite thingy), and he won’t back off of it, despite the fact that he doesn’t believe  you should make something illegal even if you think it’s wrong.

    Maybe he’s not a bigot, but he sure is a hypocrite, and there’s a hell of a lot of hypocrisy that is justified by bigotry out there.

  • Stev84

     Let’s try “civil marriage” which already has nothing to do with religious marriage

  • Cafeeine

     My position on the issue, divorced (sic) from the reality on the ground is that governments should get out of the marriage issue and offer Civil Union Certificates to perform all secular functions a marriage has. At that point, a gay couple can perform a marriage ceremony and call themselves married or not, and this would have no effect to the validity of the CUC’s. If NOM doesn’t want to recognize that marriage, that’s fine too, but they can’t discriminate against civil unions.
    As I said, this is my theoretical position, as it seems far more likely that gay marriage will happen than churches will allow the implicit recognition of their ‘sacrament’ to go to the wayside.

  • Bill C.

    What struck me was how Brown just kept repeatedly insisting that gay marriage could never be marriage, as a square could not also be circle.  I thought he was going to throw a hissy fit.  And in true xtian form, marriage should not be about adult desires, but instead be about other stuff that seemed to imply some sort of personal sacrifice.  Dude, if you want to equate marriage and parenthood to some form of martyrdom, go ahead.  But for pete’s sake, count me out.

  • captainthecapn

    The person asked for citations, and that’s exactly what I gave him. If they don’t click on the links to read the full article, then that’s their problem- I guess they’re not a very logical person.

    I disagree that his responses are “thoughtful” and only include a few “questionable” sentences. He used a transphobic slur in the title of one of his columns and continued to use it throughout the piece. That’s not being “thoughtful,” that’s being shitty.

    What “good things” has Dan Savage really done? The “It Gets Better” campaign? Whoopdecrap. White gay men telling other white gay men that it gets better isn’t any earth-shattering profundity. As someone underrepresented in the LGBTQ community- I don’t give a rat’s ass about his campaign. It certainly doesn’t help me, nor does it help the millions of others in the LGBTQ community who are not thin, white, cis, gay men. 

    It’s made even worse given that Dan Savage is clearly a racist, ageist, transphobic, biphobic, queerphobic, misogynistic, body shaming asshole.

  • ErickaMJohnson

    Dan Savage is brilliant for suggesting to hold the debate in his home. It grounds the conversation about marriage equality in more personal terms. And there’s no catcalling from the audience, no cheap digs to get applause. It’s an intimate way to have this important conversation.

  • Stev84

    Oh FFS, not this again. Marriage as a legal construct is already entirely secular and has been since the 19th century. All that counts is the marriage certificate and you can get married in front of civil authorities. The religious woo is optional. In many European countries you must have a civil marriage before a religious one can even take place.

    There is a reason even priests say “by the power invested in me by the state…”. What needs to happen in the US is that civil and religious marriage should be made more distinct. Clergy shouldn’t be allowed to notarize legal documents. They can hold a ceremony, but it shouldn’t have any legal significance. Way too many people conflate the two because both are usually performed at the same time.

  • Stev84

    I noticed similar patterns with other same-sex marriage opponents. They fixate on one extremely simplistic and often unrealistic belief and then apply that to everything. NOM’s Maggie Gallagher does the same, which was caused by her own past and her projecting her own failures on everyone else.
    Or take Prop 8 “star witness” David Blankenhorn. He somehow got it into his head that if he could just somehow force fathers to stay with their families many modern social problems could be solved. And at some point he extended that to same-sex marriage even though there is no logical connection to that already absurd premise.

  • Randomfactor

     Alternatively, we could go with Adam’s suggestion of calling one “marriage” and the other “civil union,” and then let Dan Savage decide which one applies to same-sex unions.

    We parents call that the “one kid cuts the cake, the other chooses the slices” rule.  It makes the kid cutting the cake VERY careful.

  • Cafeeine

     ..And because they have the same name, and because they’ve been taught that the civil part of the marriage is ‘just a formality’.

     We aren’t disagreeing, broadly taken. Note that I’m not conceding ‘marriage’ to the religious, I’m saying that we should disconnect marriage with the secular civil functions of e.g. insurance, medical rights, inheritance rights etc. Then, if the NOMs want to only view OMOW bethrothals done under their faith as marriage, no skin from my nose.

    Of course, there is a larger point in that the ‘sanctity of marriage’ is not the issue. Treating homosexuals as diseased subhumans that need to heel until they find Jesus is the issue. My proposal (which was my opinion beyond the gay marriage issue) might bring up notions of ‘separate but equal’ which isn’t my intention.

  • Anon

    Speaking as the child of a single parent family who has no desire to get to know the father who paid child support for 18 years but couldn’t be arsed to send me a single birthday card or attempt to contact me I think I’d rather have my happy, fuctional single parent family than have a two parent family where one of the parents really didn’t want to be there.

  • unclemike

     The advice column in question is from 2003. Do you believe people can change? He has apologized for using that term and, in fact made a public statement last November that he has avoided using that term since he was called out on it.  Obviously you don’t think that adequate, and that’s fine.

    I have to take exception with your characterization of the It Gets Better movement. Just because you did not feel it spoke immediately and directly to your life does not mean it’s only white gay men talking to other white gay men.  You’re either being willfully ignorant or simply disingenuous, as even a minimal search reveals people of varying ages, ethnicities, and sexualities making videos for all.

  • Collin

    Just caught something at 1:06.  Brian said that he thinks no-fault divorce should be illegal in his ideal world.

  • Collin

    1:06:00 to be clear

  • Kimpatsu

    Doesn’t bother me, since it’s been changed (for the better) repeatedly throughout our country’s history.”

    You’re so parochial, Hemant. The definition of marriage has changed far more over the course of human history, not the mere 200+change years the USA has been around.

  • Miss_Beara

    That sounds like my life too! My mom and grandma raised me. My dad paid child support but I saw him about 10 times from 5-10 years, nothing from 11-15 and once when I was sixteen. I am 28 now. It has been 12 years since I saw, heard or received any sort of “hey! I remember you are alive” birthday card. 

  • Justin Miyundees

    At 26 minute mark, attacking someone’s religion is disrespectful – the Teflon defense. Ha!

    Bad ideas are fair game – and Savage didn’t call “those young students’ religion” bullshit – he moral posits in the bible bullshit like its stance on slavery, shellfish, etc.

    Also, classic kick off by Brown to claim the role of victim. Riiiiiiight.

    Go Dan!

  • Abnormal Wrench

     I am always fascinated by the bizarre hate groups Dan Savage enjoys.  He isn’t alone, mind you.  Just last week I was in a conversation with someone over Rachael Maddow’s effective reporting on “gay therapy”, and a transgender “activist” told me Maddow was just as bad as the conservative christians because she didn’t point out same religious groups think transgender issues can be untaught in a similar fashion.

    No, I’m not kidding.

  • Justin Miyundees

    @ about 43 minutes: EVERYONE agreed about human sexuality…. Everyone? Everyone @ the Council of Jerusalem…. That’s EVERYONE?

  • Justin Miyundees

    If marriage should LEGALLY be “the lifelong commitment between one man and one woman,” that’s going to bring the IRS in to collect back taxes from couples who fail to make it “lifelong” and I can imagine some social security and insurance benefits could be brought into play.

    Another point that came up and needed more clarification was that if an organization takes state money, their rights to discriminate based on race, creed, or gender are GONE. If you’re taking state money, you follow the antidiscrimination laws period.

  • Anna

    What’s odd is that anti-gay people seem to have gotten this idea in their heads that banning same-sex marriage is going to make men like your father and Anon’s father want to be involved in their children’s lives.

    There’s just such a disconnect there. It’s like if they scream “children need a mother and a father” loudly enough, it will somehow make children who don’t have those parents magically acquire them. It’s as if they’re at a performance of Peter Pan, frantically clapping their hands to make Tinker Bell come to life.

  • Anna

    The only harms I’ve seen traditional marriage proponents trumpet besides definition disputes are statements like “Our kids will be taught that being gay is ok!”

    It’s all so ridiculous. I wonder how they think banning same-sex marriage will prevent their children from being taught that homosexuality is okay. Have they elaborated on that? Because their kids are going to get the same exposure to these issues regardless of whether the law passes.

    In fact, if they really didn’t want children to be aware of gay marriage, they should stop putting the damn thing on the ballot! I guarantee their actions exposure more children to the idea of same-sex marriage than actual LGBT people ever will.

  • amycas

     While Dan Savage at one point had a habit of making transphobic and anti-bisexual remarks, he has sense apologized and afaik changed his views. Let’s not hold things against people after they have apologized and said they were wrong.

  • Michael Connor

     Why did Mr. Brown have to object to everything and be on the opposite side of everything from Dan Savage.  Would it be so terrible to say that the Menendez marriage does grievous harm to marriage, maybe even more so than gay marriage?

    Also, did anyone else notice that at many points Mr. Brown was actually foaming at the mouth a little, and that the cameraman was zooming in gratuitously?

    They got into quite a lot of religious back and forth.  A religious argument can go on forever, just ask Jews. A secular argument goes so much quicker … “scientists trump scholars and empiricism trumps classical logic, done”.

  • amycas

     To be fair, Dan Savage has said some pretty nasty things about different groups in the past. But, afaik he has apologized and changed his views on most of those. I think we should give credit where credit is due.

  • amycas

     Of course, that would require rewriting and reinterpreting much of existing federal and state laws surrounding marriage. I think it’s easier to just keep the word marriage and tell the bigots to stfu.

  • Pisk_A_Dausen

    Some of the comments don’t make much sense …

    “2. Dan Savage believes that bisexuals do not and should not exist.”

    Supporting quote:

    “I’m not saying bi guys are bad people, or they don’t make great
    one-night stands. Bushes, bathhouses, and sleazy gay bars are crawling with bi guys. But if a guy wants more, he’ll have an easier time getting it from another gay man.””

    So … is he saying that bushes, bathhouses and sleazy gay bars are crawling with non-existent entities that can damn well just keep not existing? No wonder the economy is going down, I bet they pay the bartender and bathhouse attendants with non-existent money too. Bastards. :|

  • Edmond

    Speaking as a gay man, we are interested in NO civil unions, NO domestic partnerships, no “alternate” forms of marriage at all.

    There isn’t any purpose in having two identical institutions which both do the very same job, except for segregating the people who use them.  We’re not about to accept a “ghettoized” version of marriage, which does nothing but encourage further division.  We’re citizens, and we’ll use the very same “marriage” that every other citizen uses, thank you very much.

  • Anon

    Children don’t need a mother and a father.

    Children need an adult or adults who love them and care for them (both emotionally and in the sense of providing things like food and shelter) in an appropriate manner.

    Why does the gender of those adults matter? As long as they can love the kid and look after him/her it shouldn’t matter if they are anywhere on the LGBT spectrum.

    To put things in perspective. I grew up without any kind of father figure. There were no men in the household whatsoever until I was an adult.

    I turned out fine (I’m a liberal, bisexual atheist – but that’s fine as far as I’m concerned), I’m a happy, healthy person.

    Would I like to raise any hypothetical offspring with a partner? Yes, if that’s possible. But only because I’m aware of how hard it was for my mother to raise me by herself.

    It’s entirely possible that my hypothetical offspring will be raised in a house with two mothers. I don’t think it’ll hurt them at all.

  • Anna

    We’re on the same page there. I was raised by two lesbian mothers, and I have no complaints. My childhood was very happy. Conservatives are always going on and on about how children need two parents of the opposite sex, but actually all the research shows that 
    children raised in loving, caring, secure homes turn out just fine.

    What tends to hurt children is poverty, instability, familial dysfunction, financial stress, abandonment, and related problems. If anti-gay conservatives really cared about children, they’d lay off the stigma and quit shaming same-sex and single-parent families and instead work to make sure that all families are equally protected.

  • Mike
  • Mike
  • addam andrews

    Brian Brown’s points in a nutshell:
    Marriage is intrinsically man and woman! That has always been, therefore it can never change. Oh but all those other things about marriage, polygamy, property transfer, those can change, but because man and woman hadn’t changed yet, that is the one thing that cant. 
    Allowing blacks and whites to marry was good. But two men!?! Now that just opens the door to pedos and horse rapists. Whats next, man and ghost?
    It is crystal clear that the bible doesn’t support slavery…if after reading the passages that clearly support slavery you read the “interpretations” and historians who say it doesn’t support slavery, but don’t read the ones that say it does because obviously they are wrong.
    I’m not discriminating. If it is about race and marriage then it would be discrimination. If its about religious denominations and marriage, then its discrimination. But if its about gender then its just apples and gay oranges.

  • Rwlawoffice

    I thought it was a good discussion but I expected more from Dan Savage. Frankly I was disappointed in his repeating the same old lines and horrific Biblical scholarship from the homosexual marriage side of the debate. Nor did he effectively dispute the logic that redefining marriage in a way that is based solely on the desires of adults will result in there being no limits on marriage at all.  It will cease to exist as a societal institution. Brown did not adequately expand on this by failing to cite that it is already happening. Cases have been brought here and in Canada to legalize polygamy based upon the arguments used to legalize homosexual marriage.

    Also, Savages idea that he was not mocking those kids religion is disingenuous. A true apology would be for him to admit that was what he did and apologize.  To say he was sorry and then deny it is hollow.

    I will commend Savage for being more polite and courteous than he has been in the past. Most of the other times I have seen his writings or speeches he has just been a rude jerk. He wasn’t this time. 

  • asmallcontempt

    Polygamy, also known as “biblical marriage”? Or was Solomon not in your version of the Bible?

  • Rwlawoffice

     How does that answer the logical argument raised by Brown?  It doesn’t.  it is the same dodge that Savage used in the debate.

    But to answer your question, the fact that Solomon engaged in polygamy does not mean that is the Christian model from the New Testament, nor is it evidence that this was condoned by God.  Look at 1 Timothy 3:2 among other verses. In fact Solomon’s kingdom was taken away from him in part due to his polygamy. Read 1 Kings 11:3-10. This is evidence of the bad Biblical scholarship I was referring to.

  • rustywheeler

    For me, the most salient moment was toward the end when
    Brown flatly rejected the empirical framing, claiming that his argument
    proceeds from ‘First Principles’ (a theological framing) and that no
    evidence could ever change his position.
    This all but guarantees that he will NEVER win in a court of law.

  • rustywheeler

     I think what’s disingenuous about the polygamy canard is that Brown presents it as a bogeyman of the future if SSM is permitted, when the reality is that polygamy is a precursor to the contemporary ideal of marriage that has been well-tested and is now rejected. As with all slippery-slope arguments, it puts the opponent in the position of defending something he’s not even asking for.

  • AxeGrrl

    Brian Brownshirt kept on using the phrase “That certain something that makes a marriage between one man and one woman special.” A je ne sais quois, if you will.

    This confirms exactly what I’ve been saying for years, namely, that every ‘argument’ against same sex marriage distills down to:

    “if we let those people join our country club, how will we be able to feel special/superior?”

    Brown’s comment is probably as close as I’ve heard any of them come to admitting it.

  • AxeGrrl

    Adam, you are aware of the fact that religion doesn’t “own” marriage, yes?

    You’re aware that civil marriage (same sex OR hetero) has absolutely NOTHING to do with religion, yes?

    If you are of those facts, then I have no idea why you posted this comment…..

    If you weren’t aware of these facts, then yay, now you are!

  • AxeGrrl

    I think it’s easier to just keep the word marriage and tell the bigots to stfu.

    Hey, that’s worked here in Canada just fine! :)

  • Rwlawoffice

    Just because society has rejected polygamy in the past, I don’t think it is disingenuous to argue that a re-defnition of marriage will open the door to this again. Particularly in light of it already happening.  There have been lawsuits filed in Canada and the U.S. seeking to overturn the laws against polygamy based upon the same arguments used  for homosexual marriage. 

    The fact that those that want homosexual marriage aren’t calling for polygamy to be adopted does not mean this is not the result of what they are asking for, maybe through the law of unintended consequences.  That is the argument- by redefining marriage to be based entirely upon the desires of adults there is no logical limitation.   It will be the next legal argument regarding marriage.

  • Desiree Bell-Fowlks

    When the issue of polygamy comes up, society will decide on that it.  Marriage equality is a separate issue all together.  You can not deny gays rights because other people may or may not want a polygamist marriage.  If you can not debate on gay marriage alone, you have no rational arguement.

  • Desiree Bell-Fowlks

    Marriage in the U.S. is civil marriage already.  A marriage performed at church means nothing to the government unless the couple gets a license from them first.

  • Rwlawoffice

     The issue of polygamy is already coming up.  People are already pushing it and using the same “marriage equality” argument that is being used by those wanting homosexual marriage.  So you can’t divide the argument.  This is arguing same sex marriage, not moving the ball.  It is the natural extension of redefining marriage to be based upon the desire of adults only in the name of equality.  

  • rustywheeler

     If societies—like American society, for example—have already explored and rejected the polygamy ‘experiment’ without having it prefaced by a widespread acceptance of SSM, you cannot establish a causal connection between SSM and polygamy. It is not a “natural extension” of anything, and we CAN and HAVE divided the argument, because it is, in fact, a separate argument. Correlation is not causation, and just because polygamists perceive an opening in the wake of SSMs success, and the issue is “already coming up” does not mean would-be polygamists won’t still have to justify polygamy on its merits. Which is pretty much what Dan Savage is saying.

    Again: the slippery-slope fallacy creates the impression that future ‘mistakes’ will be unpreventable.

  • Rwlawoffice

     This is more than the polygamists simply seeing an opening, it is using the fundamental change in the definition of marriage to give support to their arguments. The legal precedents that are being used to legalize same sex marriage are the very ones that are being used to support the legalization of polygamy. The fact that you see no harm in same sex marriage but you may see a harm in polygamy and thus would require polygamists to prove its merits, the merits really don’t matter.
    The redefinition is enough because anything else would not be equality. Savage tried to argue that polygamy was bad in his eyes, but same sex marriage was not.  The polygamist would use the same argument he is using against him- it doesn’t effect you so why would you care, it doesn’t weaken your marriage so what, there is no evidence that children are harmed so why can’t I have two wives or husbands.

    It is not just me saying this.  here is a great article explaining the connection:

  • rustywheeler

    OH. A “great” WorldNet Daily article raising the specter of Sharia law.
    This thread is over.

  • Rwlawoffice

    So this is your response to an article that mentions sharia law once in an entire article on the connection between the arguments of the homosexual marriage advocates and those that are seeking legal approval of polygamy. Did you even read it? If you did you would notice the thrust of the article is not sharia law but the parallels in the arguments.

  • captainthecapn

    His “apology” towards trans*people consisted of saying “Don’t get mad at me! Words change, and I didn’t know better! I’m not transphobic- look at all the money I throw at them!” It was hardly an apology and came off more as the “I’m not a (certain kind of bigot)! I have (marginalized group of people) friends!” argument.

    He’s NEVER apologized for his biphobic remarks; in fact- he’s blamed biphobia on bisexuals. 

    He’s also never apologized for his body shaming remarks, racist remarks, and misogynistic remarks. I’d have no qualms with Dan Savage if he were an actual decent human being.

  • captainthecapn

    Once again, his “apology” was hardly an apology. 

    You’re erasing millions of people who DON’T think Dan Savage’s campaign is worth a shit when you try to place it all on me. The overwhelming majority of people taking part in the campaign are white, gay men, and they’re mostly addressing other white, gay men. 

    This isn’t just Dan Savage’s fault, mind you- it’s a problem with the entire LGBTQ community itself. The entire community is focused on gay, white, cis-men.

  • Mitch Williams

    I call horseshit on Rwlawoffice.  or is that trollshit.  WND is not a news source in any sense of the word “news.”  If WND is your idea of valid information, then you have disqualified yourself as a reasonable person.  QED.

  • Stev84

    The issue isn’t even “coming up”. As always, the troll is lying again. Polygamists don’t actually want to legally marry several people. They just want to be left alone and not be criminalized for living with several partners. And neither should they be as long as they don’t have minor wives and don’t coerce anyone.

  • Artoo45

    Well, I stand corrected that he’s said lots of crappy things to go along with lots of the good things he’s done. Would you like to cast the first stone?

  • Desiree Bell-Fowlks

    You are wrong.  The issue of polygamy has already came up in the past.  Whether SSM is legalized or not, polygamy will still be an issue.  So it is a separate issue in it’s self.  Unless you can show any rational reason to deny gays the right to marry, you have no argument. 

  • Desiree Bell-Fowlks

    I can make the arguement that straight marriage leads to child molestation since straight men are more likely than gay men to molest children.  One issue not relating to another.

  • Gus Snarp

    There’s a problem with that in that most states still require some kind of ceremony to solemnize the marriage, performed by a government approved person who can sign the marriage certificate. That in itself is an inappropriate entanglement of government and religion, putting the state in the business of determining which religious officials are certified to sign marriage certificates.

    Meanwhile, in states with fairly stringent requirements for who can solemnize marriages, like my state, the vast majority are religious. You can find judges, justices of the peace, and mayors (that’s pretty much the secular list here), but there are far more priests and preachers available, and the secular officiants are often quite busy. That’s a problem too. It’s easier in states where all you need is a notary public, but there’s still this odd two step process.

    To me the solution is a complete decoupling. Already to get married I had to go to a government office with my fiance and fill out a rather in depth form, listing our parents, where they were born and married, where we were born, etc. All, I assume, to prevent fraud and multiple marriages. We had to fill this out and sign it in the presence of the government employee at the office. I assume the office may have checked the information on the form for accuracy, but maybe not, maybe they don’t really bother with that. It seems to me that right there on the spot, at that moment, we should have been legally married. Or alternatively, if they actually check the form, then they should sign and return the marriage certificate to us and upon receipt, we would be married, end of story. No need for a ceremony or an external official to sign the form.

    Then, if you want a religious ceremony and wedding, that’s entirely between you and your church, there’s no pressure to have one just because you have to have something, and the government is no longer in the business of deciding who’s  a “real” religious official entitled to perform marriages. And since there’s no need for the ceremony at all, we avoid all those discrimination situations that the NOM representative thinks are restricting people’s religious beliefs. Church doesn’t want to marry you? Sorry, maybe you should find a church that doesn’t hate you, but your rights aren’t infringed because that church ceremony has nothing to do with you being married. Justice of the peace doesn’t want to do his fucking job and marry someone? Who cares, it’s not his job anymore anyway, they were already married when the clerk signed the form. Clerk doesn’t want to sign the form? They’re a fucking clerk, they’re fired.

  • Gus Snarp

    I’ve become convinced that debates like this are pointless. Structured debate can be interesting for honing one’s skills in rhetoric and logic, but they are at best competitions between debaters, they don’t settle issues or solve problems or convince anyone. As such, public debates like this are a colossal waste of time if you want them to be anything other than entertainment.

    Dawkins is right on with his arguments as to why he won’t debate creationists, and those arguments extend to all public debates.

    What we saw here was a perfect example. Two people, both actually performing pretty well, but both saying the same sources say opposite things. One of them is wrong and one is right on whether the evidence is true or not, but watching the debate doesn’t tell you that, so you just walk away believing that the guy who agrees with you was the one telling the truth. I, for example, am quite convinced that Savage was the one with the facts on his side, and Brown was lying. Those who disagree with me likely have the opposite impression. Meanwhile, on the issues where there actually is a difference of opinion or interpretation, rather than a difference on fact, no progress was made. Brown couldn’t even acknowledge the main point in Savage’s original speech: that people pick and choose what they want from the Bible base on their own values, they don’t define their values strictly by the Bible. Brown argues that the picking and choosing happened centuries ago by learned Biblical scholars, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was picking and choosing. Those men took a book that had defined the rules for Jews for centuries and decided some of those rules were meaningful and permanent and some could be ignored and they did this based on their own values and convenience. It doesn’t matter how sound their arguments were, they tossed out clear and definite commands from the Bible and are trying to force public policy to follow their interpretations of much less clear instructions from the same book.

    It comes down to this, to extend on Dawkins thoughts on debates: Debates can not and should not be used to determine facts. Facts are what they are. The truth of the factual claims must be established and agreed upon before you can even start a debate. Debate is about opinions and interpretations, it is not the time to raise factual claims and dispute them. That’s done through the peer review process of science, historical research, and evidence gathering and evaluation. You cannot skip this step and proceed to a debate on what is the right and wrong implication of the evidence if your’e still both claiming the evidence says completely different things. 

  • rustywheeler

     Thank you; I had the same thought, and was going to say so until the WND link appeared. (LOL)

  • captainthecapn

    This type of backhanded comment is exactly the reason why people like Dan Savage get away with making asinine comments. Thanks for contributing to a culture of bigotry.

  • Scott Rose

    At this link you can read the article:

    NOM’s Brian Brown is Lying about the Anti-Gay Regnerus Study 

  • snoozn

    I agree that this would be a better system overall and prevent a lot of the religious arguments against marriage equality. When I had a baby in Germany one of the hospital forms asked for the dates of my “civil marriage” and my “church marriage.” I was married in a church, so I only put down that date. The nurse was very unhappy with this (seeming to think that I wasn’t really married) and a German friend later explained that in Germany the two types of marriage are completely separate (and usually not on the same date). Having a civil marriage with no church marriage is fairly common, but the opposite would be quite odd, as the couple would not be legally married despite the church wedding. As soon as I heard this I understood the nurse’s confusion and also thought it was a great idea!

  • amycas

    That’s why I said “afaik.” I was under the assumption that he had apologized for those remarks (at least the ones I heard of) and had mostly changed his stances on those issues. If I’m wrong then show me. I like some of the things Dan Savage has done, but nobody is perfect, and I don’t expect them to be. There’s no need to yell* at me.

    *I typically read uppercased lettering and/or exclamation points as yelling. 

  • B. Pecker

    Rwlawoffice-Please remove you head from your ass before you post again.  The “no limits on marriage at all” is the song of the truly desperate homophobes.

  • Gus Snarp

    That’s actually where I got the idea!

    Well, not from your hospital experience, which I obviously didn’t know about, but from the German system.

  • Don Gwinn

    At 26:20, I was struck by Brown’s assertion that Savage had been arrogant to say that “no one keeps these Old Testament laws anymore” when “many people DO! . . . . including Orthodox Jews . . . .”  He’s claiming that Orthodox Jews, along with many other people, keep the laws given to the Jews in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

    So Brown asserts that Orthodox Jews make animal sacrifices to Jehovah?  That they stone women to death if they’re not virgins on their wedding nights, and they kill disobedient sons at their city gates?  
    I doubt that.  If they did, they’d be monsters and belong in prison . . . . but I doubt it.  It’s hard to tell whether he just didn’t think about what those laws are–he mentioned not eating shellfish–or whether he was lying, but either way, it was a ridiculous thing to say.

    At 39:30, I also didn’t think much of his attempt to shift off of blaming gays into blaming people who adopt children–when the talked about how “marriage is what connects that child to his real father and his real mother.”  My sons have a mother and a father in our home–we have one of those “real” marriages–but 2/3 of them are adopted.  So somehow, I’m a 67% bad father, but I’ve managed to be connected to 33% of my children.  The other two I’ve denied a meaningful connection to their mother (who abused and neglected them nearly to death) and their father (whoever and wherever he is; nobody knows.)

    Brown would, I’m sure, protest that he wasn’t talking about *us*!  He was talking about gay parents who adopt, not adoptive homes with two opposite-sex parents.  But that’s exactly the problem; his attack on adoption was only an attempt to force his attack on gays to move forward again after Savage stopped it in its tracks, and there was no actual differentiation between various sorts of adoptive parents–except his intention, which was bigoted.

  • Artoo45

    You’re welcome. Enjoy the view from your high horse.