Brian Brown vs. Dan Savage: The Transcript

You’ve heard of the debate. (Um .. but in case you haven’t: on the left, sporting a brown suit, is president of the National Organization for Marriage Brian Brown, who is very much against gay marriage; on the right, sporting impressive biceps, is Dan Savage (It Gets Better , Savage Love, Savage U.), an advocate for gay marriage and people being sane generally. Between them is Mark Oppenheimer, who writes about religion for The New York Times. It’s Aug. 15; they’re in Dan’s dining room; they’d just had dinner; following dinner was their much-anticipated “Dinner Table Debate.”)

You’ve watched the video of the debate (or can, if you haven’t, below).

Now you can also read the debate, thanks to straight Christian ally of LGBTQ people Jessica Wode. Ms. Wode, who runs the website whenicameout.com, tirelessly transcribed the entire debate; she sent it to me; I asked Dan if it was cool with him if I ran it; he said, “Sure; it must be massive”; he was right. The longest blog post in the history of the world begins after the video. (If you’d like to read a piece I recently wrote for Dan’s blog, see 16, Christian, and surrounded by bigots.)

OPPENHEIMER: Okay, so this is the dinner table debate. I’m Mark Oppenheimer, I write for the New York Times. I write the Beliefs column. Who are you?

SAVAGE: I’m Dan Savage. I write Savage Love. And run my mouth. And run myself into ditches sometimes running my mouth.

OPPENHEIMER: Who are you?

BROWN: Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.

OPPENHEIMER: OK, so just to be clear of why we’re here. Back in April, April 2012—today’s August 15—Dan spoke at a high school—at the National High School Journalism Convention and he said—and there’s some ellipses in here—I’ve cut out some things—but I think I’ve been true to the spirit of it. He said, “We can learn to ignore the bull—” the original word was longer—“we can learn to ignore the bull in the Bible about gay people the same way we learned to ignore the bull in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation—” etc. “We can ignore what the Bible says about slaves because the Bible got slavery wrong.” That was a piece of what you said back in April. And some students walked out. The majority stayed, but a—you know, a dozen or two, it seemed, walked out. I wasn’t there; Brian wasn’t there, but some walked out. And then in the days following, many critics attacked Dan for being—for having attacked the Bible and attacked Christianity in the presence of these high school kids. About a week later, Brian Brown wrote—was it on your blog? ’Cause it was too long for a tweet.

BROWN: Yeah, it was on the blog and I think also in an e-mail.

OPPENHEIMER: It was on the blog and—an e-mail to whom?

BROWN: To all of our supporters.

OPPENHEIMER: To all your supporters.

SAVAGE: But not to me.

OPPENHEIMER: But not to Dan.

BROWN: Well, I don’t know that I had your e-mail address—

OPPENHEIMER: Hey, hey, hey.

BROWN: But I do now! [laughs]

OPPENHEIMER: He said, “Let me lay down a public challenge to Dan Savage right here and now. You want to savage the Bible? Christian morality? Traditional marriage? Pope Benedict? I’m here—you name the time and place and let’s see what a big man you are with someone who can talk back.” Ellipses. “You will find out how venal and ridiculous your views of these things are if you dare to accept a challenge.” Is that about right? [Brown nods.] OK. And then later in May—again, we’re talking about three, four months ago—in your podcast, Dan, you said, “I accept that challenge, and I’ll—” you said, “Tell me where and when,” you said, “My living room.” Although we’re actually in your dining room.

SAVAGE: Did I say living room?

OPPENHEIMER: Where—what did you say? Dining room? Dining room.

SAVAGE: You said name the time and place; I said my house after dinner.

OPPENHEIMER: So—and you kindly invited me as a veteran of these—of these culture wars to moderate and I was grateful that Brian was willing to have me as a moderator. And your neighbor John Colwell, a fine Seattle-area chef to his four children, cooked us some fine meals. And so what we’re going to do is we’re going to take about an hour, and I said that since you [gesturing to Savage] were the one—you [gesturing to Brown] challenged him to say those things, to be a big man and say those things in your presence—I’m going to let him say those things; based on that challenge, he gets to go first, and we’re going to—a dozen to fifteen minutes or so—we’re not going to be fascistic about this—to reiterate what it is you felt, that you were trying to communicate, about—about the Bible, and about Christianity, or religion more broadly, and gay people. And then you’re [gesturing to Brown] going to get to reply at about the same length, and I’ll be the judge of that, and then we’re going to have a conversation.

SAVAGE: So you’re gonna—you’ll cut me off when I’m done?

OPPENHEIMER: I will cut you off. Exactly.

SAVAGE: Oh, OK, so I don’t need to set a timer?

OPPENHEIMER: Don’t worry. When you’re being a motormouth, I’m going to cut you off.

SAVAGE: I’m a motormouth all the time!

OPPENHEIMER: All right, I’m going to cut you off. So Dan Savage, take it away.

SAVAGE: OK, you suggested that the title for the debate should be “Christianity Is Bad for LGBT Americans.”

OPPENHEIMER: I said if we were doing high school debate, as I once participated and coached, the topic would be something like, “Be It Resolved: Christianity Is Bad for LGBTQ Americans.”

SAVAGE: And my response to that is Christianity doesn’t have to be bad for LGBTQ Americans. And I think that frame implicitly accepts the premise—one of, I think, the two big lies, the two big false dichotomies promoted by your side [gesturing to Brown] of this debate—and that is that there are gay people and there are Christians and they’re at war. When the actual fact is that the overwhelming majority of LGBTQ Americans are Christians or, like me, were raised in Christian families and come from Christian faith backgrounds. You know, Eugene Robinson and Father Michael Judge spring immediately to mind as examples of openly gay American Christians. The other big false lie, I think, false dichotomy that your side promotes is that you’re either a supporter of traditional marriage, a “savager” of traditional marriage, or a supporter of marriage equality, when you can actually, I think, be a supporter of both. I am a rabid supporter of my siblings’ traditional marriages, of my family’s, of my friends’, my neighbors’ traditional marriages, John Colwell and his wife, Michi Cass, who made dinner tonight, I support their traditional marriage. It’s not an either/or choice.

We’re here because of the Bible and my big mouth and that speech to a high school journalism conference where I was invited to give the same speech I give at colleges and have given frequently and they told me to pull no punches and I didn’t have to moderate my usual tone, and they certainly knew who I was when they invited me. There were 3,000 kids at that speech, 3,000 high school students, who had been warned that I shoot my mouth off and sometimes touch on taboo topics. Twenty-four walked out, of 3,000. The three thous—2,900-plus who stayed, the overwhelming majority, were Christian. There wasn’t 3,000 Zoroastrian American high school students who stayed for the rest of the speech.

It was wrong of me in that—those remarks to describe the walkout, the reaction, as “pansy-ass.” That was name-calling and I apologized for that. And it was wrong of me. I also, if you watch the whole tape that was put up, at the end of that tape, I apologize if I may have offended the kids who left and invite them back in for the rest of the speech. I did say that there is bullshit in the Bible, and for that I have not apologized and I will not apologize. Bullshit means untrue words or ideas. There’s this Mark Twain quote that I love, that I’m gonna read. “It is full of interest,” he says of the Bible. “It has noble poetry in it, some clever fables, some blood-drenched history, some good morals, a wealth of obscenity and upwards of a thousand lies.” Which is 19th-century Mark Twain saying, “bullshit in the Bible.”

Was I bullying? The Economist says no: “Bullying is a strong picking on the weak, not the other way around. The other way around is satire.” I won’t read that whole quote, but they go on to unpack why I wasn’t bullying, and I don’t believe I was bullying either.

Brian challenged us to a debate about the Bible, and I’d like to address some things in the Bible if that’s OK with Mr. Moderator.

OPPENHEIMER: It is OK.

SAVAGE: You know, I’m from a Catholic background. My dad was a Catholic deacon; my mom was a Catholic lay minister. I attended a seminary for a couple of years—a preparatory seminary, a high school seminary. I’m not unfamiliar with the Christian Bible or the Christian tradition or the Catholic tradition. There are two—you know, “In the beginning,” let’s begin with the beginning of the Bible—you get two conflicting, contradictory creation narratives right off the bat. Chapter 1 of Genesis and chapter 2 of Genesis, most Biblical scholars believe are two different creation narratives that have just been piggybacked together, or set side-by-side. Most people read them uncritically and don’t notice that everything’s created in a different order and for a different reason. At the end of the first creation narrative in Genesis, God creates “humankind.” Not Adam and Eve, but humanity itself created “in our image, male and female, He created them”—plural. And then chapter 2 of Genesis, a couple of verses in, it all starts over again. We have another creation narrative. And everything’s created for a different reason, in a different order. Man is created first and placed in what must have been a very depressing garden because God had not yet created plants. He places man in a garden and then creates plants. And then God says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” And His response to that dilemma for man is not to create woman—not yet—but is to create animals. And He brings the animals to Adam; he names them. Adam has some agency and some choice here; he’s allowed to express a preference. And he rejects all of these animals as potential partners, so God creates Eve.

And why does He create Eve? To create a co-parent for Adam? No, to create a partner for Adam, because “it is not good for man to be alone.” The message of Eve, before they get down to the being fruitful and multiplying, is the original purpose of Eve’s is companionship, because it is not good for man to be alone. The contradictions—and of course, both of these stories, these creation narratives, can’t be literally true. I think if you’re a Christian, who believes that the Bible is literally true, the inerrant word of God, here is God telling you in the first three pages that you can’t take what comes next literally because there’s a contradiction here, and a massive one. That was my father’s interpretation of the first two books of Genesis, is God opens with the, “Here are two beautiful stories, you have to work out the meanings; obviously you can’t take the Bible literally word for word.”

The contradictions continue. “Thou shalt not kill”—the Israelites spend a whole lot of time killing people on God’s orders. Jesus says the old law must be followed; Paul contradicts him.

The one place, and this is what I said that was so controversial at the journalism conference, where there isn’t really a conflict in the Bible is slavery. Leviticus 25:44-46: “As for your male and female slaves, whom you may have: You may buy male and female slaves from the nations that are around you. They may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever.” In the New Testament, Timothy: “Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed. If anyone teaches otherwise, and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with Godliness, he is puffed up with conceit; he knows nothing.” This is a verse that was thrown in the face of American abolitionists, before and during the second—or the Civil War. The Reverend Richard Fuller, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, in the years before the Civil War was able to say, with a straight face and because it’s true, “What God has sanctioned in the Old Testament and permitted in the New cannot be the sin.”

Like I said to the high school journalism students, Sam Harris in his book, Letter to a Christian Nation, says the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong, and that was slavery. And my—[?]—my point was that the Bible, if it got something as easy and obvious as slavery wrong, what are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? I put those odds at about 100 percent. Pat Robertson was recently asked about this. I don’t know if you saw that clip? [Brown shakes his head.] On the—his show, he was asked if America was founded as a Christian nation, why did we allow slavery? And he answer was, “Like it or not, if you read the Bible, in the Old Testament slavery is permitted.” That’s a half-truth; in both Testaments slavery is permitted and sanctioned. But then Robertson said something uncharacteristically profound: “We have moved in our conception of the value of human beings until we realized that slavery was terribly wrong.” And so what he’s saying there is not just that we realized slavery was wrong; also we realized the Bible was wrong about slavery.

I don’t think LGBT Americans are asking American Christians to do anything that you haven’t already done. Move in your conception of the value of human beings. In this instance, human beings who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered. Many American Christians—we know you can move, because many American Christians have already moved in their value of the conception of human beings, because many American Christians, including a majority of American Catholics, support marriage rights for—support same-sex—rights for same-sex couples. Not a majority for marriage, but a majority for either civil unions, all incidents of marriage, and/or marriage. I don’t think support for our full civil equality requires fundamental—or evangelical Christians, or Catholics, or anyone else to change their theology, to change their perspective on the morality of what it means to be gay. Just to sign off on our full civil equality. Tolerate doesn’t mean celebrate; tolerate means endure or put up with. And I think that Christians—conservative Christians—can learn to tolerate legal civil same-sex marriage the way they’ve learned to tolerate legal divorce, which violates Catholic teaching, interfaith marriages, and non-religious marriages.

You know, John Shore, who’s a Christian blogger, a pro-gay-marriage Christian blogger and author, he says that the Bible has no place in a conversation about the legality or illegality of gay marriage. Illegal is not a religious term. In a pluralistic society, you know, people are free to live their religious values. And I believe people are free to proselytize. If somebody wants to talk me out of my marriage to Terry, I think that they should knock themselves out. I don’t think that they have a right to use the law to do that, to deny us equal protection under the law because of their interpretation of the Bible, or their interpretation of God’s will. Imposing your interpretation of the Bible on someone else is not religious freedom, as you’ve attempted to redefine it. That is religious tyranny.

OPPENHEIMER: Brian? You wanna—?

BROWN: He left some time on the table!

OPPENHEIMER: He left some time on the table.

SAVAGE: Well, I actually have more. I’m happy to run my mouth

OPPENHEIMER: He took about—that’s about 10 minutes. He took about 10 minutes, but do you wanna—he’s throwing it to you, so do you wanna—

SAVAGE: Actually, I have one more Bible thing. Can it throw it out there?

BROWN: Yeah, go ahead.

OPPENHEIMER: Yeah, go for it. Go for it. We’re all friends here.

SAVAGE: You know, returning to the Old Testament and the Ten Commandments, there’s stuff in there for straight people: “Thou shalt not commit adultery”—thou shalt not be Newt Gingrich, in the new modern American translation, it could be. But there’s also “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” And I do feel that NOM and other—

OPPENHEIMER: NOM being the National Organization for Marriage.

SAVAGE: For marriage—is in the bearing false witness business, and routinely bears false witness against your lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered neighbors. The conflation of homosexuality with pedophilia, which organizations like the Family Research Council have done explicitly. NOM tends to do it through linking and through surrogates; most recently Reverend Willy Owens, a “NOM religious liaison,” condemned gay marriage and suggested that support for gay marriage is the same as condoning child molesta—pardon me, child molestation.

But the one that really galls me personally as a parent is the Regnerus study that you guys are promoting. That the Witherspoon Institute that is linked to NOM funded at the tune—you know, for three-quarters of a million dollars. The claim is that this compared the outcome for children who were raised by same-sex couples and children who were raised by “traditional” marriage couples. And that is—that is a lie. The study has been widely criticized. There were 248 kids in the study who were classed as having gay or lesbian parents. Only 2 of those 248 kids were raised by a same-sex couple from birth. That study’s now been audited by the journal that published it. The professor who was—who conducted the audit has praised Mark Regnerus in the past, written letters of recommendation for Mark Regnerus, he’s not an enemy of Mark Regnerus, and he concluded that the paper should never have been published because the study did not examine children of gay and lesbian parents. And what happens is, I think what NOM is doing, is very much like the Tobacco Institute in the ’70s and ’80s. Studies of same-sex parents have shown that our kids are as happy, healthy, well-adjusted, as other people’s children, and so now, through the Witherspoon Institute, they’re beginning to fund their own studies and getting the results that you want to get. And if that requires cooking the books and distorting and potentially, in the process, destroying this young scholar’s career, because he’s now being investigated by the University of Texas for academic—I forget the word—misconduct, and could get bounced. You know, here’s a book from the American Psychological Association that runs through all the research into families headed by same-sex couples and concludes that our kids are fine. And there’s this mountain of evidence. You weren’t able to produce any evidence at the Prop 8 trials in California proving that our kids were in any way suffering or harmed by having same-sex parents.

And this bearing of false witness against same-sex families is potentially very dangerous, particularly the linking homosexual with pedophilia. Forty percent of homeless teenagers are LGBT kids who were thrown out of the house after they were outed or came out to their families. I’ve heard from scores of kids whose parents threw them out after they found out that they were gay because they were worried that their gay children would—were pedophiles who would molest their younger siblings. And that is a bit of poison that NOM and other organizations continue to inject into the culture. And real LGBT kids suffer and die as a result of that poison being injected into the culture.

You know, I’m old enough—do I have another minute?

OPPENHEIMER: You have two minutes.

SAVAGE: I have two minutes. I am old enough to remember—’cause I am 47 years old—Falwell and Anita Bryant back in the day and the argument—that my father believed and repeated to me when I was a child—was that gay people were a threat to the family because we didn’t marry. Because we didn’t have children. Because we weren’t invested in future generations. Because we lived a purely hedonistic lifestyle that was all about the next orgasm, and wasn’t about love and commitment and family. And that was the slam from Falwell et al was we were a threat to the family because we didn’t marry, because we didn’t have children. Now somehow the goalposts are in an entirely—not just moved, they’re in a new stadium, where we are a threat to the family because we marry. We are a threat to the family because we have children. And it can’t be both. We can’t be a threat to the family when we model a life without commitment, a life without children, a life without an investment in the future and a threat to the family when we marry, or we have children, or we do commit to each other and commit to a future and commit to raising our children responsibly.

[Pause; Oppenheimer gestures to Brown]

BROWN: My turn.

OPPENHEIMER: Your turn.

BROWN: Well, I don’t know where to begin. I will begin by thanking Dan for opening up his house and having me. It was a great dinner earlier, and it was kind of you to have me in your home. You said you don’t regularly do this in your home; I can’t imagine—I can’t imagine why not! Actually, I can, I mean, it’s—obviously having cameras here and everything else, so thank you, you’ve been a very gracious host.

SAVAGE: And we appreciate you accepting the invitation.

BROWN: Yeah, I was glad to do it. As I said, you know, this is an argument about public policy and about ideas. This is not an argument about us trying to hurt individuals, and hopefully, on your side, folks not trying to hurt us. Unfortunately, often that it what it has descended to today. We know there was a shooting at the Family Research Council. In my view, attempts to label the Family Research Council, as I think Dan just laid out, maybe he didn’t say the words, but to say that it’s a hate group, or hateful, because it has a different opinion about homosexuality and marriage, I think is profoundly wrong. I think it eats at the core of our civil discourse, and I think much of what Dan has just said follows along these same lines. I don’t know where to begin because we’re all entitled to our own opinions but we’re not entitled to our own facts. And factually, you’re simply wrong on a number of levels. Number one, when you talk about the Regnerus study, NOM did not fund the Regnerus study at all. Because there are board members of NOM and the Witherspoon Institute—that’s often the case. I mean, if you looked at how many Ford Foundation grants have been given out and look at the members of the Ford Foundation board and then look at other boards, to then make this giant quantum leap to say, “Any other board that the Ford Foundation board members were a part of—they’re responsible for the study” and somehow this means that there’s something untoward happening is simply false, and people know that.

As far as Regnerus’ study, understand this: Regnerus’ study is the largest study of its kind ever done. The other studies that you point to here [gesturing to APA book] are snowball studies. What they attempt to do is to find homosexual parents, have the homosexual parents talk about the effects on their children, and they have homosexual parents find other parents that they know. This is not exactly a scientific way to conduct a study. And completely against what you said about the Sherkat audit, although Sherkat himself has—does not have kind things to say about the study, he does say that the proper procedures were generally followed. And they were. And you ask, “Why aren’t there more studies like this?” Well, take a look around. What folks are doing is trying to destroy Mark Regnerus because he had the audacity to do a study in which he challenged conventional thinking. He obeyed proper scientific method, and he came to a different conclusion. And instead of then arguing about the conclusion, we actually have scholars trying to get him fired. Everyone knows that it’s the case that if you stick your head up in academia or in much of elite culture and say, “I believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” or have evidence that shows that children do best with both mothers and fathers, that you are going to face a massive amount of pushback. You are going to be targeted.

And again, attempts to say that our beliefs are the equivalent of hatred, or bigotry, or that we are poisoning people, or we are trying to hurt people, or we are trying to kill people, as some have said on the other side—I receive e-mails from folks all of the time—that is unacceptable in our civil discourse. We have never said anything like that. I have compl—always, and NOM has always, condemned violence or hatred of any kind toward anyone on our side or your side. It has no place in this debate.

But that really isn’t the question, is it? The question is: Is this idea that cultures throughout human history have shared, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that this is a unique and special union—and it isn’t only religion that states this, because marriage is pre-political; it isn’t the state that creates marriage, and different religions with very different ideas about public morality all share this understanding of marriage—is this very idea, that there’s something unique about men and women, there’s something unique about marriage between men and women, that this union is important for society, important for children, is in the best interest of children—is simply saying that now somehow hateful? Somehow bigoted? Somehow harmful? The fact that some people don’t want to hear that—and again, I’m in your home right now, I’m stating my beliefs, I’m not doing it in a way where I’m attempting to attack you—I’m saying what—what—as far—what the truth is. And what—what our faith has taught, other faiths have taught, and what frankly people of no faith can come to through natural law—the simple idea that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

And you say, well, we don’t want to change your institution; we want to be a part of it. There are two ideas on the table, and this debate, and what happened to these—these kids in this assembly, and other, other attempts to label our side as hateful and bigoted, make clear the stakes. On one side is the idea that there’s something unique and special about men and women coming together in marriage, and no other union, of whatever kind, is—is the same thing as marriage. There’s something special and unique about marriage that’s in the best interest of society and culture. And there’s the second idea, and I hear it in what you were just saying, but it comes out more clearly in debates, when I ask point blank the question to folks I’m debating with, and the idea is: There is nothing morally different between men and men, women and women, and men and women united together. They’re all the same. And folks that think that there is—folks like me, people, you know, largely of religious faith communities that because of their faith believe that this is the case, or people, again, who maybe not because of religion believe this is the case—that we’re the equivalent of racists and bigots. This comes up time and time again, and frankly I think it’s wrong. I don’t think it’s based on the facts of the argument. I don’t think that it furthers the argument, and I think that it does create this impasse.

As far as the attack on Christianity, come on, I mean, anyone who saw that knows that that was completely unacceptable, Dan. I mean, saying that someone’s religion is BS when my understanding is that you were not brought into that assembly to talk about that—that’s, in fact, what the folks who—who brought you on, when they distanced themselves from your comments, that’s what they say. You were not brought in to talk about the Bible and Christianity, but you did so on your own. To have a bunch of high school students—to attack their religious beliefs, even if you don’t disagree with them, it’s not appropriate. It doesn’t show respect. Again, I am a Catholic. I have evangelical friends; I have Orthodox Jewish friends. Your attack on the ritual code of the Old Testament, for example: I don’t adhere to that—I have a particular view of the history of the church—but I have respect for my Orthodox Jewish friends who do. You say whole—point blank, “No one accepts this anymore.” Well, there are plenty of Orthodox Jews that do accept—when you talk about not eating shellfish or whatever else.

As far as slavery goes, again, you’re just completely wrong. Your interpretation of Scripture, Sam Harris’ interpretation of Scripture, is completely wrong. If you look at the societies and cultures in which Jews lived, if you look at the Code of Hammurabi, for example, you see that a master over a slave had total control of life and death, could do anything at will, essentially. That is not the case in Judaism. Is a certain form of slavery accepted? Yes. But if you move to the New Testament, this is much more like indentured servitude. People would sell themselves essentially into a period of indentured servitude, usually between six and seven years, and then they could be released, and they could get money for that. Now this wasn’t always the case; this is very complicated. David Brion Davis has written an excellent book. There are a number of historians that are secular historians that have written excellent books on the problem of slavery in Western culture. But to say point blank that the Bible is a pro-slavery document is just point blank false. What you’re essentially saying is that your interpretation trumps that of Frederick Douglass, of Harriet Beecher Stowe, of William Wilberforce, of William Lloyd Garrison, and all of the abolitionists, who pointed directly to the—the verse—the, um, book of the Bible that you attempt to justify this notion that the Bible is pro-slavery, Philemon. They all pointed to Philemon to say look what Paul does. Paul tells Onesimus—he tells Philemon to take Onesimus back, not as a slave, but as a brother, a dear brother in Christ.

And this gets to the heart of what Christianity is to the world, and Christianity’s view on traditional sexual morality. Christianity is, if anything, radical. It’s radical in its view of human dignity, of the human dignity of each and every one of us. The reason I’m here is because I believe in your human dignity [pointing to Savage], I believe in your human dignity [pointing to Oppenheimer]. I’m willing to come and argue with you because of my respect for you. This notion of equality before God, of us all having this dignity before God, is key to the Scriptures. And deep-seated within the New Testament, which was to come out in Eugene the Fourth’s condemnation of the slave trade, in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church condemnation of slavery, in the work of the abolitionists and William Wilberforce, is this radical dignity of human beings.

But this call that we have to live out the Gospel message of love, of creating a civilization of love, is not at odds with my—our idea of marriage. Scripture begins with a marriage, its middle point is the wedding feast at Cana, and it ends with the wedding feast of the Lamb. The notion of the uniqueness of men and women is not some side thing in Scripture; it’s a key part of our view of humanity, that there are two halves of humanity, male and female, and that we complement each other, and that complementary bears fruit in children—can bear fruit in children, and that, even without children, that the unitive nature of marriage brings together the two great halves of humanity. This is not something that we will ever discard. We will always have this view. There will be Christians who always stand up for this view. And they don’t do so, in my view, overwhelmingly because of any animus or hatred. They do so because they believe that this is true. They believe that faith and reason are not at odds here, that Scripture reinforces something that’s true about human nature, and good, and beautiful. What I see attempted here, and sometimes in other things that you’ve said that are—that I think are much more colorful that what you just laid out, is the notion that we are deserving, that those of us who—who know that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, that we’re deserving of treatment less than others because we are bigots and we deserve what we get. And I don’t think that’s true, and I don’t think that helps further the debate, and I think that the attack on Christianity, as I said earlier—I don’t think that people look at that and say, “Hey, you know, Dan Savage, has a point.” If anything, it makes people say, “Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this? This doesn’t further your argument.” So I don’t think it furthers your argument, and I think it’s wrong. How much time do I have left?

OPPENHEIMER: You have, uh, about two minutes left.

BROWN: Yeah. The other—the other point that I think needs to be made is that this is not just Catholics, this is not just evangelical Christians, this is not just Orthodox Jews. That people outside of faith traditions, as I said earlier, still understand the uniqueness of marriage, and that if you point to me people who are saying—and I’ve done this before—people that are using reason to get to ends of attacking gays, I will be the first to condemn it. I’ve done it time and time again. But I don’t accept—no, I don’t accept that someone having a differing opinion, a different analysis of science, what you just laid out about Mark Regnerus, that somehow because his science doesn’t agree with the argument that you’ve put forward, that the APA has put forward, that somehow there’s a right to demonize or attack him. I think it’s wrong, and, you know, I think that if we want to have a debate, let’s do it civilly, let’s do it based upon, as I say, looking at the best Scripture scholars. Sam Harris is not one of the best Scripture scholars; he’s just wrong. It doesn’t even pay attention to the abolitionists’ argument; you just act like they don’t exist. It’s wrong. So let’s have a civil debate. Let’s base it about facts, not innuendo, and if we do that, I’m firmly convinced that—that folks will not somehow move to supporting same-sex marriage. I think that what you’ll see is that people will understand that folks like me have a reasoned point, and that reason and faith are not necessarily at odds.

SAVAGE: May I respond?

OPPENHEIMER: Five minutes?

SAVAGE: Um, you know, people can conclude that same-sex marriage is wrong, and they’re free not to enter into same-sex marriages. If you conclude that same-sex marriage is a wrong because of your faith, you don’t have a right to impose that limitation on other people who happen to disagree with you. And there are other Christian—Christians, Christian denominations, Christian pastors who would like to legally marry people as your church can legally marry people, and it’s a denial of their religious freedom to deny them that right.

Mark Regnerus is not in trouble for his conclusion; he’s in trouble for his methodology, which was cooked. And he is in trouble because his study didn’t study what he claimed it studied, not because of the findings. If somebody rolled out a rock-solid study that showed that gay parents were less good for kids than straight parents that was unassailable science and replicable science, there wouldn’t really be an argument about that study. Mark Regnerus is in trouble because his study is corrupt.

As for the FRC being labeled a hate group by the Fam—by the Southern Poverty Law Center, it’s not because they’re pro-family, it’s not because they’re even anti-gay-marriage. The Boy Scouts are anti-gay-marriage; the Catholic Church is anti-gay-marriage, has not been so labeled. It’s been labeled thusly for things like a publication called “Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex with Boys,” put out by the Family Research Council, that states, “One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the prophets of a new sexual order. Homosexual activists publicly disassociate themselves from pedophiles as a part of this public relations strategy.” That is why they’ve been labeled a hate group. Not because they’re for a limited definition of marriage that excludes gay people.

You know, there’s been a lot of writing about my speech—after the, like, the shitstorm because I said the word bullshit—there’s been a lot of writing after the fact with Christian writers, thoughtful Christian writers, admitting that I am right. I was not attacking Christianity. I didn’t say Christianity is bullshit. I said there is bullshit in the Bible. I was talking about selective literal readings of the Bible. People who reach into Leviticus and say, “We as modern—‘A man shall not lie with a man, as he lies with a woman,’” but then ignore Deuteronomy: “A woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night must be stoned to death at her father’s doorstep.” If Leviticus is in force, why isn’t Deuteronomy? If we hear about “the abomination” that is a man lying with a man, we never hear about the hundred-plus other things that are labeled abominations in the Old Testament. And why not? Why this selective cherry-picking just to attack gay people? To justify really anti-gay bigotry. And I’m sorry, there’s no other word for it. I don’t think that opposition—principled opposition—to same-sex marriage is necessarily bigotry. That [pointing to FRC publication] is bigotry. What the Family Research Council has put out there is unquestionable bigotry, which is why they were labeled a hate group, not by “Gayland.” Not by me. But by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

And, you know, there’s this argument on your side that we want to change the institution of marriage. Do I have any time left?

OPPENHEIMER: Yeah, yeah, take a couple more—two minutes.

SAVAGE: Um, we don’t want to change the institution of marriage. The fact of the matter is, heterosexuals have changed the institution of marriage. Marriage for most of recorded human history was polygamous. Marriage for most of recorded human history was a property transaction, where one man took possession of another man’s daughter, and during that property transaction she became a wife. Men had—and this was the case for many, many centuries, and about a hundred years ago we began to redefine marriage to be an egalitarian institution where two people create each other as their next of kin through marriage. And it’s not a gendered institution anymore. It’s not about babies. It’s about commitment and love. It’s about establishing that next of kin. It’s about finding that one person in the world to be there for you who you will be for—be there for. And marriage just isn’t defined by sex roles anymore. Or the presence of children. The only time we hear that marriage is defined by children, or monogamy, or faith, is when gay people want to get married. Suddenly marriage is defined by children when gay people want to get married. You just had dinner with my son. We have children. Gay people have children. Adoptions by same-sex couples over the last ten years have tripled in the United States. If marriage is about children and the state made us D.J.’s parents, why won’t the state then give us a civil marriage? Not a religious ceremony, but a civil marriage license that affords us the same rights, responsibilities that any other straight couple that the state gave children to and made parents, legal parents, would be afforded. This isn’t an attack on anyone’s faith. Legal civil marriage doesn’t require anybody’s church to approve or officiate or accommodate married same-sex couples. It takes nothing from you or your definition of marriage for the institution of marriage as straight people currently define it and practice it, to be open to accommodate us as well. We’re 3-ish percent of the population. We are not going to de-center what it means to be a man and a woman from what it means to be married by allowing same-sex couples to marry. If anything it affirms the original sort of understanding of marriage and its importance, particularly for family life, to bring us into that order.

OPPENHEIMER: Do you want to take that?

BROWN: Yeah, you know, again, you’re saying what you want to be true, but is not in fact true. Of course it is true that by changing the fundamental nature of marriage—the fundamental nature of marriage, regardless of what any religious institution, regardless of what the state says—by its very definition, marriage is the union of a man and a woman, because only this type of union can bring into society new life and connect that new life with both a mother and a father. Now saying that somehow that’s completely gone because of the ’60s is wrong.

SAVAGE: I didn’t say that!

BROWN: Well, no, you said heterosexuals have already changed the definition of marriage.

SAVAGE: You’ve redefined marriage.

BROWN: No, we have not.

SAVAGE: Do straight people who get married have to have babies, or they’re suddenly not married?

BROWN: Of course—of course they don’t, but they never did. They never did. The notion—the simplistic notion that because parenthood is connected with marriage—because marriage is that institution by which society connects children to their biological mothers and fathers—the simplistic idea that somehow that means what we’re saying is that every single person has to have a child—that’s silly. We never claim that. Marriage is the institution that does this. Two men and two women cannot naturally have their own children; there is a mother or father somewhere. Marriage is the institution that connects that child to both their mother and father, and that’s why the state is interested in marriage. Because marriage is the institution that allows children to know both their mother and father. So to say that somehow changing the definition of marriage will have no effect, will have no effect, is simply wrong. There are two ideas on the table. Only one idea can stand. One idea is the marriage idea, the idea that’s been shared, as I said before, by many different cultures over great expanses of time and place, and that is there’s something special and unique about men and women coming together in marriage, and that society has an interest in uplifting this special and unique institution. And that only this is a marriage. The same-sex marriage idea is that that is wrong, and that those of us who don’t agree are the equivalent of bigots. You put that in the law, and don’t come back and say, “Oh, we’re surprised that now we’re closing down Catholic Charities adoption agency in Massachusetts because it won’t adopt kids to same-sex couples. We’re surprised that we’re removing the tax exemption from Ocean Grove Methodist Association because they won’t allow a part of their property to be used for a civil union ceremony. We’re surprised that the Knights of Columbus are now being fined for not allowing their halls to be used for same-sex marriages.” Why would you not do that? If your new idea of marriage is encoded into the law, it will be used to repress, marginalize, and punish those of us who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman and will act on it. That is what will happen.

And the second point of what you just said, again, being in my view quite dismissive of the overwhelming majority of Biblical scholars, saying that a few scholars say that what you’ve just laid out is true is not an argument. The overwhelming majority of Biblical scholars, whether Catholic or evangelical or secular, understand that at the Council of Jerusalem, in 50 A.D., the questions that you’re laying out like, “Why don’t we accept the dietary and ritual restrictions of the Old Testament? Why don’t we accept that in the New Testament?” Well, that was sorted out at the Council of Jerusalem, most of it was, and the reality was that there was a big fight. There was a fight with Judaizers. Marcion, who attempted to say that that old Jewish God is a different God—it’s totally different. There was a—this battle was waged—not a real battle, but an intellectual battle, for quite a while. At the end, it was very clear that, as the Council of Jerusalem said, that Christians did not need to follow all of the Jewish laws, that Christ came to consummate—

SAVAGE: Right!

BROWN: To be at the fulfillment. But what—but what you fail to distinguish is that the Church’s position on homosexuality was at no point, at no point contested. That there is not an attempt, a—the same sort of argument over what everyone—the Essenes, Jews, Christians—everyone accepted as the truth about human sexuality, that “Male and female He made them,” that this is a special and unique relationship. This is not contested. It’s only in recent years that there have been those who want to claim and rewrite Scripture to say that traditional sexual—traditional sexual morality is optional. Just because you believe in traditional sexual morality does not then mean that somehow you’re hateful or bigoted. I’m here, I’m here to debate you, it doesn’t mean I’m a—I hate you or dislike you.

OPPENHEIMER: OK, so—

BROWN: Go ahead.

OPPENHEIMER: May I stop you there?

BROWN: Mm-hmm.

OPPENHEIMER: That’s [?]. [Brown laughs.] I’m going to stop you there. So I’d like to interject with a couple questions.

SAVAGE: Well, I have just one quick response.

OPPENHEIMER: All right, you take a quick response.

BROWN: Then do I get a response? [Laughs.]

OPPENHEIMER: You guys can talk to each other. I have some questions.

SAVAGE: The point you made earlier about the abolitionists—the fact that you can make an argument from the Bible that is pro-slavery or anti-slavery doesn’t prove the Bible got slavery right. It proves the Bible is very malleable and you can mine it for either side, including people who mine the Bible for now both sides of the debate about—

BROWN: But that wasn’t the claim, Dan. That wasn’t your claim.

SAVAGE: About homosexuality. Yes, it was my point.

BROWN: You claim that the Bible is a radically pro-slavery document.

OPPENHEIMER: As the Jew—as the Jew here—

SAVAGE: And it is.

OPPENHEIMER: Can I say something as the Jew? As the house Jew?

SAVAGE: Yes. [Brown laughs.]

OPPENHEIMER: You—right—Christians long ago—I want to—I want to cede your point. [Gesturing to Brown.] Christians long ago decided that most of the rules in the Old Testament are not applicable to them. You don’t have to listen to them, right? So—I don’t eat pork. But you do. [Brown nods.] Because your people decided—was it at the Council of Jerusalem or was it—

BROWN: Yes, in A.D. 50.

OPPENHEIMER: I mean, this happened in various stages—“We don’t have to listen to that law.” It says clear in Deuteronomy—

BROWN: But that—but that—

OPPENHEIMER: Wait, wait—let me finish.

BROWN: OK.

OPPENHEIMER: Let me finish. As are some other laws about things like a man lying with a man, as are some other laws about what fibers you can mix together in your clothes, right? But basically, the Old Testament is not controlling—or what we would call the Hebrew Bible—isn’t controlling for your theology. So we can set—

BROWN: Well—

OPPENHEIMER: You would generally set it aside.

BROWN: But that’s not true. No, that’s not true. What you say is set aside, Christianity is the consummation—

OPPENHEIMER: I understand.

BROWN: In our view. We’re not setting aside—

OPPENHEIMER: But certain—

BROWN: There are certain things—

OPPENHEIMER: Certain rules got kept, and certain ones got lost.

BROWN: Jesus himself says—Christ himself says, “Why do—why did you allow a divorce? Why was divorce allowed?” Christ turns around and says, “This was allowed because of hardness of heart.” So it’s clear right in the New Testament that it isn’t everything that’s being swept away, it’s that it’s being consummated in a new law, a new covenant.

OPPENHEIMER: Right, I understand. When the new law and the new covenant was consummated, certain rules that my people take very seriously, like not eating a lamb in its mother—a kid in its mother’s milk, right, because that’s disrespectful to the animal—

BROWN: Mm-hmm.

OPPENHEIMER: Like not eating shellfish, etc. don’t matter to you anymore as a Christian. [Turning to Savage] And didn’t matter to your father and mother, right? They don’t count. OK? Other laws got kept. The rationale for which ones were kept and which ones weren’t are not immediately apparent to a Hebrew such as me, right?

BROWN: Mm-hmm.

OPPENHEIMER: But, so, when you look to justify—let me finish—when you look to justify certain prohibitions on homosexuality, it makes much more sense to look to the New Testament. I just want to take Dan’s point there and say, but the New Testament did get slavery wrong, it’s an ecc—

BROWN: No.

OPPENHEIMER: Yes, it wasn’t the exact same kind of slavery—

BROWN: No.

OPPENHEIMER: But it’s an eccentric reading of it to say that it doesn’t say, “Slaves, obey your masters.”

BROWN: It’s not eccentric at all. It’s not eccentric at all.

OPPENHEIMER: What’s more—

SAVAGE: “Obey your masters as if they’re Christ.”

OPPENHEIMER: Let me say one more thing—let me say one more thing, to the Catholic convert here [pointing to Brown]. Right? You find divorce—divorce is not permitted in Catholicism, right? [Brown nods.] But I don’t—it’s not my understanding that the National Organization for Marriage is pushing as hard—

SAVAGE: Or at all…

OPPENHEIMER: —to prohibit divorce—civil divorce as you are to prohibit civil marriage of gay people, right? All I’m saying—the only point I’m making here, as the one who finished his degree in Religion and was a student of David Brion Davis, OK?

BROWN: Mm-hmm.

OPPENHEIMER: The only point I’m making here is I don’t think it’s reasonable to say that there aren’t specific emphases that get placed on different things at different points in time. So for example, I don’t see you putting money and lobbying efforts towards eliminating the permissibility of divorce.

BROWN: Of course not. Look, we are the only—

SAVAGE: Because that would touch on the rights of straight people.

BROWN: No, no, it has nothing to do with that. We are the only group—we—

SAVAGE: Because then you would be attacking the rights of the majority, and not a tiny defenseless minority.

BROWN: Talking—talking over someone is not an argument.

OPPENHEIMER: No, go ahead.

BROWN: We are the only group that is focusing on this last step to—to permanently alter and fundamentally undermine the nature of marriage, which is to radically redefine it. There is no question that the no-fault divorce revolution, and the notion that marriage is predominantly about me, that marriage is about the self-fulfillment of adults, not the live needs of children, there is no question that that is what got us to this point. But to say that we’ve chosen to—

OPPENHEIMER: Wait—

BROWN: —focus on this one issue—

OPPENHEIMER: Can I just ask—

BROWN: And then you [gesturing to Oppenheimer] decide, “Well, you know, that’s not as important as feeding the poor, or…” Of course not.

OPPENHEIMER: No, no, I’m not—I’m agnostic with it, I’m just asking, because I know you’re a Roman Catholic [Brown nods], and I’m a student and a journalist of this stuff, are you, for example, in favor of making divorce illegal again?

BROWN: No, because you believe something is wrong, doesn’t mean you make it illegal. This is not—

SAVAGE: Then why not—the same policy toward civil gay marriage.

BROWN: But that is—but again, there’s a misunderstanding here. Gay marriage cannot exist. There cannot be a marriage of two men or two women. Just because the state—

SAVAGE: It exists in Canada, and Spain…

BROWN: Just because the state says it’s so, this is not based upon reality.

SAVAGE: Well—

BROWN: Marriage by—you can call a cat a dog in the law, but a cat does not become a dog. Marriage is by its definition—it is intrinsically some thing. It is not simply about your desires; it is not about my desires, so to—

SAVAGE: Marriage is a package of civil rights and legal responsibilities. No longer is it a gendered institution—

BROWN: For any two people? What about three people or four?

SAVAGE: The merits of polygamy—and, you know, if you want to ban polygamy—most polygamous marriages have been heterosexual. So if you’re worried about the slippery slope, it’s heterosexual marriage that puts us on the slippery slope to polygamy.

BROWN: It isn’t—I’m not making a slippery slope argument here. I’m making an argument based upon logic. I’m saying if your argument is that you want the rights, benefits, and privileges of marriage, and therefore you deserve them and should have them—

SAVAGE: And I want equal protection under the law.

BROWN: Then why should not someone who wants to marry three, four, or five people?

SAVAGE: Equal protection of the law—everyone has a right to marry—everyone who’s straight has a right to marry someone. Right now as a gay person I have a right to marry no one.

BROWN: Well, what about the right of the person who believes that they’re in love with two, three, or four people?

SAVAGE: Jonathan Rauch makes a great argument against polygamous marriages because they do actual harm, because high-status men then collect dozens or hundreds of wives like David in the Bible.

BROWN: This is like the same argument you would reject from me.

SAVAGE: Like Solomon in the Bible…

BROWN: This is the same argument you would reject—

SAVAGE: No, it’s unfair to say to a gay marriage advocate that then we have to make the defense for polygamous marriage or multiple marriages when that’s not my argument or my fight.

BROWN: Just because it’s—

SAVAGE: Let the polygamists make that argument—and those polygamists are all straight.

BROWN: OK, but just because it’s—

SAVAGE: There are no gay people out there making an argument for polygamous marriage.

BROWN: Just because it’s not your argument, doesn’t mean that it naturally follows. If marriage is based primarily about the wishes—of the self-fulfillment of adults, and if the adult definition of marriage—and desire for it—produces this right, then why doesn’t someone have the right to marry two, three, or four people? This—the reason I bring up this point is not because it’s gonna happen tomorrow. The reason I bring up this point is because if marriage is not intrinsically about bringing the two sexes together, if it is not—that is not what it is—and once you go off into this other area, then you have completely destroyed marriage because it is whatever you want it to be.

OPPENHEIMER: Can I—?

SAVAGE: Has polygamous marriage come to Canada, which just had same-sex marriage legalized?

BROWN: Oh, there’s a push for polyamory. Judith Stacey and a number of scholars wrote a whole piece on “Beyond Gay Marriage.”

OPPENHEIMER: So let me—let me interrupt and say that I think the answer—I think the answer to that, as someone with, you know, who’s married and not gay and has no dog in this fight particularly, I think the answer to that might be that the government should evaluate what’s good public policy empirically speaking, right? I know that neither of you will—

SAVAGE: Which is Jonathan Rauch’s argument.

OPPENHEIMER: So let me say I think that that could end up with bad answers for both of you. In principle it could. It might not. But in principle it could. So I actually want to ask each of you: Is there any evidence—right, so this is Karl Popper’s test of falsifiability, right? If you’re making an honest argument, one with integrity, then presumably, it’s based on evidence, rather than just ideology, right? Presumably some evidence could come along that would make you change your mind. And when I asked Maggie Gallagher this question, [gesturing to Brown] your ally, right, I said, “Could any evidence come along that would make you say gay marriage is a good idea?” She basically said—she said, “Such evidence exists, but it would be so hard to ascertain that I can’t reasonably think I’ll ever see it,” right? She basically said no. She will believe what she believes no matter what the evidence is. She can defend herself on her blog if I’ve misunderstood that. I’m trying to be fair to Maggie, whom I do—I do think is, you know, an honest dealer, right? I’d like to ask each of you: Is there any evidence that could come along—what evidence would make you change your mind about anything? It could be gay marriage; it could be the status of homosexuals in society. Is there a piece of evidence that you could see—for example, that in fact gay marriage, or children being raised by gay couples, turns out badly for the children on average? Or for example, that it turns out well for them, on—on average, right? Could you see the evidence that would make you alter your position in some way?

SAVAGE: Could I go first?

OPPENHEIMER: Dan.

SAVAGE: If marriage—if same-sex marriage, you know, in Canada somehow, slid towards people marrying their horses—which is a pamphlet that the Family Research Council put out, comparing same-sex marriage to people marrying animals—or child rape or other things that I find morally outrageous and offensive, that might change my position on same-sex marriage. The idea, though, that same-sex marriage is harming children—the choice isn’t for kids like my son D.J. between straight couples and gay couples. There are more children out there who need to be adopted than there are families to take them. The choice literally for our son was me and Terry or no one. Terry—uh, D.J.’s birth mother was nine—eight and a half months pregnant. She had approached two heterosexual couples who turned her down. There were three straight couples that failed D.J. before he was adopted by Terry and I. Even if there were social science showing that the outcomes for children were less optimal with a same-sex couple as parents, a same-sex couple as parents is still more optimal, is still a better thing for a child than no parents at all, or bouncing around foster care being abused, physically abused. So that’s my answer to your question.

You know, you’re such a Gatling gun of examples. I do have to throw out the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which you threw out as an example of gay people—of legal gay marriage somehow oppressing people of faith. That was in New Jersey where there is no right to same-sex marriage.

BROWN: No, but there’s civil unions.

SAVAGE: There’s civil unions. This isn’t about discrim—it’s about discrimination law. They had a tax exempt status for this pavilion. This lesbian couple wanted to use the pavilion for their civil union ceremony. The tax exempt status that the church had filed for didn’t allow them to discriminate against them; it had to be open to the general public. They lost that tax exempt status for the pavilion. The state helped them file for the correct tax exempt status, which is a religious organization tax exempt status, and now they have their tax exempt status for the pavilion and they can exclude anyone that they like. The outcome for the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association was positive. Those lesbians did them a favor by attempting to rent that thing because it identified that they’ve filed for the wrong tax exempt status.

BROWN: I cannot—

SAVAGE: It is—it is—

OPPENHEIMER: So that was two minutes.

SAVAGE: It is false witness for you to cite that as an example.

BROWN: No, it isn’t. No, it’s completely wrong.

OPPENHEIMER: You can take two minutes, but in that time I want you to tell me what evidence would make you change your position.

BROWN: Well, first, I have to answer this.

OPPENHEIMER: OK, but in your two minutes.

BROWN: Again, Dan, you’re just—you’re just wrong on this. Look, for two years, you have a religious organization that loses part of its state tax exempt status, and then you say, because it took two extra years more, no harm, no foul, in fact things are better. Wrong. That’s completely wrong. And you fail to bring up, obviously, Massachusetts Catholic Charities or some of the other examples because—

SAVAGE: I can address that too; I was just going to take one.

OPPENHEIMER: No, it’s his two minutes. It’s his two minutes.

BROWN: No, because, because—

SAVAGE: Google it. Google it, people.

BROWN: Please Google it.

SAVAGE: Because everything you say has been debunked.

OPPENHEIMER: Shhh…

BROWN: Yeah. No, they have not been debunked at all because what people will claim is that this is because of—because of discrimination law. Well, of course, if the state incorporates your new idea of same-sex marriage, then discrimination law’s tentacles go much, much further.

SAVAGE: Only if you’re taking state money. You can’t take state money and discriminate!

OPPENHEIMER: I want to hear—

BROWN: Dan is again—please—I—no, you have to let me—

SAVAGE: The Mormon charities in Massachusetts—

OPPENHEIMER: Dan, hold on.

SAVAGE: —are still discriminating against same-sex couples.

BROWN: You have to let me respond and at least clarify simple, point blank untruths. It is untruth—it is a simple untruth, and anyone can look it up—that the reason Massachusetts—Boston Catholic Charities lost its tax exempt status was because it was taking state money. That is verifiably, point blank false. That was not the reason the state gave. The state said, “You are discriminating by not placing kids with same-sex couples.” It has nothing to do with state money. So—so that is just wrong.

OPPENHEIMER: Can I just ask—I do want to—just to keep us on time—

SAVAGE: [Holding up a piece of paper] Someone should get a close-up of this.

OPPENHEIMER: Is there any evidence that could come that would cause you to change your positions in any way?

BROWN: Well, I disagree with your—your—your experiential Karl Popper analysis in the first place with something like this.

OPPENHEIMER: OK.

BROWN: Because this is an area of first principle. This is an area of basic reason. It would be like saying, “Would you find evidence—what would convince you that a square could be a circle?”

OPPENHEIMER: OK. OK, so I just want to be clear on that. Even if—and I’m not mocking your position at all, I want to be clear—even if, 50 years from now, when a certain number of states have had same-sex marriage and have had children raised by same-sex couples and civil unions, etc. etc., we have some—logically speaking, a body of reasonable social science could exist that shows that these children are well raised and happy—

BROWN: I don’t—

OPPENHEIMER: In principle, it could even show they’re happier. I’m not saying there’s any reason they would be. But in principle, logically, it could show that. You still wouldn’t change your position.

BROWN: I wouldn’t change the idea that there’s something fundamentally real about marriage as a man and woman.

OPPENHEIMER: OK, a thousand years’ worth of that kind of evidence.

SAVAGE: Allowing same-sex couples to marry doesn’t take anything away from—

BROWN: It does, it fundamentally undermines—

SAVAGE: —that understanding of marriage.

OPPENHEIMER: What—I just want—again, I just want to be clear.

BROWN: We disagree on this, Dan. I think it—it clearly does. It does take away—

OPPENHEIMER: What does it take away?

BROWN: Well, it—

SAVAGE: Because if I’m married too it somehow diminishes your opposite-sex marriage?

OPPENHEIMER: Who—so let me ask—I actually think, in principle, there could be harms. I’d like to know what they would be.

BROWN: Oh, the harms are very clear. I laid out some of them. When you change the definition of marriage, you don’t just change it for Dan, you change it for everyone. You change the public policy, the public understanding of marriage.

OPPENHEIMER: OK, so what’s the fallout from that?

BROWN: Well, the fallout from that is everything from schools—what’s taught to our children in schools. Our kids are taught that it’s the same thing for Mary to grow up and marry a girl as to marry a boy. Same for—for Johnny. And that those of us who think differently are essentially bigots.

OPPENHEIMER: OK, but aside from—so, you’ve—you’ve—I think established your belief that there would be extra opprobrium against people who believe differently. But would anyone’s marriages be worse?

BROWN: Well, I think it damages—I think it fundamentally damages the institution to take something that is not a marriage and to say it is.

OPPENHEIMER: Damages how? I mean, and again, I just want—I’m an empiricist here. Damages how? Will there be—will more marriages fail? Will fewer marriages happen? What’s the empirical fallout you’re predicting? ’Cause we’re going down this road.

BROWN: You don’t want—I don’t actually think we’re actually going down this road.

OPPENHEIMER: Well, if we go down this road.

SAVAGE: We are going down this road.

OPPENHEIMER: So far. Let me put it this way. Empirically speaking, in the last ten years, we’ve moved some piece down this road.

BROWN: I—I don’t—

OPPENHEIMER: What’s the fallout from that?

BROWN: I think—again, 32 of 32 states have voted to protect marriage—

OPPENHEIMER: I got the talking points. But there’s more states now that have gay marriage than 10 years ago.

BROWN: But that’s—but—

OPPENHEIMER: What’s the fallout you predict from that?

BROWN: Well, the fallout I’ve already laid out to you. You don’t like the arguments—

OPPENHEIMER: No, is there fallout in people’s marriages? I understand there’s fallout in that you’ll be called a bigot. And you will be. I understand. Is there fallout in the quality of people’s marriages?

BROWN: It’s not just that we’ll be called a bigot. It’s that the whole—the whole notion of this good, true, and beautiful thing that is marriage, the union of a man and a woman, we will have our public culture and law saying that that good, true, and beautiful thing is not true.

OPPENHEIMER: Right, but—

BROWN: And that our acceptance of that—

SAVAGE: How is it going to say that when 97, roughly, over 90 percent of all marriages are still gonna be opposite-sex marriages, even if gay people can get married?

BROWN: It doesn’t matter. In New York and in other states, you have not seen large numbers of same-sex marriages, but you’ve still seen Justices of the Peace told they can no longer have their job.

SAVAGE: Who are state employees with a state function.

BROWN: Well, again, and you think—and you think—

SAVAGE: Do you think a Justice of the Peace—a Justice of the Peace, on belief—on faith grounds, should be able to deny a marriage license, signing a marriage license, for an interfaith couple because it violates their religious beliefs?

BROWN: Of course not, and I don’t think it should happen for interracial marriages either, but those are totally different things. Again, you’re comparing apples to oranges.

SAVAGE: I’m comparing one kind of discrimination to another kind of discrimination.

BROWN: No, it isn’t discrimination. That’s where we disagree. If it was discrimination, I would support your position. It’s not discrimination—

SAVAGE: It is discrimination.

BROWN: —to call an apple an apple and an orange an orange.

SAVAGE: It’s discrimination between two different kinds of couples based on the gender and orientations of those couples.

BROWN: No. Then I can have the same argument, what I laid out earlier, why are you not discriminating against folks who believe that they can marry two, three, or four people? This whole discrimination language is false because before you ever get to this point, you have to show that somehow it’s the same thing. It’s not the same thing. Unions of two men and two women are not the same.

SAVAGE: Because they can’t produce a child.

BROWN: Well, that’s one very—very clear reality.

SAVAGE: That’s the one you keep hammering away at.

BROWN: Well, they also don’t bring the two halves of humanity together. We believe—I believe—there’s something important in that union, that there are two halves of humanity. Bringing those two halves together in a faithful, committed, monogamous relationship is very, very important.

SAVAGE: So Lyle Menendez—

OPPENHEIMER: We’ll go two minutes more.

SAVAGE: —one of the two Menendez brothers who murdered—Lyle Menendez, one of the two Menendez brothers who murdered their parents, is legally married. Got married. They’ll never consummate this marriage; they will never have children. You will never bring those two halves of humanity together in the Menendez marriage because Lyle Menendez is going to be in prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole. Lyle Menendez can marry and that does no harm to marriage, but somehow allowing Terry and I to marry, the parents of that child that you had dinner with, is going to do irrevocable harm to marriage as an institution. How?

BROWN: Traditionally, consummation was a part of marriage throughout Western—

OPPENHEIMER: OK, lemme end with this—

SAVAGE: How does the Menendez marriage not harm…?

BROWN: Well, again, you can create any example, you can bring up any example of folks who’ve been divorced four or fives times, you can create this Lyle Menendez example—

SAVAGE: I didn’t create it.

BROWN: Well, but it has absolutely no bearing to the fundamental question of what is marriage?

OPPENHEIMER: Can I—?

BROWN: Marriage is by its nature the conjugal union of one man and one woman. Just because heterosexuals betray fidelity, they betray anything that you’ve laid out—

SAVAGE: Historically, more marriages have been polygamous than any other form.

BROWN: Well, that, again—

SAVAGE: Over the course of human history. So this one man-one woman thing is a misnomer and it is not Biblical.

BROWN: Well—

SAVAGE: How many wives did Solomon have? How many wives did David have?

BROWN: So you just only accept part of the New Testament—by the time—Old Testament. By the time of the New Testament, polygamy was basically gone. Your history is wrong, ’cause you say the whole Bible accepts—

SAVAGE: I said the Old Testament.

BROWN: No, you said—you said the Bible. But regardless—

OPPENHEIMER: OK, so we’re just going to take one more minute, and I’m going to pose the question. I’m gonna pose the question, which is, I’d like to know, you each get one minute, and then we’ll—then we’ll stop.

SAVAGE: Oh my God.

OPPENHEIMER: ’Cause it’s an hour’s time.

SAVAGE: I feel like we’re just getting started.

BROWN: We only have one minute.

OPPENHEIMER: And then we’ll stay and we’ll just like [punches other hand] pummel each other.

BROWN: He’s gonna take me out back and… [mimics punching]

OPPENHEIMER: So here’s the question—

SAVAGE: Oh, for crying out loud.

OPPENHEIMER: Here’s the question I have, which is—and you have one minute each, which I think that’s enough time—what kind of marriage regime do you endorse? If you could create the law from scratch, and I want to know from you [turns to Savage] why wouldn’t polygamy be allowed, right? What regime are you going to create and why would you include what you’d include and exclude what you’d exclude? And what marriage regime would you create [turns to Brown] including would divorce be permissible, etc. etc., and if so, why, and if not, why not? Again, we’re all talking the realm of ideal. None of us is controlling history here, but I’d like to know, if you were counseling people on what kind of laws to make in an ideal world, what would the regime look like? Dan, do you want to go first?

SAVAGE: Marriage is the legal union of two adults, and that’s what I think it should be, and I believe it should be limited to that. I think Jon—I can’t paraphrase Jonathan Rauch’s argument against polygamy, but I think polygamy fails on its merits, because polygamy is tied to a class structure that is destabilizing, that creates scores of unmarriageable men—polygamy is always one man with many, many wives—how many wives would Donald Trump have is polygamy was legal and possible for Donald Trump? Probably countless at this point. And when one man has 30 wives, 10 wives—there’s another man—there’s nine men who have no wives, when one man has 10 wives. And that’s destabilizing to society, and it fails on its merits for the harm that it does. Same-sex marriage does no harm; it does not fail on the merits of doing harm to other people. The only way gay people harm people when they marry is when gay people marry straight people, which is the Religious Right’s prescription for us; we’re not supposed to be gay, we’re supposed to be ex-gay, and marry women and fake it. Um, and that is—if anyone goes to the Straight Spouse Network, reads about the damage done when gay people enter into opposite-sex marriages—unworkable. I think marriage is the legal union of two adults. Marriage should not be incestuous, and I don’t believe it should be polygamous either, and I don’t know any gay person who does. And I know there are some radical writers and thinkers out there but you can’t pen me with them just because I’m for same-sex marriage and so are they plus a whole lot else.

OPPENHEIMER: OK. [Gestures to Brown.] What would your marriage regime look like?

BROWN: Yeah, the question obviously is not whether or not Dan supports polyamory or polygamy or multiple marriages. It’s not the question. The question is, by what reason do you not? And I don’t think Jonathan Rauch’s argument holds water if you fundamentally—torn away the fundamental—the nature of what marriage is, as the union of a man and a woman, based on their complementarity, based on the ability to have children, the connection between parenthood—that they could have children, even if they don’t—once you do away with that and you make it only about adult desires, then I’m not even talking about polygamy—what about three men? What about whatever you want? This is not—does not mean that I’m saying this is going to happen tomorrow. I’m not saying that at all; I’m saying by what reason do you oppose it? And I don’t think there is a reason. As far as an ideal marriage regime: I think marriage in America before the no-fault divorce revolution, as far as the legal structure. Now, again, there’s no period at which everything is perfect; things can always be better. But there is no doubt in my mind that the reason we’re even debating this topic, the reason this topic really doesn’t come up until quite recently, is because only in a society that has lost the conception of marriage as being intricately tied to parenthood and children, about children’s real needs rather than adult desires, only at that point do we see Western cultures especially embracing this new notion of marriage where it could actually be same-sex marriage. So, um, you know, you brought up the issue of divorce. Do I believe in divorce? No. Aquinas says that there—obviously laws have to fit a certain culture and a culture with widespread divorce trying to make something, you know, illegal is wrong, but I think we should make it a lot more difficult; I think that no-fault divorce should go—go away, and that, that the gold standard for public policy should be that marriage is the lifelong commitment of one man and one woman.

OPPENHEIMER: OK. Well, we’ll hang out for a while and keep talking. [Brown nods.]

BROWN: [Shaking Oppenheimer’s hand] Thank you.

SAVAGE: [Shaking Oppenheimer’s hand] Thank you.

BROWN: [Shaking Savage’s hand] Thank you.

OPPENHEIMER: And so, the dinner table is closed.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cat.rennolds Cat Rennolds via Facebook

    thanks. I try not to watch videos much.

  • Don M. Burrows via Facebook

    Brown’s remarks about slavery in the New Testament are ridiculous. Demonstrably ridiculous.

  • Lisa Crawford via Facebook

    Game. Set. Match.

  • Miriam Byroade via Facebook

    I watched the whole thing, and it was hard. Brown had lots of opinions back up with zero facts, and once he went on with “natural law” it was hard for me to keep my eyes from rolling right out of my head. Dan was a true gentleman and handled it like a pro.

    I wish I could tell people like Brown that I am deeply offended by the idea that my marriage is “super duper awesome special” because of the genitals my husband and I have. our relationship is more than our bodies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/derek.duknic Derek Duknic via Facebook

    Cat, i watched this one yesterday: turn it on and listen in the background if you will. it is a great demonstration of civil discussion, and respectful dissagreement. we need more of this :-)

    • catrenn

      no, I just meant, I make my living on my computer using headphones for sound files. I can sometimes read and work at the same time, but not watch videos or listen to music. When I’m off work I have a 3-year-old. Therefore I deeply appreciate people who are willing to transcribe things I wish I could watch.

  • Jen Henley

    Savage:1, Brown:0

    Thanks, John! When’s the next one?-)

  • http://amandajustice.blogspot.com Amanda

    Am I the only one who got exhausted just trying to follow Mr. Brown’s portions? Everything was so circuitous, it rendered his arguments incomprehensible to me.

    • K

      Amanda,

      You are not alone – I listened to him again and it actually seemed worse (i.e. harder to follow where he was going) the second time when I was listening more carefully…

    • Lynne

      Here are two observations I have about this debate, well three if you count the fact that I believe Savage was far more organized and articulate in presenting his thoughts than Brown. I’m a Christian who believes in the inerrancy of the bible, but I wholeheartedly concur with Heather’s statement about 10 comments above, and I support the LGBT community to 99% of my being.

      I’m new to this blog, so have mercy with me and my ‘caveman’ logic…please!

      When Oppenheimer asked the following question, Brown fumbled around dizzily and I never really did hear a coherent answer. The question was this: “I’d like to ask each of you: Is there any evidence that could come along—what evidence would make you change your mind about anything? It could be gay marriage; it could be the status of homosexuals in society.”

      God only knows what Brown said, but for me, the only evidence that would change the 1% of my mind that would still reserve, (after giving all rights and considerations to homosexuals, including the right to civil marriage), the conviction that homosexual behaviors and unions are inherently less ideal than their heterosexual counterpart, would be conclusive and irrefutable evidence that there is no God, (Judeo-Christian God).

      That 1% of me would be at odds with God, not with homosexuals. If there is no God, or if God was ‘wrong’ about it, that would be a deal-breaker for me. The bible would just be another self-help book authored by humans as a way to make sense of our existence and provide a moral compass for communal living. I don’t believe that, but I certainly appreciate and understand that many people are non-theist or atheist in their belief system. Is that good enough reason to NOT develop our legal system around the bible? Not sure, but as Lincoln said, “our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government”.

      And the last question Oppenheimer asked took an unnecessary ‘beating around the bush’ from Brown as well. The question was this: “And what marriage regime would you create [turns to Brown] including would divorce be permissible, etc. etc., and if so, why, and if not, why not? Again, we’re all talking the realm of ideal.”

      What a PERFECT opportunity to simply reiterate the perfect comments made by the perfect Master himself, Jesus Christ, when he was faced with what was, in essence if not form, the very same question from the Pharisees in Mark 10:4-9. Jesus does not condemn anyone, but he does point to the perfect ideal – to the first marriage of Adam and Eve (with God) in the Garden of Eden, before sin entered the human race. I can think of no instance that we need ever stray from these words of Jesus (and the parallel in Matthew 19:3-8) to illustrate what is the ideal. And God knows we don’t live up to the ideal – that is what God is all about – providing His own righteousness for us. My marriage is far from the ideal and that is just one more reason I have much compassion for everyone who struggles in their relationships. And yet, the ideal is still there and I cannot, in my heart and mind and spirit, believe that Jesus has any other union in mind when he offers us this example.

      Mark 10:5-8 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

      p.s. John, respectfully, I’d ask you, as a Christian man how do you circumvent Christ’s words in Mark 10?

      • http://Www.thespinningdude.com Bryan Sebeck

        So, Amanda, I want to pose a hypothetical question to you, so please bear with me while I lay it out for you.

        Imagine that the church were the final arbiter of marriage. Straight couples who wanted to enter into a legal union with one another were still able to do so via the government, but it wasn’t called a marriage. Say, for sake of argument, we called it a Contract of Legal Union. So, if you got married, the church has to approve, but if you enter into a Contract of Legal Union, you don’t get the church involved. This Contract of Legal Union would offer participants the very same rights and responsibilities traditionally afforded to married couples, but in a package that has no affiliation with the church at all.

        In that instance, would you be opposed to same sex couples being permitted to enter into a Contract of Legal Union?

        I bring this up because there is a disconnect that same sex marriage supporters run into when discussing this with opponents. The situation that I’ve described above is what we want. We just want same sex relationships to have access to all of the legal rights and responsibilities afforded to heterosexual couples who get married outside of the church and all of the tertiary benefits that come along with that like health care coverage, pension benefits, adoption rights, etc.

        The problem is, that if you simply have Civil Unions and not marriage for same sex couples, you run into the very same 14th Amendment problem that we already run into. As we can state from the conclusions of Brown v. Board, separate can never be equal. As a result, there are only three options available. 1) Legalized nationally and locally recognized same sex marriage. 2) Elimination of marriage and immediate replacement with a “Contract of Legal Union” that applies to all currently married couples and open to same sex couples (and nationally and locally recognized). 3) Elimination of all legal recognition of marriage and elimination of the rights and responsibilities thereof for all people. Of these three options, only the first is actually feasible.

        • Lynne

          Bryan, I am trying to follow and please bear with me. I do support your example in the first paragraph. But your conclusion, are you saying that the only feasible option for same-sex marriage would by necessity, in recognition of the Constitution, mandate that same-sex marriages be performed by any and all private institutions if those institutions include marriage as a service offered to their members?

          • http://www.thespinningdude.com Bryan Sebeck

            Lynne, it would absolutely not require that. That would be a violation of the separation of church and state and a violation of the church’s right to practice their religion as they please.

            What it would do, is mean that same sex couples can do go a judge or magistrate and be legally married by them. It would require that any judge or magistrate perform the legal ceremony even if they morally object to it, but that is an instance where they are not acting as a individual, but as an agent of the government.

            Churches, temples, synagogues, etc., would still be able to refuse to perform a religious ceremony if they chose to. This is already allowable under the law. For instance, there are some churches which will refuse to perform marriages for interfaith couples or for couples which have previously been divorced. This is perfectly legal. But, those couples have the right to go to a government office and have their union recognized by the government, even if a religious institution won’t recognize it. Likewise, there are some religions in the US that will marry multiple partners. They are recognized in the religion as being married, but that holy and spiritual union isn’t recognized by the state. This is a perfect illustration of how religious and legal marriage do not necessarily go hand in hand. This is how it would work with same sex marriages as well.

            I think that what you’ve demonstrated is what I have found in several of my coworkers. They don’t oppose the idea of same sex couples gaining full legal recognition by government, but they get hung up on the term “marriage”. Marriage is two things in the US. It is a holy union between (typically) a man and a woman that is recognized by the church, temple, synagogue, etc. that performed it. It is also a legal union between (typically) a man and a woman wherein the couple agrees to live under certain legal responsibilities in exchange for certain rights. They are separate institutions with the same name. When marriage equality advocates talk about what we’re fighting for, it’s the second institution that they we want. We recognize and understand that religions wouldn’t be required to recognize the marriage, but that’s ok.

          • Lynne

            Yes, Bryan, I think we are in full agreement then. I hope it is as simple as you’ve outlined.

          • http://www.thespinningdude.com Bryan Sebeck

            Lynne,

            It can’t be more complicated than how I’ve outlined it. The US Constitution prohibits it.

            So, I’d like to ask for you to do me a favor. In the future, when you talk about this with your Christian friends and family, can you try to remember that what same sex couples want isn’t to force the church to do anything, but just to get access to the legal side of things? And can you try to explain this to your friends and family as best as you can?

            I really appreciate you hearing me out. It’s far too often that people who are opposed to same sex marriages are unwilling to hear us out and understand that what you fear is not what we want. We can both have our way.

          • Lynne

            I’ve been invested and involved (in certain preliminary ways) in the LGBT community for many years, so the future you refer to above has already begun for me.

            The complications I am thinking that may occur would revolve around the rights of private institutions (churches) to uphold and profer their interpretation of biblical text in this matter.

          • DR

            With all due respect, this is paranoid. Christians need to start understanding that most gay people (and atheists at this point) want absolutely nothing to do with us. They view us as a dangerous, destabilizing force in America (if not the world). And they have the data to prove that, the impact our “theology” has had on the GLBTA community is devastating.

            Christians have lost the ability to even hear what it is that people want. They want to be legally married. They don’t want our religion dictating their legal rights, period. That this is somehow going to magically bleed into the rights of private institutions doesn’t come remotely close to what people want. Frankly, believing that people are even interested in us as Christians anymore is kind of a joke. They want to be left alone in the country where they pay taxes just like Christians do. That’s it. Please, let’s end the paranoia that people are out to make our religion illegal, it’s hysterical and respectfully,self-absorbed. No one cares about us anymore (and after we’ve treated them? Nor should they).

          • Lynne

            DR – I agree with everything you are saying, EXCEPT this: “Frankly, believing that people are even interested in us as Christians anymore is kind of a joke.”

            A couple years ago, I was reading articles (thru ACLJ, NARTH and some pro-gay media outlets), about policies (legal suits) being drafted and filed which would bring certain private institutions (churches, pastors) under investigation and possible charges for ‘offenses’ under the definition of ‘hate speech’ for speaking (or providing written materials) which could be construed as non-supportive of the LGBT community. There are efforts to censure or criminalize psychologists for offering any therapy options to clients (even if the client requests it) which would fall outside a total acceptance and celebration of their sexuality.

            I hope nothing amounts from such endeavors, and I am never going to lose any sleep over it, but those are some of the ‘red flags’ I was referring to.

          • mike moore

            Lynne – these are intentional “red flag” campaigns of misinformation.

            Valid legal issues arise only in very narrow circumstances. Example: when institutions accepting public funding discriminate (Catholic Charities adoption policies, or when church-owned venues which are funded, all or in-part, by public tax dollars, refuse service.)

            Legal issues also arise when businesses which are open to the public discriminate against people due their color, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

            And Westboro Baptist’s Supreme court win has proven the huge extent to which freedom of speech remains protected.

          • DR

            Well of course they are examining all of that Lynne, you have to be aware of all of the hate speech offered and protected under the guise of “Biblical truth”, and I’m aware of those lawsuits – they are all rooted in ensuring the federal protections we’ve all voted in are maintained, even in religious circles. Most of the world has caught up to how the Bible is manipulated at times and makes a perfect distinction of what is and is not hate speech. It’s not a problem. We’re the only country who is so paranoid about getting to say exactly what we want to “in the name of Jesus” that we can’t even think logically anymore.

        • Lymis

          Bryan, your post misses the point.

          You are still privileging religion in the secular and civil sphere, but granting a legal status of “marriage” only to people who go though a religious ceremony, and granting a separate – and in this context, deliberately secondary – legal status to anyone who doesn’t.

          Having civil unions grant all the same legal benefits, responsibilities and privileges is a bare minimum, but it still doesn’t separate church and state – it places Church squarely in the center of the civil process.

          This is no different than saying that you want to set up an educational system where only Church-affiliated medical schools could issue an MD, and that non-church medical schools could issue a “Certificate of completion of Medical Training” and could legal do everything MD’s can do but just can’t call themselves “Doctor.” Whatever else that might be, it certainly isn’t separation of church and state.

          Religion doesn’t get to declare a monopoly on marriage, not on the name and not on the status. It never has held it – in fact, Christian church involvement in marriage came FAR later than civil marriage, whatever anyone claims.

          If the church wants to have a word that means religiously blessed marriage, it can come up with one – “Matrimony” comes to mind, and would have the same religious importance with lack of secular status a Baptism, Confirmation, or a Bar Mitzvah has.

          • http://www.thespinningdude.com Bryan Sebeck

            Lymis,

            You’ve entirely missed the point of what I was saying and why. What I did for Lynne was to set forth a hypothetical situation to illustrate a very specific point.

            The point that I’m illustrating is that there are unfortunately two different institutions that operate under the same name. By presenting a hypothetical world wherein those two institutions do /not/ share a name, it allowed me to bring to light the root of Lynne’s issue, which is the difficulty in seperating the discussion about the legal institution from the religious institution.

            Once bringing this to light, we can then discuss the possible options to gain access to that legal instution that are legally sound. As I stated, and you clearly reiterated, the only of these options that works is opening marriage to same sex relationships as well as heterosexual relationships.

            So, could you please explain to me where, exactly, I went awry? Was it in that I addressed the issue strictly from a rational, logical, and legal standpoint without specifically addressing the emotional side? Or was it where I presented a hypothetical that we don’t really want as a way of illustrating how what we /do/ want is the only viable option?

          • Lymis

            You went awry in using the standard name that has been in use for both secular and religious marriage and limited it to religious marriage only – there by “taking away” from secular marriage something that is has had for as long as governments have been involved in marriage – something that vastly predates the US, and predates the official Church involvement in marriage.

            Civil marriage is not a new concept, and yet your hypothetical pretends it is by coming up with what you pretend is a novel “new” construction of civil unions, ignoring the fact that your hypothetical is actually denigrating the marriages of those who don’t get religious approval.

            If religious groups want to “upgrade” their language, so that marriage is the word for all such unions, blessed or not, and “matrimony” or “covenant” or “snugglecuddlums” is the word they use to signify that religious marriage is, in their eyes, more than secular civil marriage, that’s fine.

            But if I proposed that all marriages between white people retain the word marriage, while all marriages that included one or more non-white people henceforth be called “Colored Unions,” you’d validly interpret the underlying rationale for that as bigotry.

            Doing the same with non-religious marriage, whether you limit that to just same-sex couples or extend it to all non-religious weddings, is no different. It’s bigotry. And while that sort of exclusivity may have a doctrinal place within a religious tradition, as soon as you extend that into civil law and use the government to impose it, you’ve crossed the line.

            If religions want their extra special super-real marriages to have a different word, they need to be the ones who get the new word, they don’t get to demand everyone else downgrade.

            Moving your hypothetical discrimination from same-sex couples to all non-religious couples (and choosing not to address same-sex couples in religious denominations that DO support same-sex marriage) only moves the bar, it doesn’t resolve the issue.

            If you want to make a useful hypothetical to show the absurdity and unacceptability of a two-tiered marriage approach, why not frame it as “only people in purely secular unions are allowed to call it marriage, and anyone who has their wedding blessed by clergy cannot use the term marriage, but is only allowed to call it a “Religious Union.”

            That’s the actual parallel to the Civil Unions discussion.

          • Dan W

            You are right, the two-tiered marriage approach would not be workable. And those opposed to same sex marriage don’t want it, either. Witness all the states who have passed bans against same sex marriage and also banned any contract that provides the benefits of marriage to same sex couples. They claim it’s about the word “marriage” but it really isn’t.

          • http://www.unnameablecuriosity.blogspot.com Christine

            I think, though, that the hypothetical is if the government got out of the business of using the term “marriage”, not that government only allowed religious people to use it. If the government only regulated the term “civil union”, than it follows that the are no legal restrictions on the use of the term “marriage”. Therefore, any non-government group, and any actual couples, would be free to call any ceremony of any kind preformed by groups, religious and not, a “marriage ceremony” and any couple to call their relationship a “marriage”. There would be no way (or, presumably, desire) to give religious groups a monopoly on the term. I’m not sure if this was intended in the hypothetical or not, or just a misunderstanding.

            I think that system would work, as an absolute minimum. But it isn’t ideal. In a liberal democracy, I think the government has a certain obligation to ensure equal opportunity of life, liberty and persuit of happiness for all citizens and to protect against the impact of systemic prejudice on minority group – and extending marriage, term intact, to all people would certainly go a long way to aiding social equality as well. Which means while the hypothetical would fulfill the legal requirement for the government to not descriminate, it loses the extra benefit of helping to protect against descrimination by others.

          • Lynne

            Yes, Lymis, that is where I initially thought Bryan was going when he mentioned the Constitution, because it would appear his model would still be discriminatory, I’m thinking.

            I’ll need to re-read your second message – I didn’t quite follow on my first look.

            I would certainly be in favor of the ‘legal marriage’ to be performed by completing a civil process: a license, and whatever other perfunctory ceremony with a court agent that the government deems necessary. And for those who want a church wedding, go ahead and do that…like a covenant marriage, or matrimony as you call it.

            Everyone who wants the legal rights afforded by marriage would be required to have the civil marriage. The church ceremony would be optional and not recognized by the government. But for those of faith, it is a covenant with God first and foremost, so why would that matter?

          • DR

            The difficulty in this premise is assuming that all Christians *do* have a religious service that recognizes them as being “married” and many don’t. Many just go to the courthouse – they get married – and then in the eyes of their church? They can benefit from the status of being “married” as a covenant before God. This happens everywhere, so the fear many seem to have that we are Christians would somehow be “attacked” and our marriages would be “threatened” could not be further from reality. Most people want zero to do with us at this point as a result of this debate we’re all having right now, where we actually spend time verbally sparring if someone else’s rights are legitimate in the eyes of our God.

            They want to get married.

            They want to raise their kids in peace.

            They want to pay their taxes.

            And they want nothing to do with Christianity.

            They’d prefer to never have to think about us anymore, we *force* them to because we are inserting ourselves in their lives. This is the consequences of even thinking this is something we get to debate.

          • Lynne

            Until the matter is resolved and the marriage rights are granted, I imagine there will continue to be a dialogue – on all levels, not just in the media and candidate’s political platforms, but hopefully personally as well. I have cringed and nearly wept upon hearing a lot of the crap that has been getting out there from some Christians and nearly all conservatives lately. Brown is just the most recent in a disappointing string of very toxic, insensitive, public remarks made by men who should know better or just shut up. (I now carry a puke bag with me at all times.) Yeah, I know, you probably want one now too.

            Respectful dialogue with an effort to try on, if not walk in, the other person’s shoes, is that a bad thing? I hope not. It all comes back to what individuals believe and what they ‘put out there’.

            ******************************************

            DR, you said this…”The difficulty in this premise is assuming that all Christians *do* have a religious service that recognizes them as being “married” and many don’t.”

            So what if they don’t? Who cares? The civil ceremony would be the legal one – for everyone. If a couple (any couple) doesn’t want the church ceremony, then fine. Don’t have one. If a couple (any couple) does want a church ceremony, then fine. Have one. Either way, the civil marriage is the ‘one that counts’ in the legal sense.

            Honestly, I am struggling to see your point, DR. Where exactly is the problem with that model?

            Lymis, can you help me here or have you tuned out?

          • DR

            Because you said in a comment above that your concern is that somehow, the belief that some Christians hold in only wanting men and women to be married would somehow be threatened if gay marriage were legalized. That is – in my opinion – ridiculous. The suggestion that the GLBT community is as malicious as we are in taking away rights, in this case religious rights to believe as one wants, has no factual basis, no one is saying that this belief is illegal. Most want nothing to do with Christians at all and who can blame them? They tolerate us and allow us the illusion that having a “gay friend who totally respects my disdain for their lifestyle” means we’re not homophobic.

            Secondly, your point implies that the religious element of marriage as a sacrament between a man and a woman is what the church really cares about when in fact, if that were true, then all churches would insist a civil marriage be “blessed” by a priest or pastor in order for that couple to be married sacramentally. They don’t. Civil marriage for everyone would be fine of course, no one is arguing that. It’s the other points you’ve made where Christian freedoms are somehow in danger that’s muddying your point (for me).

          • Lynne

            I addressed that ‘paranoia’ elsewhere.

            I still don’t quite follow you – if the people want their marriages blessed by their clergy, why wouldn’t they just go and do that in their church? Are you saying that the clergy would need to be present at the moment of the marriage, in the court? Seems like they could be a little more flexible than that. Who is keeping score on when and where?

          • Elizabeth

            Lynne, I don’t know if this helps. I’m coming in very late to a legalistic conversation. But here goes: there are many, many people who can accept a “civil union” as long as we don’t call it a “gay wedding”. The vast majority of churches won’t perform them under any circumstances. Doesn’t that seem like something an LGBT person of faith would find discriminatory?

          • DR

            I give up. Thanks for the conversation.

      • http://www.thespinningdude.com Bryan Sebeck

        Lynne,

        My apologies for getting your name incorrect in my post. I’m posting from my phone right now and the thread is somewhat difficult to follow, so I misread. Again, my apologies, it was unintended.

      • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

        Jesus is answering a question about straight (usually arranged) marriage. Why would he have addressed same sex marriage for this question? It’s like saying if I write to a cooking maven and ask if I should baste a turkey as I roast it for Christmas dinner and said maven answers and talks about the history of basting turkeys and how to get the best results from your turkey that I have somehow proven, since the maven only talks about turkeys, that she disapproves of ham or goose or roast beef for Christmas dinner. It’s a completely illogical argument.

        • Lynne

          Lyn, no, yours is not a reasoned appraisal of the exchange that took place between the Pharisees and Jesus. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but that is my opinion of your statement.

          To conclude that by not mentioning same-sex relations by name, Christ was somehow leaving that option available, would be a radically misinformed assumption.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            Your argument is that he only mentioned straight marriage, therefore, only straight marriage is allowable. That’s an argument from silence. My argument is NOT that since Jesus didn’t mention it, it’s allowable, but that since Jesus didn’t mention it, we can’t say one way or the other from that specific text. Jesus wasn’t talking about same-sex marriage, so we can’t mangle the text to make it address something it does not address. To make an argument from silence one way or the other is to do a disservice to the word and the Word.

          • Lynne

            Even the most superficial investigation will demonstrate that, and I’ll use your words, “straight marriage” isn’t something that Jesus “only mentioned” as if it were just a selection from his menu of possibilities. (Though, in reality, there was no such thing as homosexual marriage in his day).

            He, in the face of being reminded of mankind’s sin, (and with the way of escape on his lips because of our stubbornness*), pointed us back to THE ideal union, not just AN ideal union. And a step further, the ideal union he speaks of includes the presence of God. We know this because in verse six he said, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.” And we know from Genesis that God shared an intimate, mutual relationship with A & E before the fall.

            Lyn, you said, “My argument is NOT that since Jesus didn’t mention it, it’s allowable, but that since Jesus didn’t mention it, we can’t say one way or the other from that specific text.” I thought that as well at one time. But, it doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny at all, and it doesn’t really take too long to understand that. It just is not logical. Christ didn’t mention abortion – surely you wouldn’t suggest he might approve of killing unborn children, or that his will is unclear, would you?

            If you truly believe your statement above, then you need only use scripture to interpret scripture where you believe Christ’s answer to the Pharisees here is lacking in a demonstration of God’s ideal union. I believe his model is perfectly laid out and I’ve never read any scripture (especially from Christ himself), or studied any serious and scholarly commentary to the contrary.

            The beautiful take-away from his words is that Jesus does not condemn anyone when he leads us back to the ideal. It’s truly a beautiful resolution in all ways (and I believe it is for gays as well, and without giving up what they know is true for themselves). First, he states (re-states from previous scripture) the ideal as one man/one woman – with God. Secondly, he indicates that we fall short of the ideal because of our humanity, our own selfishness, or hard-heartedness Lastly, he mentions that the way out was (is) provided for us. BTW, it appears that whole scenario is like an outline of our relationship to God – kinda cool.

            “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matt 5:17

            ***********************************

            I saw your blog and appreciate how invested you are in this…I am as well. We’re at different places I think, but I hope there is not a wall between us. I am definitely a proponent of love and friendship before and ABOVE theology and politics.

            Regards,

            Lynne

          • Diana A.

            Marrying a member of the opposite sex may well be ideal for a heterosexual but for a gay person, marrying a member of the opposite sex is not merely less than ideal but could be an out and out disaster for all concerned. Rather than trying to shove square pegs into round holes, wouldn’t it be better to accept gay people as they are and encourage them in their committed relationships with their same gendered partners?

          • Dan W

            Heterosexual marriage for a gay man or woamn is not only a disaster, it would be a lie. Jesus never spoke a single word about same-sex relationships, and they aren’t mentioned in the 10 Commandments either, but lying is certainly condemned by Jesus and the 10 Commandments.

          • Lynne

            I agree totally! Its interesting that you would use the ‘square peg/round hole’ analogy, but I can appreciate there might be more than one level of “non-fittedness”. Certainly, homosexuals marrying the opposite sex is a disastrous option for everyone involved.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            He was asked a specific question– “Is it okay for a man to divorce his wife for any old reason he wants?”

            He answered the question by revealing what the ideal relationship between a man and his wife would look like.

            He did not speak about the ideal relationship between a man and his husband, because that wasn’t the question. He did not speak about the ideal relationship between a man and his dog, because that wasn’t the question. He did not speak about the ideal relationship between a corporation and the government, because that wasn’t the question. He answered the bloody question! You cannot, CANNOT derive any commentary about any relationship other than the one he was addressing. Period. End of story.

            The simple fact is, he didn’t address same-sex marriages as we have them today because such relationships didn’t exist at the time.

            As intelligent, thinking beings, we were entrusted with the secret of how to determine if something that didn’t exist in biblical times but does today is sinful or not. Know what it was? 1) Is it unloving toward God? 2) Is it unloving toward other people? / Would I like to be treated this way?

            He trusted us to figure it out for ourselves!

            So, answer the question–

            Is preventing two consenting adults from enjoying the privileges, rights, and responsibilities of civil marriage acting loving or unloving toward God?

            Is preventing two consenting adults from enjoying the privileges, rights, and responsibilities of civil marriage acting loving or unloving toward them? / Would you want someone to tell you that you could not enjoy the privileges, rights, and responsibilities of civil marriage?

          • Lynne

            I hardly know how to continue in our discussion of the Mark passage as we’ve reached an impasse that, for now at least, is insurmountable. Do most of your Christian friends and church leadership share your assessment?

            But as far as the latter part of your message – the questions you asked me, I don’t know if you saw my earlier response to Lymus in this thread, but I am in favor of gays being granted the right to marry. Ideally, it would happen swiftly and on a national level, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

          • http://www.unnameablecuriosity.blogspot.com Christine

            Yeah, Lynne, I think lots of us do see that passage that way. When you first asked your question, it didn’t even occur to me that you were talking about gay marriage. I figured you were talking about how Brown mentioned getting rid of no-fault divorce at the end, because divorce is the only issue that passage is addressing.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            My Christian friends and church leaders represent a wide swath of Christianity. They fall on all sides of the political spectrum, all takes on the inerrancy of and literalist interpretation of scripture, all walks of life, all levels of education, all levels of biblical literacy and theological education. What I’ve found is that 100% of them agree that this passage is speaking to the question of divorce. Only those who are seeking biblical support for their personal rejection of lgbt rights ever think it speaks to the question of same-sex marriage.

          • mike moore

            What is a wide swath, Lyn?

            Because it does not include the majority of Christians – Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, Latter Day Saints, and evangelicals are rabidly anti-gay. Most churches not rabidly anti-gay still take the “love the sinner, hate the sin” approach to the LBGT community.

            If you know-of and/or represent some silent majority, it’s past time for them to speak up.

          • DR

            So when Jesus said “I will make you fishers of all men”, he was leaving out women?

          • Melody

            THIS. I get so sick of people’s selective literalism when it comes to the Bible. If it’s against teh gayz, damn right, the Bible is clear! But when it says “men,” suddenly it’s “understood” to mean men AND women. Logic fail when conservatives try to say Jesus only condones heterosexual marriages. B. S.

          • DR

            Exactly, all I was doing was following Lynne’s logic, which is now “ridiculous”. Funny how that happens! :)

          • Lynne

            Jesus made a habit of including women in his activities. They were part of his travels, his miracles, his ministry and every aspect of his daily life.

            You will be hard pressed to find any serious criticism of the manner in which Jesus treated women. Your statement is beyond ridiculous…

            Agh…I’ll stop here before I …well, before I say another word :)

          • DR

            Lynne, if it’s ridiculous then it actually makes *your* point ridiculous.

          • Lynne

            DR, that was my bad – to use the word ‘ridiculous’. And don’t you hate it when someone sounds smug and then adds a ‘smiley face’? (That puke bag comes in handy when I need a place to put the foot that I sometimes withdraw from my own mouth.)

            I like this site, I’ve only been here a few days, but already I’m being flooded with awesome stories and other useful information. I’m a Christian who is in favor of gays having the right to marry, am I in the wrong place?

            I’ll be the first one to drop the bible from a discussion of marital rights for gays…as John and Lymis already pointed out, there is no place for it in forming public policy. I’ve never been more convinced of that than I am right now.

          • DR

            I think this site is so great and it’s important to have a ton of different views. I don’t think we agree on everything and know that I’ll go after a point pretty doggedly, but in the end we want the same thing.

          • Melody

            Exactly, Lynne. He did include women. Why, therefore, would he, in another passage, be advocating only one form of marriage over any other? That’s what we’re talking about.

    • Lynne

      Amanda, I agree, it was very difficult to follow Brown and especially frustrating toward the end.

      Ric hit the nail on the head – the takeaway from this will be:

      BROWN: No, because you believe something is wrong, doesn’t mean you make it illegal. This is not—

      blah.. blah.. blah

  • Ric Booth

    Best part IMHO:

    BROWN: No, because you believe something is wrong, doesn’t mean you make it illegal. This is not—

    SAVAGE: Then why not—the same policy toward civil gay marriage.

    BROWN: But that is—but again, there’s a misunderstanding here.

    um, ya think?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Ric: You’ve focused on what should be (and I think is becoming?) THE key quote in that whole debate: Brown declaring that just because you believe something is wrong doesn’t mean you should make it illegal. If logic played anywhere near the role it should in this whole debate, that quote, right there, would mean NOM closing its doors forever.

  • Heather

    I saw this two days ago and nearly ripped my face off in frustration. Reading the transcript only made it worse. I keep thinking that any day now, someone will come along and present a worthy, factual, coherent argument for the suppression of marriage equality; that never happens. One of the reasons I find the argument FOR equality to be so painful is because there is no logic, no science, no reason, behind the argument against it. None of it makes sense. I feel like whamming my head into a table every time this issue presents itself. I can only imagine how frustrating it is for the LGBT community. God bless them!!!

  • Alan

    And this is yet another example of why I have always said that debates and arguments have never changed anyone’s mind on anything, ever. If all it took was a good argument and bulletproof evidence to convince someone of something, there would be no overweight physicians who smoke.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      HAR! Truest (if saddest) words ever.

      • Alan

        :)

        • K

          I love it when John says HAR! (also always smile to hear him laugh in podcasts too)

          Hey John,

          You and Dan should have dinner and tape THAT conversation – that would be a good one :-)

          • Alan

            And about 100 gazillion times* more useful than the Brown/Savage charade.

            *plus or minus an order of magnitude.

          • Elizabeth

            FYI, Mr. Shore, you should TOTALLY do this.

  • N

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have to say that though they both spoke over each other at times, this was a very civil discussion.

    Brown comes across as not really wanting to talk about the Bible. In fact, Savage is the one who keeps quoting verses, and all Brown wants to talk about is obscure cases in which churches were somehow harmed. He’s not discussing the Bible, it’s all about the church. I think that’s very telling.

    • Elizabeth

      Agreed. It says something when the pro-family, anti-equal marriage representative can’t find Bible verses to back up his argument.

      • Jill

        I found it so compelling to hear the palpable fear in Brown’s voice when he said something about if ‘your new idea of marriage is coded into the law, it’ll be used to repress, marginalize’ those who think marriage is 1 woman-1 man.

        That was maybe the first time I’d heard a truthful admittance of fear from that side. They usually pretend it away so well.

        And it was incredible the conceit– that gays and lesbians are going to take their soon-to-be legal freedoms and wield it like a weapon to squash the straights like bugs on a windshield, kinda like what the religious right is doing now.

        • Elizabeth

          It was weird to hear the vulnerability in Brian Brown’s voice, wasn’t it? The religious right is frightened. I grew up in that culture, and I would calm their fears if I could.

        • http://www.unnameablecuriosity.blogspot.com Christine

          If that’s how you treat people who’s views you find adhorrent, it’s how you expect others who find your views adhorrent will treat you if they get the chance. They’re afraid of a war of retribution, because winner-takes-all is all they know. They think they’re opponents’ commitment to equaly for all is as hollow as their commitment to the bible and the constitution.

  • AMA

    I know this is off topic-

    About no-fault divorce…I thought it was created to make it easier on the couple getting divorce so that trumped up charges and who knows what dirt did not have to be presented to prove the breakdown of the relationship. I never wanted the divorce that my ex-husband got and all I can say is thank God that we didn’t have to go to court with anything but a legal petition. The whole thing was humiliating and devastating enough to have to go through without airing it in public. It was civil….and we still are. If it had been any harder, I probably would have literally died. I don’t think making divorce harder will stop it. It would just add to the suffering of all going through it.

    As for the debate above, I agree with Ric Booth.

    • http://www.unnameablecuriosity.blogspot.com Christine

      Not to mention that some people would actually start sleeping around just so that their spouses would divorce them…

      • Lymis

        And that plenty of couples who would otherwise have had an amicable divorce were forced into staging an extramarital affair specifically so that divorce was an option.

  • textjunkie

    Thanks for the transcript! For those who read faster than people can talk, being able to read this rather than listen to it does minimize the time spent rolling eyes and shaking heads. ;)

    But my goodness, yes, that IS the key quote. There are several points of agreement, through out that–1) we change our understanding of the Bible and emphasis on particular interpretations with time, and 2) just because you think something is wrong doesn’t mean you absolutely have to fight to make it illegal.

    As someone else said: game, set, match.

  • Mike Little via Facebook

    Logic just doesn’t apply with Brown. What he doesn’t get is that the attitudes towards LGBTQ people will change…in the same ways it did with Slavery…and plenty of scripture can back it. I’m at the place I think the federal
    Govnt should be out of the marriage business all together. Have civil “unions” granted by the govnt that apply to everyone. Each person can have one “partner” that is given next of kin status. Then, let churches handle the marriage ceremonies and define it as their conscious allows.

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      I so wanted Brown to just answer question “Is there any kind of evidence that would change your mind” honestly with “No.”

      This is the problem with those who only have their religious upbringing and beliefs to back them up. I used to be one of those. You know that what you truly believe will just sound like crap to a normal, logical person. The stammering and dancing around a subject is a desperate attempt to color “beliefs” as “fact.” And it only succeeds in making you look and feel like you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

        Oops. I meant to post this as a unique post, not a reply to a comment. Sorry if that’s confusing!

      • Jill

        so true Nicole. I relate. And I know I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about, but I sure did say a lot anyway.

        I hope that kind of inner disparity continues to prod peoples’ hearts so they face their own deception.

    • Robert

      I’ve been saying this for years- it makes sense to me, especially in a society where church and state are (supposed) to be separate. Civil Unions for all- if you want to get married in a church- have fun, but it has no legal standing.

      While it makes sense, it’s probably harder to accomplish given the need to hang on to “tradition.”

      • Lymis

        The point is that what you’re proposing is exactly what is going on now. The only thing that confuses it is that the same word is used for both.

        Religious ceremonies don’t grant any legal standing now. A priest, rabbi, minister, or high priestess can do whatever ceremony they want, and people can swear whatever oaths they want before God, but until someone who is recognized by the state files the required paperwork with the state, ain’t nobody married. Even the few states that recognize common-law marriage don’t base that on having a religious ceremony, and most of them are changing the laws because of the risk that it might legitimate same sex marriages..

        I wish that people would understand this. The religious ceremony may be a sacrament, but it isn’t civilly valid until the same paperwork is done that is involved in a purely secular wedding.

        People who propose this think they are proposing some novel change. They aren’t. It’s how things work today.

  • Tim

    Interesting. Just Interesting. There is a lot that this reduces to–for Brown it is a matter of definition and first principles that cannot be allowed to change. That is unfortunate, because it shows that one side has only its emotions, feelings, and vague tradition to guide it, while the other has emotions/feelings and logic/progress. For Dan Savage this is about results and goods for real people, for Brown about a holy, untouchable ideal we’ve never lived up to. We will never satisfy people like him, as his response to the Popper test says (about the only person whom I understood in Epistemology class).

    • Lymis

      It also means that when the generation that has those feelings dies off, the generations that were raised without those feelings won’t see the issue.

  • http://www.exilemusings.blog.com Amaranth

    The problem I see is that Brown seems to think that everyone else’s opinions are opinions, but HIS opinions are Indisputable Fact.

    He thinks his beliefs are Just The Way The Universe Works, and therefore any other view on the matter is more or less a moot point.

    When someone comes to the table with that premise, there can be no discussion.

    • Elizabeth

      Brown was a cocky SOB, no question. He *was* civil, at least, which is more than Pat Robertson can manage.

  • Matt

    Thank you to the gracious person who transcribed this. Being so visual, it drains my strength less to read it, though regardless it’s exhausting.

    I couldn’t help but sigh at his bringing up the shooting. When I heard about it I was glad nobody was killed, but also devastated because you just KNOW they (FRC, NOM and others) will harp on about it for years as proof that they’re innocent white knights of truth.

    Brown’s constant use of “traditional” which to my ears seems like it’s synonymous with “better” “right” “normal” to him, that was irritating to me. I’m not going to listen to anyone who uses weasel words like that, I don’t care who they are.

    When he got into “male and female” I just had to roll my eyes. I amuse myself sometimes just imagining Mr. Brown being opened up to the world of transgendered people, who I’m sure are not even on his radar right now. For some reason I can’t put my finger on, it makes me grin to myself like nothing else.

    • Diana A.

      He probably thinks being transgendered is a choice tooand has no ability whatsoever to comprehend those who are intersexed.

      • Matt

        Which is why the image of him spending a Friday night out with my partner and I just makes me feel all tingly inside! :D

        (And by out, I mean in. We cuddle on Fridays.)

    • Jill

      Matt– if Mr. Brown would one day find himself in a room full of transgendered people, I personally think he’d nervously–and loudly– laugh himself into a coma.

      How many times I turned away from the screen, saying to myself, “awkward”!

  • Dan W

    Mr Brown’s argument boils down to “men and women can have babies and that’s what marriage is for.” The fact is that gay people are forming families and raising children already, and we aren’t going to stop. So the real question that affects families is should there be legal protections for those families, especially the children? The argument about the redefinition of marriage irks me no end. Which is more important, the definition of a word or real people’s lives?

    • David Colbourn

      The words used are very important since they define the protections but what words only have one defination? Mr Brown’s point seemed to be more in line with the religious use of the word rather then the legal.

  • Will

    Brian Brown lies. Brian Brown is a liar.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lie

    noun

    1. a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

    2. something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture: His flashy car was a lie that deceived no one.

    3. an inaccurate or false statement.

    4. the charge or accusation of lying: He flung the lie back at his accusers.

    verb (used without object)

    5. to speak falsely or utter untruth knowingly, as with intent to deceive.

    6. to express what is false; convey a false impression.

    Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary – Lie definition

    an intentional violation of the truth. Lies are emphatically condemned in Scripture (John 8:44; 1 Tim. 1:9, 10; Rev. 21:27; 22:15). Mention is made of the lies told by good men, as by Abraham (Gen. 12:12, 13; 20:2), Isaac (26:7), and Jacob (27:24); also by the Hebrew midwives (Ex. 1:15-19), by Michal (1 Sam. 19:14), and by David (1 Sam. 20:6). (See ANANIAS.)

    thesaurus.com/browse/lie

    Definition: untruth

    Synonyms: aspersion, backbiting, calumniation, calumny, deceit, deception, defamation, detraction, dishonesty, disinformation, distortion, evasion, fable, fabrication, falsehood, falseness, falsification, falsity, fib, fiction, forgery, fraudulence, guile, hyperbole, inaccuracy, invention, libel, mendacity, misrepresentation, misstatement, myth, obloquy, perjury, prevarication, revilement, reviling, slander, subterfuge, tale, tall story, vilification, white lie, whopper

    Brian Brown is full of bull@#$%.

  • otter

    Just proves that you should never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it. Nice try Dan…..especially liked your slavery references. Keep fighting the good fight and don’t let the pigsty get you too dirty…

  • Oz in OK

    Brown’s responses are typical – drop multiple illogic bombs in rapid succession and hope you’re going too fast for your opponent to keep up. Dan Savage, however, was excellent that he consistently called Brown out on multiple issues – issues that Brown had no concrete answer for, and simply kept going in circles… again, hoping that Savage wouldn’t be able to keep up. The more Savage pressed him, the more flustered he became – since he (like so many others) are used to speaking into a right-wing ‘bubble’ where no dissent is expected, Brown’s actual debating skills have atrophied considerably.

    I have to say that Dan Savage did an AMAZING job here. We all know that too many will simply stick their fingers in their ears and yell ‘La la la la!! I’m not listening! I’m not listening!’ but that’s a burden on THEM, not on US.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson via Facebook

    thank you! i so hate having to sit through long videos.

    • njt

      DITTO

  • mike moore

    Thank god for people like Dan Savage … I wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in that room.

    • Elizabeth

      I would have stabbed him with a fork. Savage’s self-control is unbelievable.

      • Matt

        He makes a living doing this. He’s heard variations of the same thing so much that he can detach himself from most of the knee-jerk anger. Simple constant exposure. I’d argue every LGBT person picks up some of this on their journey. You even learn to laugh because without anger, it can be utterly hilarious.

        • Elizabeth

          Right. LGBT people encounter this mindset every day. One learns to laugh. I just… don’t. I don’t go on a date without my gay BFF’s wardrobe approval, and I’m tired of laughing as teenagers — our age when we met — kill themselves.

  • http://castlerockbear.tumblr.com Keith Walsh

    I’m glad I got to read this, I watched the video and surprised (sorta) at how well Brian Brown twisted the truth to suit himself..Now I can read the distortion in print!

    I have always thought that members of NOM and Mister Brown are misguided by the narrow minded thoughts that they have let stagnate in their heads! Progressive thinking can not flourish in a closed mind, because it has unaccepted any thought outside of the bubble!

    Progressive thinking is not condemning, but allowing oneself to be open to possibilities!

    Mr. Brown’s ideologies will soon be a part of the past that they belong in, and not intruding on the future by demanding that we forget love in order to spread misinterpretation and misguided thought!

    • Lymis

      Honestly, I’ve never gotten the feeling that Brown believes a word of it. I’ve met people who do, but he always comes across as an opportunist first, a politician second, and a believer a far distant third.

  • Zach Powers via Facebook

    Can you offer it as a PDF?

  • Jill

    I’d for one love to know what was said before and after the filming took place. As Dan said, he was only just getting started…

  • Jason

    I wish Dan would have focused more on the legal arguments that support gay marriage instead of focusing so much on religion. I realize that this was set up to be a religious debate, but it’s incredibly difficult to convince a religious zealot that their beliefs are wrong. Focusing on civil law would have torpedoed much of Brown’s argument and forced him to argue that Christian dogma should be the law of the land when clearly that can’t happen.

    • Lymis

      I think Dan has far much more compelling arguments in the legal and civil parts of things, but the actual invitation by Brian Brown was specifically to debate the religious parts of the question. Dan hosted the evening in his own home, but it was in response to Brown’s challenge to debate Christianity. Leaving the religious aspects out of the equation would have done two things – it would have been a bait and switch tactic, because of the nature of the challenge, and it would have done something else far more pernicious – it would have tacitly been an agreement that the only religious views on the matter are anti-gay, and that religious people and religious views have nothing pro-equality to add to the debate.

      That’s what Brown and NOM clearly want, and that’s how they constantly frame things – that it is gays and liberals “against” Christians, as though there are no gay or liberal Christians and as though all Christians are anti-gay.

      I’m glad Dan did keep the religion in this – while at the same time constantly reaffirming that it isn’t religion that should be the final arbiter of civil equality.

  • Tim

    I’ve been thinking–anyone know where one can find that anti-polygamy study that Dan was referencing on why Gay Marriage will not lead to polygamy? Also, is anyone interested in me going and finding (I have a good idea where to) a Popper text on falsifiability–especially considering that Brown completely rejects that basic premise of logic?

  • http://www.facebook.com/blake.parker.5494 Blake Parker via Facebook

    Cool. I like the part where Brown changes his stance on whether marriage is about kids depending on the point he’s making.

  • OKCORRAL

    [Ignorant mini-spew deleted.]

    • Diana A.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

      Actually it’s Savage’s, not “Savages” and it isn’t so much vulgar as it is frank. Maybe you don’t appreciate his willingness to speak plainly about what people do in the privacy of their own homes.

    • OKCORRAL

      [troll snark deleted]

      • DR

        Don’t be ridiculous, you are throwing a massive temper tantrum because your abusive, evil behavior isn’t tolerated here. Grow up.

    • DR

      Thank you, scary!

  • Luckylu

    It’s quite ironic that Brown continuously speaks of logic. Through logic one can arrive at any number of conclusions. If he had presented a *logical* argument he could have defended his perspective. However, he consistently stated how Savage is simply “wrong” (even though his logic was sound), and then continued to support his own argument with a barrage of statements that start out with opinion words “I think,” “I believe,” etc. Not a very strong argument. He’s on the losing side of the battle anyway.

    I was disappointed that there wasn’t further discussion on the fact that marriage *has* changed significantly from a property/alliance transaction to what it is today. Why *can’t* we change the definition of marriage again to adapt to the very foundation and reason that brought about an American revolution? As Aquinas put it, and as Brown so stated, equal rights and protection under the law is our culture, and laws [that do no harm] have to fit with certain cultures.

  • David Colbourn

    Well if you redefine marriage why not redefine minority too. Behaviors are not and cannot be the foundation of equal rights issues. Wow what a can of worms that would be. Think people! Any time you alter the definition of a word epically in law you create un intended consequences.

    Culture debates are good and have altered the laws and moral views over time. Unless you are a snake handler, you probably don’t take the bible literally. Laws and morals have always restricted behavior that is nothing new, and it is not bigotry. But even laws, and morals change. The question is how fast and in what direction.

    The direction needs to take into account the guiding principal of the greatest commandment. Any deep rabbit whole argument that goes against that is simply wrong. However, outrageousness and bad behavior and labeling others sells even if it short circuit’s deeper thinking. Folks is this what we want?

    The speed of that change goes to the slippery slope argument. As a data architect I can tell you all words travel with connotations of definitions and altering those definitions will need to adjust processes that use that data. Saying the question now becomes who changed the definition or a connotation of marriage is irrelevant since both sides can say that was my connotation. Both sides are discriminating by clarifying their definition so lets forget throwing that label around. The age of the term “marriage” being inherited and older in religious terms then in legal terms doesn’t negate the other system of governance. It just pre dates it.

    We have two systems governance legal or what I equate the departmental and religious, which I equate to corporate. Corporations also have two governance bodies and definitions for common terms. The question is what you are optimizing for. It seems legal marriage and religious marriage has inseparably split and that is a recent development. Either way you need to make a decision as to who you are going to be and choice exists and that has always been the case.

    • mike moore

      dude, I think you you need to drink less coffee.

      • Elizabeth

        A cocktail usually balances out the OCD of the coffee-drinkers.

    • Lynne

      David – the problem with your argument, (at least in part, because I don’t know how it relates to some of the other points you were making about language later on), is seen in your second sentence:

      “Behaviors are not and cannot be the foundation of equal rights issues.”

      Let me preface what I am about to say by telling you that a few years ago, I thought the very same thing. However, the gay rights involved here go so far and beyond a discussion of “behaviors”, that it relegates, at least that one statement you made, entirely false and utterly useless. Time and space here are not adequate to illuminate this and there are others better equipped to address that anyway.

      Have you read the testimony and letter in this blog from Fang-yi, the Tiwanese lesbian? Or, check out Matthew Vines here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezQjNJUSraY With Matthew, I personally think are significant problems from a theological standpoint, but damn, you cannot NOT be moved by his heart, his plea, and his discussion of what it means to be loved vs. being lonely and heartbroken.

      It will be difficult to listen to that testimony (or Fang-yi’s among the thousands of others out there) without immediately discarding your statement above and exchanging it for a more honest, appropriate and compassionate understanding that these folks are experiencing deep, satisfying relationships just as we are, except without the freedom to do so. Do you know what I mean?

      You seem a very intelligent and caring person, so I hope you will consider putting some faces in the equation, people’s stories. It matters. And don’t stop asking the questions and getting the answers. I know I’m not.

      • David S

        Lynne,

        I’m pretty sure you and I are in different places theologically regarding the sinfulness of gay relationships. I applaud you for seeking to understand me and others like me. Thank you for seeing me as human. Thank you for not dismissing out of hand something that is essential to who God created me to be.

        Yes, please keep asking questions and searching for answers. It took a long time for me to be able to reconcile my faith with my sexuality. Ultimately, I began to understand that, in order to experience the fullness of life that God intends for us all, I could no longer reject His gift of sexuality. Ultimately, in my experience, the forest of the gospel won out over the trees of a few bible verses.

        • http://www.unnameablecuriosity.blogspot.com Christine

          I would see the “forest” as Jesus’ summation of the law and the prophets – of loving God and others. In that forest, the clobber passages and a flawed notion of complementarity (when there is no longer “male and female”) are only a very few sparse and stunted trees, indeed.

        • Lynne

          David S,

          I am so excited about connecting to gay Christians that I think my head is about to explode! Gay Christians must be among the most forgiving people on God’s green earth, (providing you live to survive your adolescence and teen years that is). How sick and tragic is that? I’m with you, I am reluctant to ‘hang my hat’ on any handful of scriptures, especially such inflaming, controversial ones, without the full counsel of the Holy Spirit within me and the full breadth and magnificence of the entirety (forest) of God’s word.

          “Ultimately, I began to understand that, in order to experience the fullness of life that God intends for us all, I could no longer reject His gift of sexuality.”

          Beautifully spoken. I could delete that last part and fill in the blank in my own way, which I will be doing and right soon! How did I not see all of this before? Why did it take 23 years to mete it all out? All in God’s time, I suppose, all in God’s time. (That sounds better than, “Jane, you ignorant slug!”)

          I am hearing testimony from people like yourself, Fang-yi, Matthew Vines and so many others who say they are gay and Christian and give me no reason to believe otherwise! Praise God! They love the Lord and the word as do I. The only thing that would ever give me pause would be if someone avoided a true relationship with God and only used ‘the words’ of ‘The Word’ to justify their conclusions, then shelved the bible for ‘no further use’ until necessary to justify those conclusions, then shelved the bible until…well, you get the idea. :)

          Even one of my heroes in this discussion (on a public front), Alan Chambers, has recently shared some of the most amazing, gay-supporting sentiments I’ve ever heard from him. I have enjoyed his newsletters and books for years. It is evident he has a tremendous heart for gays and for the Lord. I need to put my finger on some of those quotes and share them with my friends.

          As for gays who are not Christian, wow, given what you’re going through…why would you want to be? We couldn’t be standing more in the way between you and Jesus than if we were all knelt down, twenty paces in front of you with guns pointed at your heads. AGHHGHHHHH!!!!!!! (exit left for puke bag break)

          I’m so sorry. It sounds pitifully inadequate, but I don’t know what else to say right now.

          Lynne

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Well, there’s now way for me not to say this: In this book are about 30 of the most compelling/heartbreaking/inspiring/difficult testimonies from gay Christians you’ll ever read. (And right now the book is only $2.99 on Kindle.) I collected and edited these letters so that no one would ever again be able to claim it impossible to be both gay and Christian.

          • Lynne

            Thank you, got it!

            And the Penguin book? Roflmao so far with Mickey!

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Oh, I’m sorry: I didn’t know you … knew I wrote books, basically. But duh: yeah, cool. Thank you. (fwiw, I love the God-Micky dialogue. It was once turned into a one-act play that was performed at the San Diego Repertory Theater. I loved watching it go through rehearsals and all that. Happily, the audience loved it.)

            Penguins! Man, I love that book. And I pretty much never say that about anything I write. But that book just … arrived, perfectly formed. Anyway, thanks for the buys, Lynne.

          • DR

            It’s all a process. xoxo

          • Todd Rogers

            Lynne, this gay man believes you are now his hero! :)

            God bless you and yours! I wish more thought as you.

          • https://www.facebook.com/lynne.k.everest Lynne

            Sweeeet! I don’t think I’ve ever been anyone’s hero!

            And God Bless you and yours as well!

      • DR

        Lynne, I’m getting confused. Do you believe that being gay is sinful or not?

        • Lynne

          I certainly do NOT think that being a homosexual is sinful. But…its complicated (at least for me, at this moment). I can tell you this – my head is really spinning a bit, brain cells are dying and new ones are being born at a rate that is unusual for this rather sedentary, sixty-year-old church lady!

          I don’t think agreement theologically is necessary for the rights to marry, (Brown really cemented that himself with his infamous divorce statement during the Savage debate: “No, because you believe something is wrong, doesn’t mean you make it illegal”. Changing my mind and my vote (when possible), will help me help gays accomplish the goal of equal rights, but I will always be kept at arm’s length in the LGBT community. I really hate that. And the reason for their distance is because I will always maintain that God’s ideal union did not include anything outside a lifelong, completely monogamous, one-time marriage between a man and a woman…with the presence of God. Again, an ideal that about 99% of the world’s population, has not, will not achieve. So, I will be tolerated and/or despised by especially radical and unsaved homosexuals; tolerated with great sadness and/or with unconditional, unmerited love by Christian homosexuals like David; and finally and most scary for me, I will be thoroughly and vehemently admonished, but still loved unconditionally by Christian straights (because they have to – neener neener neener).

          It’s gonna be a no win for me, but that’s my problem. We’ll see. But the ‘me’ part of the equation is infinitely less important than what is important right now -helping gays get those rights, and what is important ultimately – winning folks to the kingdom of God. Unfortunately, I can’t do the former with my vote on the national level, but ONLY because fighting against killing unborn children trumps the other for me. But I’m confident God will put me on a tack that will still be of some help. He is truly amazing!

          ********************************

          Listen, here is the bottom line right now, at least for me as a non-denominational, evangelical Christian:

          Christians,

          We absolutely MUST START TRUSTING WHAT GAYS ARE SAYING ABOUT THEMSELVES and stop telling them that it is not true, that it is not right, that it is not good! GOD KNOWS – that is so wrong for us to do!

          Can we trust God to lead us to all truth, (ALL of us who WILL be and ARE BEING led by Him), in His time …AND in our time with Him? Let them have that time with GOD.

          Do we need to abandon what we believe is true in the word of God as it relates to unions outside the Garden of Eden? Certainly not!

          Does that mean that homosexual Christians are suddenly going to be transformed into heterosexuals (ludicrous), or embrace celibacy (unnecessary cruelty).

          Does that mean homosexuals will continue in their unions? Maybe. Probably. Likely. Yes, unless through their communion with God, something else happens. (Don’t ask me, “What else will happen?” I don’t know and until someone tells me, it’s really none of my business.)

          Does that mean they are going to hell? Impossible for saved Christians to go to hell, but unsaved homosexuals will suffer the same fate that other unbelievers will.

          Who the heck are you, Lynne, to ask the questions and answer them too? Nobody special, just a Jane Doe with my own opinion like everybody else. (bag break as I realize that, indeed, I am a pontificating windbag, desperately trying to hide that fact with humor and self-deprecation. Oh well…gag, stagger, puke, repeat)

          AND PLEASE HEAR THIS – for all those reasons I just stated above is all we need to understand that gays should be afforded all legal rights in marriage. Because frankly, anyone who is not a Christian (and there are like millions upon millions in this country) thinks we are absolutely nuts or worse – dangerous monsters. Right? Why do we get to “have all the say”? That would be peachy, but can that really happen in this present age? Did you ever think that this could be part of the end days? And if all our fears come true, then we will become a fervent, devoted remnant, a bride readied for her bridegroom, in these times, and the wheat will be separated from the tares?

          (Secret note to gays – there is a tack for you, convince Christians that they would be helping to usher in the second coming of Christ, because, lol, GOD KNOWS, every generation is convinced it is THE generation!)

          (Double-secret note to Christians – Praise God! “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” Philippians 2:10)

          Whoa – talk about cutting down on the caffeine!

          **********************************

          Does God expect us to kill someone into the kingdom? Impossible! Did brow-beating, finger-pointing or bible-thumping win you over? Not likely.

          We need to start listening.

          We need to start listening to people, their stories. It matters. It will help.

          We need to love unconditionally, as God loves us.

          We need to stop saying trash like “if it was cancer, wouldn’t you want the cure? That’s all I’m saying dear beloved friend that I really really love. Here, take the cure for that dreadful thing that you do that God really hates, but he really really loves you so much. Really, really…so so much”. (‘scuse me, one last puke bag break, they’re made out of Westboro Church programs, so I only have like about 12 left, cuz you know, no one goes there.)

          Serious my friends, how’s all that crap working out for us?

          • n.

            So much change! You make me remember how exhilarating it was when my mind was changing about these things just a few years ago.

            I know it’s a lot to process, but please consider that you might have been just as brainwashed about “pro-life” by the church as you were about gays. There are insightful posts about that issue in this blog, too (can’t search right now but there’s one article about a christian woman who had an abortion years ago and was having trouble believing God forgives her)….

            Having been pro-life for decades, i can’t now identify that sentiment with a party whose leaders are only pro-birth. They are ok with war, starving children of poor families, homelessness, bullying kids to suicide, all kinds of inequality from economic to civil rights, people dying because they can’t access healthcare or preventative care, etc. That’s not pro-life in my opinion.

            Sorry to talk about political parties here, i know we’re not really supposed to do that (?) but it seemed to apply.

      • http://www.unnameablecuriosity.blogspot.com Christine

        Indeed, the sentence you identify is the basis of his entire argument, and it is a premise that is utterly flawed.

    • Dan W

      Dismissing sexuality as “behaviors” is uninformed and thoughtless. I am a gay man whether I am indulging in any of those behaviors or not. I knew I was gay years before I ever acted on those desires. I am gay because I desire another man romantically and sexually, not because of any sex act I may or may not perform. If I so chose, I could be 100% celibate, and yet I would still be a gay man.

    • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

      Behaviors are not and cannot be the foundation of equal rights issues.

      By that logic, we should get rid of any protections based on religion. After all, that’s a chosen behavior. Right?

  • Josh DeLapp

    Dan hits upon an argument that I have had, and that Brown completely overlooks (whether it is intentional or not): Unjust legal discrimination remains unjust and discriminatory, regardless of the basis of the discrimination. Brown denies this without disproving it.

    I’ll try to break it down simply here:

    A person who is homosexual either is attracted to the same sex due to geneticbiological factors, or chooses to be that way (the reason behind the choice is irrelevant). That covers the realistic possibilities here.

    Let us first assume that it biological.

    Can a church, or other religious organization, deny a marriage to a couple because the couple are of two separate races, because that particular faith believes such unions are invalid or wrong?

    No, they cannot. That is legal discrimination.

    Now let’s assume that it is a choice.

    Can a church, or other religious organization, deny a marriage to a couple because the couple are of two different faiths, or a member of a faith that the marrying church finds undesirable due to its religious tenets?

    In some cases, yes, but those exceptions are just that – exceptions that only apply to that particular church (and then only due to long-standing precedence), not to the overall institution.

    Brown quickly shies away from this particular point of the argument by simply dismissing such situations as “discrimination” while failing to explain why THEY are discriminatory, and such actions against homosexuals are NOT.

    Overall, Brown repeated his opinion over and over again, without backing up his opinion with anything resembling evidence or logic. And when it came right down to it, he proved exactly WHY the LGBT community is justified in referring to him as a bigot (defined as “a person who is utterly intolerant of a differing creed, belief, or opinion”) because even when presented with a hypothetical situation wherein he was shown conclusively to be in the wrong, he would refuse to change his opinion.

    • Todd Rogers

      Brown’s bigotry had me screaming at the monitor!!

      Did you notice wh0 took this “dinner table debate” seriously and who didn’t? Dan Savage had the full side of the table. Notes, exerpts of books, the Bible, imperical reviews and studies and such to form the basis of logic for his side of the argument, and Brian Brown didn’t have ANYTHING but a pad of paper.

      What that means is that Mr. Brown, who called Mr. Savage out (I guarantee you Mr. Brown must have been surprised when Mr. Savage accepted and offered his own home for the debate), was already set in his own mind of his position, and evidence be damned, he was not going to sway from his argument, nor was he going to entertain any alternate reality wherein he’d find the opposition to his entire belief system to be the law of the land; and that is why we rightfully call this Mr. Brown, a bigot.

      Since Mr. Brown wouldn’t go along and answer Mr. Oppenheimer’s “marriage regime in an ideal world” question, I offer MY marriage regime in an ideal world.

      1) At its most fundamental level, it would be that we are all born as we are born and that is the foundational framework for what our perceptions, opinions and standards for our lives are based and built upon.

      We would have men and women whom were born what society terms as heterosexual on one side, and on the other side, men and women whom were born what society terms as homosexual.

      The heterosexual male/female would grow in their own ways as all do through those all important formative years; lessons which build one upon the other until all the institutional and life lessons have been taught and said heterosexual male/female are unleashed upon the world free to build whatever lives they wish with whom they wish.

      To marry their partner in life, having that Union sanctified and recognized before God and family and friends.

      To have children, and to have the freedom to teach their children, each, father and mother to child(ren) in the manners consistent with the parent’s own upbringing, values and morality.

      2) The homosexual male/female, too, would grow in their own ways in much the same manner as their heterosexual counterparts, until all their institutional and life lessons have been taught and said homosexual male/female are unleashed upon the world free to build whatever lives they wish with whom they wish.

      That THEY TOO marry their partner in life, having that Union sanctified and recognized before God and family and friends.

      To have children, and to have the freedom to teach their children, each, father/father/mother and mother/mother/father to child(ren) in the manners consistent with the parent’s own upbringing, values and morality.

      And no matter where they stand sexually, that each man and/or woman defend each other’s right to live and love as they see fit to the death, even if that right is fundamentally opposed to how they were born.

      THAT is what my ideal marriage scenario would play out in an IDEAL world.

      It’s just too bad there are people in this world like Brian Brown, whom likely believes that were he to change his views, he’d be without his power base and with it its nice paycheck, and perhaps that is the fear which drives him more than anything.

      It is an absolute blessing that we have people like Dan Savage in this world, who doesn’t see discrimination as acceptable and is not willing to let double standards be the law of the land without standing up and being counted.

      He is not content with believing that which be believes just because it’s popular or unpopular, but because what is right and just, and because he and his example embodies the spirit of the differences that makes us all unique, celebrating those differences rather than putting them down.

      Bravo to you, Dan, for so effortlessly showing us the better path, and for exposing the bigots.

      And Bravo to you, Mr. Shore, for being one of those rare voices for equality this world so desperately needs.

      I pray for the day when some version of my marriage regime in an ideal world is the norm rather than the exception.


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