My Response to Dan Savage’s Accusations about The Marin Foundation in the New York Times

My Response to Dan Savage’s Accusations about The Marin Foundation in the New York Times April 14, 2013

Do these look the same?

I’m a married gay dad and father of two. I’m also a liberal UCC Christian who has struggled over the years with getting to know and love (or at least coexist) with people who disagree with people like me in the Church, as well as families like mine. I’m also a loyal fan of Dan Savage and his weekly “Savage Love” podcasts, as well as a longtime friend of Andrew Marin. I read Dan’s recent comments about Andrew and The Marin Foundation in his review of Does Jesus Really Love Me? and was puzzled by him characterizing The Marin Foundation as “Westboro Baptist in the drag of false contrition: God hates you – now with hugs!”

I have known Andrew and the others at The Marin Foundation for roughly five years. I’ve broken bread with them. I’ve attended Andrew’s 30th birthday in 2010. He and his wife attended my 2010 wedding ceremony. Last summer my family stayed with Andrew and his wife Brenda in their apartment while vacationing in Chicago. I can honestly say that Andrew, Brenda, and the others at The Marin Foundation have always been gracious and loving towards me, my husband, and our sons. They have never challenged our understanding of our faith. They have never questioned my identity as an out gay Christian, nor have they ever promoted, urged, or nudged any of us towards anything hinting at anti-gay or ex-gay groups or beliefs. They have accepted us and love us exactly where we are and how we are. 100%.

It’s ironic that Dan brought up the one comment that Andrew made at a Christian youth leadership conference where he essentially encouraged those youth leaders to urge LGBT teens to put off coming out. It’s ironic because I’ve heard Dan give the same advice – with slightly different words and reasons. But both men recognize that it’s not always safe for LGBT teens to come out in certain communities. Sometimes it’s best to wait until you’re done with school and into adulthood.

The Marin Foundation isn’t about being gay or pro-gay or anti-gay or ex-gay or even pro-Christian. It’s about connecting with people who don’t agree with you in that tension-filled area where faith and sexuality intersect and learning how to understand each other a bit more effectively. It’s a different approach and I get that others struggle with it, but I’m really glad that I let go of my initial skepticism of The Marin Foundation and allowed myself to re-think my role in our never-ending culture war.

-Jon Trouten in Iowa City, IA

On Friday I (Andrew) was made aware that in Dan Savage’s review of Jeff Chu’s new book, which I learned the review will be on the front page of The New York Time’s Book Review section today, Sunday April 14th, Savage had some pretty intense opinions about myself and the work of The Marin Foundation. On the concluding page of the review, Savage says:

He [Chu] gives an approving nod to the sneakily homophobic Marin Foundation, an evangelical group that shows up at gay pride parades holding signs that say, “We’re sorry!” and offering hugs to paradegoers who have been harmed by religion. But Andrew Marin, the group’s founder and public face, has urged his followers to target Christian teenagers struggling with “same-sex attraction” because they’re easier to talk out of being gay. Marin has refused to say that gay sex isn’t a sin, and he seems to believe that gay people can change their sexual orientation. The more you learn about the Marin Foundation, the more it looks like Westboro Baptist in the drag of false contrition: God hates you — now with hugs! Chu blasts M.C.C., but Marin gets a pass.

In lieu of these accusations, I would like to offer a few thoughts.

I want to genuinely thank Dan Savage for writing about The Marin Foundation in such a significant media outlet. Though I don’t agree with anything he said about me, or The Marin Foundation, this is a unique situation to have to respond to something written in The New York Times.

Dan and I have two completely different philosophical approaches to social change; both with the same goal–that everyone, regardless of orientation, gender, race, color, creed or religious affiliation (or not), will be able to live safe, loved, dignified and cherished lives. I feel the crossroad lies in the view of what is deemed as an “acceptable medium of engagement.” This is not a new debate throughout the world’s history. Two of the more well known examples:

Martin Luther King Jr. believed that the only way for sustainable, structural societal change to happen was to build bridges between the oppressive white folks and his African-American community. And although later in life Malcolm X’s framework for social change began to align more with MLK, the majority of his public rhetoric was strongly advocating for the necessity of African-American’s to overthrow the oppressive white “devil” and implement the same system of oppression upon whites as they had done to his people for centuries.

Nelson Mandela believed that the only way for sustainable, structural societal change to happen was to build bridges between the oppressive white Afrikaners and his black African community. His wife, Winnie, is famously noted for completely disagreeing with him. And during the intense years of apartheid, she strongly advocated for an overthrown white Afrikaner government where black Africans could then implement the same system of oppression whites had done to her people for centuries.

In neither of these examples am I suggesting a comparison between the American Civil Rights movement, the South African Apartheid and the modern LGBT equality struggle. I am rather viewing these examples through a lens of cultural engagement. I am also not saying that I am MLK or Mandela, and that Savage is Malcolm X or Mandela’s wife. But what I am saying is that for centuries culture wars and societal disconnects are perpetuated by these same two ideologies–both of which have their movement’s leaders and followers passionately believing their medium of engagement as the best way forward, thus causing many public disagreements.

As Rob Bell says in his new book, revenge only escalates the situation. I firmly believe with everything that I am, stand for and will keep working towards, that peaceful and productive engagement between opposing worldviews cannot happen through a revenge-based orientation from conservatives or from the LGBT community. It can only happen when we start practicing an actual ethic of inclusion that seeks reconciliation–not something that seeks to only overthrow one oppressive system with another.

And when I say “actual ethic of inclusion” I am referencing inclusion’s real definition: Including all, everyone. Inclusion cannot be defined as “including only the people I choose to include.” That is called segregation. This goes for what progressives are doing to conservatives today, the same as white straight males did (and some legitimately continue to argue, they still do) to every person who was not a white straight male in much of the world’s history. This is the reason why The Marin Foundation and I believe our work is to bring together non-faith LGBTs, LGBT Christians in partnerships and those who choose to be celibate, professing ex-gay people, progressive and conservative straight Christians and non-faith straight people and mix it up in one big holy uncomfortableness. Every stereotype can be broken with a face, and every face has a story.

It has been sociologically, diplomatically and anthropologically proven that sustainable cultural shifts can only happen when the oppressors and the oppressed are an equal part of the shift. If only one population dictates the shift, a change might indeed happen in the short term, but it will only rally the base of the “losers” to fight even harder to overthrow the new population in power. And thus, the cycle continues.

I do not see that as a plausible outcome for future generations. And so I continue committing myself to building bridges between both of the groups inhabiting the opposing worldviews; and that includes the very intentional simultaneous partnering with each side to see such a shift happen. What is overly-encouraging to me is the variety of both progressive and conservative individuals, families, churches, universities, community centers and government agencies who are committing to our vision as well.

I’m not under the illusion that one day everyone will agree. We live in a pluralistic, post-modern culture that promotes questions, doubts and the vitality of unique differences. The thing that confuses me is, why then, do the people who promote such pluralism get upset when there are others that don’t agree with them? Isn’t that the point of a high functioning pluralistic culture? The biggest misnomer in contemporary society is that everyone must agree in order to love each other well. Fighting for an end result of “agreement” is called a dictatorship, not pluralism. Pluralism doesn’t lack an understanding of absolute truth and conviction. It does however, promote the strength of truth and conviction in combination with a commitment to pursue that which is disconnected for peaceful, productive and mutually beneficial outcomes (e.g. this is how I understand and define reconciliation, over the confusing merits of those fighting for “cultural alignment”).

The Marin Foundation works to live in the tension of these disagreements by building bridges (e.g. peacemaking). And when a bridge building/peacemaking organization takes a side, it loses the right to stand in the middle to facilitate a new medium of engagement with each opposing worldview.

The Marin Foundation is a Movement shaped by bold individuals of reconciliation; whose orientation is one of love, who live in the tension and refuse to allow hate, disagreements or past experiences cause division in any community. Our focus is to individually, corporately and politically shift what is currently seen as the acceptable medium of cultural engagement—the polarizing back-and-forth, win-lose rhetoric—onto elevating the conversation. We do this through a worldview of engagement that all might experience dignity, love and reconciliation with faith and each other. By creating intentional spaces to live in the tension of what theologically, socially and politically divides us, we continually seek productive means that carve new paths forward.

This is why The Marin Foundation doesn’t answer yes/no questions. Because for us, the importance is not on the “correct” answer; it’s on relating to our shared humanity to do life and love better regardless of how you answer any of those close-ended questions. The accusations that Dan brings up are not new, and I have responded to them multiple times over the years. You can read my responses here and here (posted on my old blog site), which I still stand by today.

*More poignantly than me continuing to justify my own organization, how about Dan and other’s listen to the words of LGBT people themselves, who actually do know me in real life, have participated for years in The Marin Foundation’s Living in the Tension Gatherings//I’m Sorry Campaign//Education Classes//Bridge Building Trainings, are on staff at The Marin Foundation, and those who were totally skeptic of us until they met us, got involved, and are now committed more than ever to this bridge building vision.

Here you go:

From Bryan B. in NYC:

As a 28-year-old out gay man who grew up in a Southern, evangelical home and is now thriving in New York City in business school and with a boyfriend, I can tell you that it really does get better. My life got better — thanks to Andrew Marin.

I first came in contact with Andrew and The Marin Foundation several years ago while living in Chicago, working, going to church and managing the results of coming out to my parents and family after 22 years in the closet. Ever since that first experience, I have only known Andrew to be of one orientation – validating, unconditional, complete love. More than most friends (gay and straight), coworkers, and family, Andrew has been present and loving of my coming out story, health scares, meeting my parents and having dinner with my boyfriend and his wife. In all instances, me, my boyfriend and my Christian parents have all walked away with the sense of being heard, being validated, being dignified.

The last statement should not in any way being interpreted as Andrew being duplicitous, conniving or evil. Andrew simply chooses to elevate conversations above society’s unending fascination with the ratings-hiking, money-making, self-righteous action of creating an “other.” With Andrew, we are all wonderful, beautiful humans and children of God, each with strengths and weaknesses, love and pain. Judging and validating only those who fit what we are and believe is right, while trying to demonize and correct the broken “others” we have created, is destructive, futile and scarring.

Through Andrew’s example, I have learned to love and engage with all others, including evangelicals who still find me an abomination and detestable. Or gays who cannot fathom my personal faith. In both cases, though, I only see another person who holds value and desires loving validation. Once I uplift their humanity, I am then on a journey to them recognizing my own – no matter than timeline – and the later opportunities to lovingly engage and grow from  each other. Is the journey always quick and carefree? Hardly. Living in the tension can be trying. Yet I have always found it to be more fruitful and beneficial to all involved than the us v. them mentality in which Mr. Savage is seeking to engage his perceived opponents, such as Marin.

I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Savage speak this last year at a professional conference and was moved to tears by some of his stories, just as I have done with Andrew’s. I would encourage him to dine and interact with Andrew directly, much as he previously has offered his home to others. I truly believe that through engagement, he would understand that his statement that Andrew declining to say that homosexuality is not a sin is simply one-third of a complete message. The full message is that Andrew does not answer the question of homosexuality being a sin because doing so automatically creates an us and them scenario. Instead, Andrew loves everyone and as such has helped my parents love and accept me and now my boyfriend. I dare so such a response would have taken much longer or never come had I taken Savage’s approach.

From The Marin Foundation’s staff member, Laura Statesir:

The Marin Foundation was a light in a dark place for me. When I came out, I was desperately searching for someone to tell me God still loved me. The Marin Foundation helped me be comfortable with faith and sexuality. Now I work for The Marin Foundation because no other organization seeks to bring peace and love to the tension between the LGBTQ community and the Church like The Marin Foundation.

From The Marin Foundation’s staff member, Kevin Harris:

As the Director of Community Relations, I have been working with The Marin Foundation since 2009. Beyond finding reparative therapy to be harmful, I would not change my orientation to heterosexual even if it was possible, as I believe that God loves me as I am–as someone that is gay. Part of my role entails overseeing our interns, many of whom are trying to figure out what they believe about their sexuality. It is important for us to create a safe space with a variety of resources where they can question and critically think about their sexuality to come to a conclusion, whether it’s a more traditional or progressive interpretation of scripture on the matter.

From Seth Dibblee in Chicago, IL:

I can say, after living more than 30 years in it, that the Evangelical church is filled with people who are uptight about sexuality. And I can also say, after spending the last 10 of those years as an openly gay believer, that the church is even more uptight about GLBT sexuality. Against this backdrop, Andrew Marin and his organization are a badly-needed breath of fresh air. Because of its long record of abuse, intolerance, and hypocrisy toward it, the church has lost the right to be heard in the GLBT community toward it. Andrew recognizes this and calls it what it is.

In a strategy that draws suspicion from both the church and the tribe, Andrew will not say whether or not being gay is sinful.  Instead, he asks, “Why does it matter?” Therein lies the genius: We need to examine all the assumptions we have made about God. We need to understand the consequences of those assumptions, especially in our relationships with each other. And we need to decide what we will do differently. All of that takes place through dialogue that would be shut down in a trice if he made a pronouncement one way or another.

I have known Andrew and his staffers for several years, and enjoy participating in all kinds of events. I am just as gay—and just as Christian—going into these occasions as when I leave them. If anything for me, they are opportunities to become more authentic in both regards. Andrew creates a safe and welcoming space where people of all stripes can enter these important conversations. People don’t always agree, but agreement isn’t the objective. The dialogue itself is the objective; building relationships that might not otherwise ever exist.

Andrew’s work is transparent; what you see is what you get. I’ve seen no trace of homophobia, but I have seen some dismay at being treated shabbily by organizations who don’t share his vision. His work is prophetic; he understands that Jesus worked foremost among those on the margins, while calling on the leadership to do better. Most of all, his work is passionate; Andrew loves God and it shows. In these ways, he is evangelical in the best sense of the word.

From Lisa S. in Peoria, IL:

Jesus doesn’t ask us to look through Him. He asks us to look at Him. Look at His example, look at His love, look at His life, look at His sacrifice and know what He wants each of us to do and be like. It saddens me that Mr. Savage has lost sight of this within his own life, but instead attempts to point fingers at others. More accurately, to swing his words as a verbal cat of nine tails towards The Marin Foundation and Andrew Marin in particular. Mr. Savage appears jaded towards the church, God, and those who believe that the example of Christ was inclusion, love, and to embrace another. What is wrong with standing on the sidelines of a parade and offering an apology to someone who has been hurt? What is wrong with offering a hug? What is wrong with talking to young people about their sexuality? Does The Marin Foundation do these things? Absolutely. Would Jesus? Absolutely. Mr. Savage accuses The Marin Foundation and Andrew Marin of having ulterior motives. The good ol’ bait and switch tactic. Yet, he has no evidence of the switch part. Someone stands and says I’m sorry and I love you and we stand back declaring that we’re certain that the other shoe will drop any time now. It hasn’t.

The Marin Foundation knows and loves me as a lesbian woman. They are not “sneakily homophobic.” Never have they tried to change me or suggest that my sexuality is a “struggle” or a sin. Perhaps our conversations needs to focus less about sin and more about love? Maybe Jesus modeled this a little bit? The Marin Foundation is loud and clear on the topic of unconditional love and perhaps that is the goal? To love one another. Jesus had a thing or two to say about that. The Marin Foundation has loved me, supported me, encouraged me, and walked beside me when others in my faith group would not. Period. Look at them and you will see Jesus.

From Registered Runaway Blog:

The only message I ever received from The Marin Foundation was that God loves me and they love me, just as I am, gay. And it wasn’t just said over and over again, it was given fully and genuinely. It was expressed in Andrew grabbing a cup of coffee with me, for two hours, listening to my story and telling me that I was loved. It struck me while attending their Living in the Tension Gathering when one of the regulars, a man with a partner from my hometown, threw his arms and around me and told me that it gets better. It was when, my mom and I, late for the meeting and lost in Chicago, finally found the destination only to be met by the one of staff that had been waiting outside for God knows how long, with arms wide open to give us big hugs when we went for the handshake. As far as I know, and have experienced, The Marin Foundation is one of the most welcoming and affirming places today for LGBT folks. They defend me against conservative Christians that want me to enter into the harmful practice known as “reparative” or “ex gay” therapy. They proclaim to the evangelical world that I am fully human, fully loved and receive every bit of dignity as they do. Even though it would be easier not to, they stand in the middle of the divide, actively apologizing for the Church’s sins of homophobia. Andrew Marin and The Marin Foundation is the most anti-homophobic force in the Church today. In ten years, the evangelical world will be better because of him.

From Eliel Cruz in Michigan:

The first time I met Andrew Marin a year ago he told me “bro, I’m giving you my cell number and I don’t just give that to anyone. I like you man.” We’ve been friends ever since. “Love Is an orientation” has been fundamental to the work I’ve done nationally on seventh day Adventists universities campuses. Dan Savage’s misguided comments of The Marin foundation show the complete lack of familiarity with the foundation. He has gay people working for him! Attempting to discredit Marin’s work by aligning him with the likes of the Westboro church is ignorant. Marin walks the walk, working in the heart of Boystown for a decade bridging gaps between LGBT people and their churches. The accusations are so ridiculous it’s hard to take them seriously. Savage completely discredits himself speaking against someone who is known internationally to be doing incredibly work. The only “sneaky” thing about him is his infectious positive attitude and welcoming arms.

From Albert in Indiana:

After reading Andrew’s book, Love Is an Orientation, and exploring The Marin Foundation website, my partner and I wanted to support The Marin Foundation. But Andrew’s story frankly sounded too good to be true. As a result, we had a dinner to meet with Andrew and his wife Brenda. Then we had them over to our house. Then we met the rest of the staff at The Marin Foundation. We got to know them. We learned for ourselves that The Marin Foundation espouses and lives out the tenets set out on their website and in Andrew’s book. Reading Mr. Savage’s description of what he thinks Andrew believes can only elicit laughter, as the only thing he got correct is the spelling. Well, and the hugging. But the claims of homophobia, believing that gay people can change, and similarities to the Westboro Baptist Church are at best patently false. To learn about Andrew and The Marin Foundation, I encourage you to look for yourself. Don’t listen to others. Not even the New York Times.

From Steven Janssen in Chicago, IL:

I am a 51 year old gay Christian in a mixed orientation marriage. As someone who has been involved with The Marin Foundation for almost 16 months, from attending their Living in the Tension meetings twice a month to regularly sharing meals with all their staff members and waking in the AIDS Walk Chicago with them, I must say I have never received anything but love and support from The Marin Foundation. Never has anyone tried to talk me into changing my sexual orientation or even entertained the possibilities of that ever happening. Their Associate Director is currently working with my small suburban church to open the conversation up so that it is a safe place for me to come out.

To sum up this response article, I (Andrew) know with all my heart that Dan is doing what he thinks best for the LGBT community, and society as a whole. And that is all I am doing as well. I have no ill will towards Dan, and I look forward to one day actually meeting the It Get’s Better man, myth, and legend.

“[Society is living in] a new tribalism–a regression to older and more factious loyalties–that is driving us ever more angrily apart. Peace is a paradox. Any attempt to impose on [society] an artificial uniformity in the name of a single culture or faith, represents a tragic misunderstanding of what it takes for a system to flourish.” -Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference

Much love.


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59 responses to “My Response to Dan Savage’s Accusations about The Marin Foundation in the New York Times”

  1. Good for you, Andrew. I commented to someone else on this matter that Andrew Marin is about as homophobic as Ru Paul. I’m embarrassed FOR Dan Savage. He, in my opinion, is a bigoted conversation stopper. You keep doing what you’re doing, Andrew. Be encouraged this day.

  2. nitpicking here but I think Nelson Mandela wanted to build bridges between black and white communities AND otherthrow the white Afrikaner government. Just building bridges is not enough if you leave the oppressive structures in place.

  3. Question: you say that progressives are “segregating” conservatives today. What does that mean? What are you referring to?

    I think that Marin is coming from a good place, but one should always be wary of evangelicals bearing gifts…

    • if the gift is acceptance, is there a time frame for yours & other’s decision about the legitimacy of the gift?
      Trust is earned and given and anyone (gift-bearing or otherwise) who isn’t willing to allow others the dignity of their choice of investment isn’t present for the benefit of others…

  4. Andrew has spoke multiple times at my church in Omaha and has taken times to visit with me personally when here. I have nothing but the highest respect for the work the Marin Foundation is seeking to accomplish in a hostile environment (often from both sides). We all need to be about building bridges with those with views other than our own. Andrew’s comments here demonstrate with such class and integrity his sincere heart for all people. Well said my brother!

  5. Thank you Andrew for again asking each of us as people to challenge our selves to be larger than we choose to be on the inside and to love without bounds. Your response to Mr. Savage is excellent, much like your response to life. Love ya to little bits.

  6. Andrew keep up the good work…. I say this quote from the Movie Pursuit of Happyness Movie: I thought of you and your efforts and dream to build bridges…

    “Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something.
    Not even me. You got a dream, you gotta protect it.
    When people can’t do something themselves,
    they’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it.
    You want something, go get it. Period. -Chris Gardner

    Trevor Goforth

  7. I met Andrew Marin in 2009 in Cedar Rapids, IA. When he came, I was a (female!) youth pastor sitting in a room with a bunch of conservative, white, middle-aged men in positions of authority in local churches and the community.

    I watched as a loud majority kept challenging him to state that homosexuality was a sin and shouldn’t be supported. I was so, so very impressed that instead of answering them, he kept pointing the conversation to what really mattered: not talking about sin, but about loving people. And he explained really well why a “love the sinner hate the sin” mentality was offensive and ineffective. Everything I had been frustrated about with negotiating between my (often questioning) students and these men was laid out there on the table to talk about. It was really a breath of fresh air.

    Moreover, I had then recently been asked to be the maid of honor in a gay wedding. My Christian friends were advocating that I tell the couple that I couldn’t and that it would be a beautiful testimony to God. I couldn’t wrap my head around that thinking, so after the talk, I asked Andrew about it. Before I had even finished the story, he said, “Go. Go.” And I don’t remember the exact words, but he told me that my friends knew about my faith and asked me, anyway, and that my love and support and celebration of them was a better testimony to God than anything else could be. That ended up being a real turning point in my life and how I lived my faith. I have gained so much: I am happier because I am doing what I think is right, I am truer to myself and how I show God’s love to others, and I have so many more wonderful friends in the LGBTQ community. And they teach me about God all the time.

  8. You had me until you wrote this:

    “And when I say “actual ethic of inclusion” I am referencing inclusion’s real definition: Including all, everyone. Inclusion cannot be defined as “including only the people I choose to include.” That is called segregation. This goes for what progressives are doing to conservatives today, the same as white straight males did (and some legitimately continue to argue, they still do) to every person who was not a white straight male in much of the world’s history. ”

    Progressives are ‘segregating’ conservatives ? Sorry, but that is a ridiculous statement. That is why I struggle with people of faith. In the noble effort to be fair and just, logic and raw objectivity is sometimes lost.

    • So, GarySFBCN, you think we progressives DON’T ‘segregate’ conservatives? Did you look up the definition of ‘segregate’ before you wrote that? It means, “to separate or isolate others or from a main body or group.” Do we progressives not say to conservatives, “We want to include you, but we can’t abide your not including others we want to include, so we CAN’T include you until you agree to include others you want to exclude”? I believe we do that, because it is too hard for us to accept people we define as “exclusivist,” mainly because their presence reminds us of our own exclusivism. Read some of the things psychologist Carl Jung wrote about projection and the shadow self. That might help you see better how and why we progressives – as well as many conservatives (and people who don’t claim either of those labels) – ‘segregate’ others with whom we find it difficult to get along.

  9. GarySFBCN, I think Andrew’s point is that people from both sides of the political spectrum on this issue (and others) tend to vilify each other. I do not think he is making “a ridiculous statement”. I’ve seen it amongst people with whom I align; “they” are the problem because “they” are ignorant because they believe X. Conservatives do it, ‘progressives’ do it. We like who agrees with us and think those who do are are creating the problem. Even your response (and I may be wrong in my interpretation) appears to prove Andrew’s point: Andrew thinks differently than you so his claim is “ridiculous”. Is that beneficial?

    • The problem is that he saying that both sides are right, both sides have equally valid points and that they should just get along with each other and be nice. That’s a huge, huge issue in American discourse and has led to nonsense like the whole evolution/creationism “controversy”. At has also led to media outlets giving voices to all kinds of fringe groups because everyone, no matter how crazy, is treated like they have a legitimate opinion that’s worth listening to on a national stage. This may work in academic circles when debating things that don’t really affect anyone. It certainly doesn’t work when the topic is civil rights. Sometimes one side is simply wrong and doesn’t have any or few valid arguments. All Andrew Marin does is enable the oppressors.

      • “The problem is that he saying that both sides are right, both sides have equally valid points and that they should just get along with each other and be nice.”

        Steve I think that is correct but I think there’s another dynamic involved as well: The persecution/victim complex that so many people of faith have, that acts as a filter for everything.

        I should disclose that while I abhor religion, I am not an atheist,.

        • GarySFBCN, loving others is not simply “being nice.” Loving is hard work, a fact which is made clear by the realization that few people really are loving in this world. Even though you “abhor religion,” I commend to you the writing of the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church, chapter 13, in the Christian Bible. Read it, and see if the way he describes love doesn’t make it sound both impossible to do and absolutely essential for our common life together. It’s the practice of that kind of love that Andrew Marin and the Marin Foundation are trying to promote – not one that lets the abusers off the hook, but one that calls them to account for their abuse and takes them to task for it until it stops.

      • Steve, in claiming that Marin is saying that “both sides are right, both sides have equally valid points,” you are misreading and misrepresenting him. He is actually saying that “each side lives by its own standards, and we need to accept that, and at the same time, what we cannot accept is that either side is AGAINST the other. They must show love to one another as beloved children of God, even as they hold onto even diametrically opposed worldviews that seem to call for them to change or even harm the ‘other’.” Part of the point of this is that we cannot treat the ‘other’ as a fellow human being worthy of respect if we consider that our ideology is more important to us than the humanity of the ‘other.’ What Marin is calling for is difficult to live out, but it is the only way that offers the possibility of people actually coming to a win-win situation rather than always having one or the other party losing out to the other, thereby simply building up resentment among the losers and a false sense of superiority among the winners, resulting in a repetition of the cycle down the road. I know this is a hard concept to get one’s head around, but it is so in large part because it has rarely been tried in the history of humankind. We humans aren’t wired that way, and yet we can train ourselves to act that way if we set our minds to do so. As a Christian I would say that it is the Holy Spirit that enables us to live in a loving way that doesn’t come naturally to us and that is impossible to accomplish without divine help; but others don’t have to believe that God or the HS or Jesus have anything to do with it for them to come to the same conclusion about how one is able to choose to live in love. Think about it, and draw your own conclusions. But we need to be careful when we try to interpret those with whose ideas we disagree, since there is the great possibility that we have not fully comprehended the significance of their ideas, interpreting them, as we are wont to do, through the lens of our own worldview.

    • After witnessing a lifetime of millions of gay men being ridiculed, beaten-up and sometimes killed, and seeing many ‘good Christians’ do nothing, and then having gay men vilified in the most vile way by most ‘conservatives’ and ‘Christians’ , who to this day continue to compare gays with pedophiles, rapists, perverts, and witnessing our so-called ‘welcoming Christians’ do nothing (because, it seems, being anything other than docile is,wrongly, considered a virtue), it is impossible for me to accept that there is a valid ‘other side’ to this discussion.

      Rev. Martin Luther King said “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”.

      If you think that stepping in now, attempting to mediate without taking sides is what Jesus would do, we are then so far apart in our understanding of Christianity that there is no point in continuing this discussion.

      The last pope, before he was pope, wrote that allowing gays to adopt children was like “committing violence” against those children. He also wrote that there is no “conceivable right” to gay-rights and when laws are passed to protect gays, nobody should be surprised when “irrational and violent reactions increase”, which many saw as a Vatican-sanctioned ‘green light’ to beat up gays. And that is exactly what we are seeing in France. The Catholic-sponsored protesters fighting against same-sex marriage are now threatening that blood will be drawn if same-sex marriage is approved.

      Now please share with me the validity of the opinions belonging to people who hate, who lie, who commit violence, sometimes in the name of God. And please share with me the strong Christian voices that have been countering all of this hatred.

      God gave us all the ability to think and reason. He weeps when we choose to do otherwise.

  10. I have read and recommended Andrew Marin’s book “Love is an Orientation”. I did so even though I had some major problems with what I feel are theologically suspect re-definitions of scripture in some places and flat out ignoring some of the passages that Christians use to attack the non-straight communities.

    I am saddened that while Marin has no problem categorizing Savage’s comments as “the same old tired lies” – nowhere does he seek to refute them. Nowhere does he say he hasn’t said or done the things Savage says he has done.

    Instead he makes an appeal to the audience and a false appeal to authority with his ‘testimonials’ that he is doing good work. Sorry – but Mr. Marin, you need to do better if you are going to call someone a liar. You have to tells us the particulars of why it is a lie. Otherwise, it is just two people on opposites of the polemical playground calling each other names.

    • Ekhym – Check the links towards the bottom. That is where I have previously addressed the exact accusations from years ago. Thanks for your opinions.

  11. Beautifully and lovingly written. Hopefully your message will eventually be received and embraced by Mr. Savage. I’m proud of you Andy.

  12. Regardless of personal opinions, responsible journalism would dictate checking your facts before writing and printing statements about people that are false and potentially damaging. Apparently neither Dan Savage nor the New York Times bothered to fact check what they wrote and printed. This tells me that I can no longer trust that other things they write and print are accurate.

    The discussions about religion, who is being persecuted and who is not, and who is segregating whom, regardless of who is making them, are not really the point. The point is whether or not the characterization of Marin and his foundation is factually accurate, and if it is not, why would Savage write it and the NYT publish it.

  13. “The credit belongs to the man that is in the arena. Whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood. Who knows the grand enthusiasms and devotions and spends his life in worthy causes. Who at best, knows the victory of high achievement, who if he fails, fails greatly. So that his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt

  14. There can be no freedom without forgiveness, but in order to forgive we first have to see the other with loving eyes. There is no other way. Thank you Andrew for calling all of us to the bigger value.

  15. I support Gay people and I support Gay marriage but for christ’s sake put your damn cloths on. Running around in public in your underwear is disgusting I don’t care what your orientation is. ACT LIKE A RESPONSIBLE ADULT! and you might just be treated like one.

    • Bob: I’m assuming you’re talking about the guy hugging Andrew in the picture above.

      IIRC, he was on a float. His employer’s float. Promoting his employer’s business. Wearing his work outfit. Where he likely earned more in that job than he could at most other entry-level positions within the city of Chicago between wages and tips.

      In other words, he was being a responsible adult. He was working.

  16. I have my own critiques of Dan Savage’s work, but I’ll leave them aside for the moment…

    I wonder, Andrew, if your ethic of inclusion would include people like me. I am queer, and also a polytheist, and so my theological foundations are quite different than yours. While I saw your list above of who is included, and was happy to see a great deal of diversity there, you mentioned “Christians” (of various stripes in relation to gayness) and “non-faith” persons; but what about people of other religions that are not either Christian or non-religious?

    I’d be interested in speaking further on this with you; I have a bi-weekly column at the Patheos Pagan Channel as well, in case you’d like to check it out.

    • P. Sufenas – Thanks for the questions. Please give me a few days as I want to thoroughly answer your questions. I have someone in town helping my org with some tech stuff, and he is also staying at my apartment. Will respond asap. Very much looking forward to dialoguing. Much love.

    • Hello again – Sorry it took so long. The storm has subsided. As for your questions, here are my responses:

      Our Ethic of Inclusion does include people of any belief (or not). In fact, our gatherings at Roscoe’s Bar in Boystown ( are donated to us by a gay atheist man who runs the bar. We have Jews, a very small number of Muslims, atheists, Protestants, Catholics, and at our larger gatherings, handful of polytheist’s like yourself – most of which identify as queer. Buddhist being the most dominant. We also have one Wiccan who comes every so often, when his partner convinces him. I’ll be honest, I do have a lot to learn in that category, but I’m all about worldview enhancement. Learning is never a bad thing.

      Inclusion is inclusion. Period. I actually find that the most thoughtful and nuanced conversations of divisive issues happens with those from the polytheist beliefs. They don’t have a gatekeeper mentality, and thus, are more open to engaging differently than how cultural norms dictate “acceptability.” I would love to talk more to you about any/all of this if you’d like. I’d also love to hear your thoughts as well. Just in case, my email is Much love!

  17. I’ve known Andrew for many years. I met him toward the end of a very long period of struggling with the apparent conflict between my faith and my sexuality. From our very first meeting I was totally amazed at how well he understood the struggle and how supportive he was of me and my journey. In all of the years I’ve known him, I never once heard or even sensed him suggest that I needed to change my orientation. He has shown me nothing but love, understanding, and acceptance.

    There’s no question that our society has made a significant shift toward support of marriage equality in recent years. Some of that shift is even happening within the Christian community. While there’s no way to know this for sure, I wonder if the bridge building that Andrew has done all over the country has contributed to that shift. Rather than criticizing The Marin Foundation, the LGBT community should instead applaud him. He might very well be doing more to open minds within the Christian community than we are.

    Building bridges between people of opposing views is incredibly challenging and commendable work. It’s all too easy for those on either side to disrespectfully launch grenades at those who are in the middle and to demand that they declare a position on the topic being discussed. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Andrew and for The Marin Foundation. He has done more to promote healthy, honest, and (most importantly) respectful dialog about this issue than anyone I know. God bless you, Andrew. Keep up the good work!

  18. I dunno. Until Andrew is quite clear that being gay is not a sin, I don’t buy any of it. He deftly avoids responding to this particular issue each time The Marin Foundation is criticized. He needs to be forceful and clear in denouncing those who would characterize homosexuality, or the private acts between consenting gays and lesbians, as sinful. It’s glaringly obvious that he won’t address that issue, and his rhetoric feels like a glossed up version of “Hate the sin, but not the sinner.”

    • Just curious – Why do you choose to frame the issue using the religious terms “sin” or “not sin”. That must mean you’re religious and feel those terms are relevant for you. Otherwise, are you not allowing religious people to draw you into a discussion on their terms, using their terminology?

    • He could do that, but then he would lose all credibility with evangelicals. At that point he would just be one more blogger in favor of gay rights. Instead of just swelling our numbers by one, he is one of the few people I know (I don’t personally know him) who can stand in the middle and I think that has value.
      Obviously there will still be people on either side who don’t trust him because he isn’t “really on their side.” This only further illustrates why he needs to keep up what he is doing. If you will only listen to people you completely agree with then there will be no true dialog.
      Some people will say to give up on everybody who is on the other ‘side’ of this debate, they will say that nobody changes their mind. That’s not true. I’ve changed my mind and, while I’m no Andrew Marin, I’ve witnessed and been instrumental in conservative friends and family members coming to the realization that gay marriage should be legalized, and eventually that homosexuality isn’t a sin. (Always in that order btw)

      Andrew and the Marin foundation are the bridge-builder Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

    • Why do we feel entitled to an answer? Where does this sense of entitlement come from, demanding he and the Foundation answer our questions? Who are we, anyway?

      If Andrew and his foundation declare that homosexuality is considered sinful (the sex act, not homosexuals as human beings), from their interpretation of Scripture, then such would still not undermine their “bridge-building” to the LGBTQ community.

      If there is to be a bridge, there must be two banks, opposing sides which require a connection. That is what Andrew Marin and those of The Marin Foundation are attempting to accomplish. They want to hold the hands of LGBTQ-affirming individuals and the hands of their opponents for a civil conversation on the sensitive issues that divide them — both theological and sociological.

      • “Why do we feel entitled to an answer?”
        @William Birch, *exactly*. I believe the need for an answer with some people has less to do with the notion of having integrity in regards to Scripture and more to do with whether they are *on our team*.

        It’s sort of like when the religious leaders brought an adulterous woman to Jesus, wanting Him to condemn her; and He didn’t.

  19. So Andrew, if the the issue was slavery, would you (in the interest of bridge-building) refuse to answer the question of whether blacks are fully human or not? By refusing to answer certain very important questions, you ultimately come off as disingenuous.

    • Not necessarily. The question – for me – is whether we will achieve the goals (of full equality, for example) by head-on confrontation solely, or whether there is a place for bridge-building.

      So many people’s prejudices melt away when they actually get to know the human being behind the stereotype they’ve been stoking. Whatever the motives of the person who stands in the gap and refuses to take sides, they may bring about the happy conclusion, more quickly and with more long-lasting social coherency than robust argument can.

      I’m not putting words in Marin’s mouth, or presuming something about his aims, nor saying that in-your-face-no-compromise-activism doesn’t have a place. I’m simply saying that it’s disingenuous to argue that reconciliation is automatically compromise. And you should see what the Evangelicals say about Marin – makes Savage look positively supportive 🙂

    • @ John
      I disagree that he’s being disingenuous. It’s important to note that the issue of homosexuality (and gay marriage, while we’re at it) has a different complexity than race relations, with a different history and motivating factors that drive its opposing campaigns. In fact, I am always uncomfortable whenever someone uses the mantra “gay is the new black”, because it oversimplifies the issues and casually equates them, without considering various glaring influences (such as socioeconomic factors or religious tensions, for example).

      But most obviously, it’s important to note that the question, “are blacks fully human” is QUITE different than “is homosexuality a sin”, and has different ramifications, especially in the religious conversation. Being a believer in Jesus *requires* that the former question be a foregone conclusion, as one simply MUST have a healthy understanding of human beings as made in God’s image.

      The latter question doesn’t question the humanity of gays; it has a different complexity in a religious conversation, and must be treated as such. Furthermore, the latter question inevitably throws one into multiple contentions, such as conservative vs. liberal, evangelical vs. progressive Christianity, literal vs. contextual understandings of Scripture. We know that these debates have been, more often than not, co-opted to be unnecessarily divisive.

      The question then becomes, why is an answer necessary? For a headline or soundbite? To make people feel better? So we know where he stands so we can write an article supporting/disparaging the foundation?

      I think it takes a lot of wisdom to refuse to go “there”, at least for now.

  20. I know you’re trying, Andrew, but I still don’t think you’ve got it. The Marin Foundation isn’t Nelson Mandela. You weren’t “welcomed” to the table in Mandela’s South Africa if you couldn’t articulate a willingness to see the same humanity in Black South Africans as White South Africans. Nobody was going to hurt you, but your power was to be drained, and your opinions solidly and steadily rebuked.

    And re-read Letter from a Birmingham Jail if you think King approved of those who stood on the sidelines crying “peace, peace when there is no peace.”

  21. Just wanted to drop in and say that what you’re doing is one of the most Christlike undertakings I’ve seen in this country regarding homosexuality. I pray that you and the foundation continue to stand your ground against attacks on both sides of the political aisle, and keep doing what you’re doing with the grace and power of our Lord Jesus.

    Also, your stance against answering the is-homosexuality-a-sin question is inspiring. Like the predatory and inevitably invasive nature of mass media, everyone wants an answer, but they don’t need one. Even Jesus rarely gave expected answers to what people asked of him, whether it was the Pharisees, political leaders, or even his own disciples. I sincerely believe the Holy Spirit is with you, and giving you strength and wisdom not to give in to the ever-demanding us-or-them complex. Keep on.

  22. Christians to Gays: You are a horrible people and you’re going to hell.
    Gays to Christians: No we’re not.
    Marin: You’re both right.
    Me: WTF?

    • That’s not entirely accurate.

      Marin and TMF are more like: You both obviously disagree and have strong opposing beliefs. And yet you have to live in the same world together. How can we all learn how to move forward despite differences?

      • I’m not seeing any concrete ways Marin is bringing the two sides together. As far as I can tell he still thinks being gay is a bad thing. He just says it in a nicer way.

  23. Christians to Gays: You are horrible people who are going to hell.
    Gays to Christians: No we’re not.
    Marin: You’re both right.
    Me: WTF?

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