Guess Who Came To Dinner: Dan Savage And NOM’s Brian Brown

After Dan Savage took a dig at some students who walked out of a high-school journalism conference in April, National Organization of Marriage president Brian Brown had a predictable paroxysm, brashly offering to debate the gay sex columnist and even allowing him to name the time and place.

Instead of booking Madison Square Gardens, Savage invited Brown to his home to sup with him, his husband, Terry, and their son, DJ.  “The trick here is you have to knowledge my humanity by accepting my hospitality and I have to acknowledge yours by extending my hospitality to you,” he said in a Savage Love podcast last month.

Well, Brown accepted the invite and the two broke bread at Savage’s home in Seattle on August 15. The New York Times‘ Matt Oppenheimer was on hand to moderate the debate (and make sure no one got into the knife drawer).

After dinner, the two philosophical enemies got into it:  “I don’t think [anyone] has a right… 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 attempt to redefine it, that is religious tyranny.”

Brown blamed the Left, academics and an “elite culture” for impugning traditional marriage: “What I see attempted here… is the notion that those of us who know that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, we are deserving of treatment less than others because we are bigots and we deserve what we get.”

You don’t know that, Brown, you think that—and your inability to understand the difference is why you can’t be reasoned with.

We get why Savage did this: Brown and his ilk have raised the level of rancor in the discussion of gay rights to the point where those under their sway can’t even see us as human beings anymore. Maybe, Savage thought, if they saw their leader talking to me it would force them to view us as fellow Americans with a different point of view rather than pedophiles who rut like pigs in the street.

But NOM, like the Westboro Baptist Church and the Catholic League, is an impotent fraud that only gains power by being validated by the mainstream. It’s only because CNN, Fox, CBS and the like continue to trot them out to talk about gay issues that anyone knows who they even are. By inviting Brown into his home Savage didn’t tame the beast—he fed it. Thanks to this little stunt, Brown was written up in this blog and a million others and even got himself some column inches in the New York Times.

All Savage got was indigestion.

Some days later Dan’s husband, Terry, told Oppenheimer the dinner was a waste of time: “Brian’s heartless readings of the Bible, then his turns to ‘natural law’ when the Bible fails, don’t hide his bigotry and cruelty,” he wrote in an e-mail. “In the end, that’s what he is. Cruel.”

Or, as a commenter on Savage’s post on the Stranger said: “I’m sure Dan did a great job but arguing faith, or the Bible or the power of Jupiter is just a waste of resources better spent actually fixing real problems. “