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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. “

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    • JustSaying


      Aug 23, 2012 at 6:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Paul

      *Mark Oppenheimer

      Aug 23, 2012 at 6:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Neo

      “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.“

      Because if there is one thing we have learnt is that these people are unreasonable and have literally no rational basis for their continued bigotry and hatred. Unfortunately these toes need to be stepped on to achieve equality in all societies. It is a shame these theocratic conservatives are quick to run down everything and everyone else than they are to help improve society.

      Aug 23, 2012 at 7:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • erasure25

      Love how this article bemoans Savage for doing something but makes no specific suggestions as to what “should” be done to help our fight for equal rights. A couple of vague statements makes this article even more of a waste of time than the topic it addresses (bemoans). Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Ever heard of that? I realize this site is anti-Savage, but honestly, this article reeks of bitterness and bitchiness.

      Aug 23, 2012 at 1:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael Bedwell

      You left out the most important review of this cluster fuck, the one by Brown, himself, who told the “moderator” [All Caps for the Attention Impaired]:


      TRANSLATION: I played Savage’s ego like a violin, and got him to help make me look like a gentle soul courageous enough to enter the faggot’s den to spread Jebus’ love. The fool actually thought I’d suddenly renounce what I’m paid over $200,000 a year to do—travel the world preaching and teaching hate.

      PROOF BROWN “WON”: His group, the National Organization for Marriage, took time out of their mass mailings to raise money off of the FRC HQ shooting [“We’re not going to allow gay activists to get away with attempted murder. And we’re not going to shut up so they can go about the business of redefining marriage. We’re going to fight, and we’re going to win. But we can only do this if you stand with us today. That’s why we need your immediate contribution of $50, $100, or as much as you can give right now to fight back for marriage.”] to create a new Website devoted solely to the so-called “debate,” featuring the video with “bully Dan Savage,” from which they’ll raise tons more. If they thought Savage had scored a single point they wouldn’t be showing it.

      @ erasure25: “Keep your enemies closer”???? How old ARE you? 10? Here’s a specific suggestion [taken from the proven methods of the black civil rights movement and ACT UP]: out of his living room and TV studios for Mr. Savage, and let him lead some nonviolent civil disobedience to draw real attention to Brown and his tribe’s Hate Factory. Picket, block the doorways of their offices, sit in, refuse to move, get arrested, etc., etc. Do the same to TV and radio shows and mainstream newspapers that treat him as anything more than the equivalent of the KKK or neonazis. Invite them to dinner? Christ on a cracker!

      Aug 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • NOMComments

      Jeremy Hooper over at goodasyou said it best, in Brian’s own words from the debate (and my personal favorite moment of the debate)

      “Because you believe something is wrong doesn’t mean you make it illegal”

      Aug 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jeff4justice

      WTF? Queerty/Dan bitches about giving haters attention but gives them attention? Such high and mighty hypocrisy. If the LGBT blogs did not have the anti-gays and Republicans to write about they’d go out of business.

      Also, ignoring bad people does not make them go away. Many are awful and will never change but some do change.

      Aug 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • objectivistking

      @jeff4justice: Here! Here! Well done. Everybody wins, and loses, but it was great that it happened.

      Aug 24, 2012 at 9:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shadeaux

      @NOMComments: They did with divorce.

      Aug 24, 2012 at 7:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shadeaux

      @NOMComments: Sorry about that… I read it wrong.

      Aug 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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