Dan Savage Debates NOM's Brian Brown at Dinner: THE VIDEO


Here it is.


The video begins with two 10-minute opening statements. Savage discusses the speech he gave which prompted a walkout by some Christian students, points in the Bible and the discredited Mark Regnerus study, as well as NOM's promotion of points made by Regnerus, and how damaging they are.

Brown spends his opening statement arguing against Savage's opening statement, decries the labeling of NOM and other groups as hate groups.

Brown: "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 I think if we want to have a debate let's do it civilly...let's do it based on facts not innuendo."

Savage then discusses the Family Research Council's 'hate group' label and why it is such.

Savage: "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 anti-gay bigotry. And i'm sorry there's no other word for it. I don't think principled opposition to same-sex marriage is necesarily bigotry. THAT is bigotry. What the FRC 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."

The conversation then moves on to the definition of marriage. Savage asks why his family can't be recognized with a civil marriage, and then Brown starts getting hot under the collar (screencap below) and starts getting very angry about being labeled a bigot.

BROWN: Gay marriage cannot exist. There cannot be a marriage of two men or two women. Just because the state says it's so - this is not based upon reality. 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 something. It is not simply about your desires. It is not about my desires.

SAVAGE: Marriage is a package of civil rights and legal responsibilities, no longer an engendered institution.

BROWN: What about three people or four?

SAVAGE: The merits of polygamy - 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 towards polygamy.



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  1. Marlee it would be so good if you weren't here

    Posted by: Joe | Aug 22, 2012 1:04:52 PM

  2. Marlee : I guess you didn't watch the same debate I did; I'm no Savage fan, but THAT characterization is pure BS.

    Posted by: "The Gay" | Aug 22, 2012 1:05:09 PM

  3. Brown's venomous spittle is highly distracting (Starts around 39:50).

    If you can't take the heat Brian, get out of the dining room.

    Posted by: Marc C | Aug 22, 2012 1:05:44 PM

  4. Haha, that's so cute that Brian Brown talks about the scientific method as if it's as nebulous as his religion. Done. Nothing accomplished here.

    As the saying goes, people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

    Posted by: luminum | Aug 22, 2012 1:07:49 PM

  5. Each did what they do best: Dan was articulate, reasonable, and not a little pushy and obnoxious (he reminds me of, well, me). Brian was articulate, incredibly adept at steering the conversation from fact toward theory, and not a little awkward and greasy. From the debate standpoint? I think it was a draw, though NOM will certainly spin it otherwise.

    The clincher, though, was NYT's Matt Oppenheimer jumping in with support for Dan's points. Spin as you may, but when the moderator takes a side, the effect on the undecided viewer is significant.

    Posted by: NyerinMpls | Aug 22, 2012 1:08:53 PM

  6. Marlee - you're ignorant, you obviously didn't listen to the debate, Brown regurgitated worn and tired talking points, held fast to the same repeated untruths and stubbornly retreated to positions and "facts" that were not only questionable but patently false. instead of directly answering questions, Mr. Browns' claim "There could be no civil marriage for gay people" is a known lie - Canada, Spain, Belgium, Argentina, etc etc etc.....all make mincemeat of Brian Brown and his claims.

    Go away, you're not even gay. Get lost.

    This was not a win lose argument, it was a debate but for the sake of clarity, Savage beat him at his own game. The synopsis put out by NOM attacked Dan Savage as a radical gay activist, blah blah blah. It seems even NOM was aware they looked like irrational fools when presenting claims which no longer have any bearing on our society.

    Posted by: Jonathan | Aug 22, 2012 1:12:02 PM

  7. Well, that was disappointing. I feel like the point of having someone at your *dinner table* is to have a conversation, not a structured debate. There was some engaging on specific points, but mostly it was *holding forth*.

    But, bravo to Dan Savage who was calm and eloquent, whereas Brown was acidic and defensive throughout. (If you haven't seen it, don't pay any attention to this Marlee person).

    When people like Brown bring up polygamy or pedophilia, I'd like to ask him how many gay friends he has or how many are in his family. He would surely cite several. Then, I'd ask how many polygamists or pedophiles are either friends or family. He would surely cite none. Brown says comparing discrimination against interracial couples and same-sex couples is *comparing apples and oranges*, but isn't comparing same-sex couples to polygamists and pedophiles comparing apples and oranges?

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Aug 22, 2012 1:13:16 PM

  8. I just watched the whole frustrating thing. If people want to know 'who comes off better in this' the answer to any 'objective' viewer would be Dan Savage, but because of the 'format' of this 'debate' nobody is a winner and no minds would be changed from either side from watching this. They first let Dan speak for 15 minutes, then Brian Brown spoke for 15 minutes (which was excruciatingly painful to watch). During that 15 minutes he's able to throw out so many lies, distortions and complete avoidances of what's truly at stake that you can't possibly go back and hold him to account for any of them because there's no time. There should have been no debate 'format', it should have just been a discussion where either side could freely interject with a moderator there to keep things in check. That being said, Dan comes across with all the valid, logical points and Brian manages to completely avoid any logic that's thrown at him and is particularly upset and bothered by himself being labeled as a 'bigot' for his opinion that his marriage is far superior to the same type of relationship between people of the same sex and for advocacy that people of the same sex should be denied their equal civil rights under the law. See, we're being mean by calling him a bad name for his bad treatment of us. Savage was by far the winner in this, but the whole thing was futile because of the format. On a personal note, I came very close to punching my monitor several times while it was on closeup of Brown's disgusting face spewing his vitriol and hate at us with drying spittle trails stuck between his upper and lower lips. Drink some f*cking water when you are talking for so long and a camera is on you, especially if you know you have this type of problem! He's completely closed-minded and no amount of logic, reason or evidence to the contrary that he's presented with will ever get through to him. Gee, I wonder why??!?

    Posted by: Gary A | Aug 22, 2012 1:13:19 PM

  9. I didn't want to listen to the whole thing either, so I sampled it here and there to get a sense of who was winning. Dan Savage comes off as coherent and Brian Brown makes his usual attempt to justify his bigotry: Namely, we are very scared at the idea of two same sex people having a loving union because we are not used to the idea, and so we oppose it out of fear, not hatred. The commenter signed Marlee must have comprehension problems related to oral arguments. I'm sure she heard what she wanted to hear. Dan Savage sounded logical and Brown sounded unsophisticated.

    There, I made the sacrifice.

    Posted by: i could go on, but I won't | Aug 22, 2012 1:13:21 PM

  10. Okay, when the MODERATOR points out inconsistencies and issues with your arguments, you aren't winning Brian. Regardless of what Agenda Mary wants to say.

    Posted by: Marc C | Aug 22, 2012 1:13:30 PM

  11. I think Dan came off really well and made a lot of good points. I think Brian is a good speaker but he never really delves into his arguments in a way that shows a level of critical thinking about the subject. Simply saying that marriage is between a man and a woman over and over isn't an argument. And in the end, he never really counters Dan's question about his own son: It's not about which is better, a man or a woman or a man and a man, but is a man and a man better than nothing? I would have liked to hear Brian answer that but he never went there.

    Posted by: BK | Aug 22, 2012 1:13:53 PM

  12. Brown made some interesting points, but he gave himself away in a logical sense when, on divorce, he said "just because you don't believe in something, doesn't mean it should be illegal." He bases his argument on the singular nature of men and women, and refuses to defend that point beyond "it's my belief."

    What's more, he shared another interesting concept: that he does not believe that banning same sex marriage is discrimination, but rather that people like him are the ones who will be discriminated against. Dan did an admirable job, but it's tough to argue with someone who questions your basic humanity. It's very tough to argue that you should have such a basic right. Worth a listen while you're doing something else, though.

    Posted by: Cameron Johnson | Aug 22, 2012 1:20:41 PM

  13. Thankfully, the debates that ultimately matter for our legal rights are happening in courtrooms -- and we are winning, because (most) judges don't accept opinions as facts, don't accept the Bible as evidence, and don't let the majority deny rights to a minority without a reason that makes sense to a smart person.

    Posted by: Jeff in CA | Aug 22, 2012 1:24:25 PM

  14. I'm confused by Brian Brown's argument that gay marriage cannot exist. Marriage is a social construct. Marriage is whatever society says it is. In states, or countries, or religious groups that recognize gay marriage it does exist. Mr. Brown my be of the opinion that it should not exist but that does not change the fact that gay marriages exist.

    Posted by: rayrayj | Aug 22, 2012 1:25:49 PM

  15. I have a little more sympathy and understanding for the opposing sides views now. I'm sure most people here will think that' a BAD thing. But I don't live in a gay ghetto with limited exposure to people with very different views.

    Have a great day, people ! I'm off to the real world to interact with the people we're usually so afraid of, to change hearts and minds, one persona at a time !

    Posted by: "The Gay" | Aug 22, 2012 1:26:58 PM

  16. Ugh... that was painful. BB of course displayed his typical inability to listen or respond on topic, sticking to his 'safe' repertoire of canned responses, even when they were just undermined by something DS just said.

    Summary: "Marriage is what we say it is. Your definition harms our authority to declare what marriage is, therefore your definition is wrong."

    Posted by: jexer | Aug 22, 2012 1:27:39 PM

  17. FYI, to change people's minds on this issue, you have to engage them. Having every gay person come out of the closet would be VERY helpful too. I try to engage the opposition everyday. It sucks, and it's painful, but you got to do it.

    Posted by: Anthony | Aug 22, 2012 1:31:10 PM

  18. My god! Brown gets destroyed. He sounds crazy nervous and just straight up doesn't address any of Dan's issues. Dan makes a lot of very, VERY valid points, and distils them into hard, real questions. Brian doesn't at ALL address this.

    You can entirely see the unease in Brown. Dan has notes, is composed and even. It's horrible that Brown can't be made to answer these problems, it's just spinspinspin.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Aug 22, 2012 1:33:50 PM

  19. Dan Savage did not push back hard enough against NOM's Brian Brown on the Regnerus study. He did not specify adequately what it is that makes the "study" scientifically invalid. (A cherry picked control group compared to a test group loaded up with variables, just for starters). Then, the suspicion is that Witherspoon, NOM and Regnerus are in collusion on the study and its promotions in anti-gay-rights contexts. Brown says it does not matter that Witherspoon officials who got the study funded also are NOM officials. If it "doesn't matter," then why do these parties refuse to comply with document requests? Witherspoon, NOM and Regnerus right now today could comply with document requests related to the Regnerus study that have been made by multiple journalists, including The American Independent. Brian Brown only makes himself, Regnerus, NOM and Witherspoon look more suspicious, by refusing to comply with the document requests. After all, if the documentation exonerated these parties, wouldn't that work in these parties' favor? They are hiding the evidence, because the evidence contains things they want to remain hidden.

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Aug 22, 2012 1:39:18 PM

  20. "You can entirely see the unease in Brown."

    Yep, it was clear with the sweatiness and the bizarre cackling. Dan was in a t-shirt, the moderator in a cool-looking short-sleeved summer shirt, but BB was in an uptight brown blazer, which didn't help with the sweatiness.

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Aug 22, 2012 1:40:48 PM

  21. Well, it's civilized, I'll give them that but, why would someone who believes in God be interested in reason? I applaud Dan for going through with this though.

    Posted by: CHAD | Aug 22, 2012 1:44:29 PM

  22. Brown proved beyond a reasonable doubt why he is indeed a bigot: because he cannot, will not and refuses to accept the basic dignity of same sex love as legitimate. He made his points well from his perspective, but then dismisses studies or facts that don't conform to his beliefs. He has the whole Christian as victim mentality and talking points down pat. NOM not only opposes marriage equality but opposes civil unions and domestic partnerships, proving that it gives no legitimacy to gay relationships. That's bigotry. Notice how he says he will never accept a gay marriage no matter what the facts are or ever will be. That's bigotry. Sorry, Brian.

    Posted by: Jim | Aug 22, 2012 1:48:49 PM

  23. I actually watched the whole thing and while no one with a formed opinion will move, I think Savage came off much better -- he essentially debunked NOM's research as both bought and unscientific, charges Brown did not refute. He instead said that because Savage didn't like them, it didn't mean they weren't valid. Brown made very traditional arguments about the institution of marriage's fundamental purpose being to raise children, from both sides of the human experience. Dan mentioned that his son (whom Brown had dinner with prior to the exchange) had been rejected by three heterosexual couples and would otherwise have been raised in a foster system. It was the same debate as ever, but Brown came off, to me, at least as incapable of defending his point of view with anything except a framing belief in heterosexual marriage and a foundation (challenged heavily but defended) in the Bible.

    Posted by: kenar | Aug 22, 2012 1:51:35 PM

  24. For a Christian the Bible is like a security blanket, and like Linus, when they get scared they cling to it all the more. When backed into a corner by logic or reason they actually start shaking it in your face.

    "Go away bad man, go away, I have my Holy Book, and I'll hit you with it if you don't stop making me look silly!"

    And then when the "bad man" has actually read that god-awful book and makes even more logical arguments and exposes its lack of reason all hell breaks loose and the Bible is thrown at the "bad man who made me cry inside."

    Posted by: i could go on, but I won't | Aug 22, 2012 1:56:24 PM

  25. Richard Dawkins said: "If your case depends on pulpit-style oratory, manipulating the emotions of your audience and playing with words, debates will probably work for you very well. They do not, however, work well for explaining science. Debates play to the emotions, to soundbites, to oratorical flourishes and, all too often, to sheer volume. They may make for good drama, but they do not make for good understanding. Fine if your goal is to grandstand; no good at all if it is to educate."

    Posted by: FX | Aug 22, 2012 1:57:52 PM

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