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. I liked bestthe moderator from NYT's Matt Oppenheimer, I think he did a good job. I Had hoped the debate would have taken a slightly different direction than it took. Dan was little better than usual, but I'm not a fan of him in the first place. And Brown, it seems like he really believe in all that crap he spews out of his mouth. And he does not understand that he discriminates against all gay people. What rights does he mean that gay people should have, married/unmarried, young/ old. Very few, it seems like?

    Posted by: nn | Aug 22, 2012 2:01:16 PM

  2. And thus both attention whores get their egos fed. Good job to everyone involved.

    Posted by: Jeff In Boston | Aug 22, 2012 2:01:29 PM

  3. Dan is clarifying another side of the argument in a blunt, broadly accessible way that most people, especially scholars, seem to struggle to do. He counters NOM's talking points with equally digestible talking points and doesn't shy away from an argument. You may not like him personally, but he's doing good work in terms of making visible our defense.

    Brian's claims to victimization were perhaps the most offensive in light of what his organization has done to LGBT Americans. Being called a bigot for one's bigotry does not actually make one a victim or promote sympathy. I wish this had been named.

    The debate as a whole was mired because Brian insisted on reinforcing the same tired talking points and when Dan countered them reasonably, Brian dismissed his points as "wrong" and refused to allow further examination. By the end, it was clear the debate was hopeless in terms of winning or losing. Dan said he was open to considering multiple perspectives and Brian flatly refused. You can't have a healthy debate with that.

    Posted by: Brent | Aug 22, 2012 2:01:56 PM

  4. i don't know how some of you commented so fast. clearly you didn't watch the whole thing.

    end result? Brown proved us all right. His arguments are ridiculous and hypocritical and show what we've all known about his kind - they have excuses for everything and REASONS for NOTHING.

    but, as we also all know, he's too stupid to realize it. as are his fans and followers. it's not just selective amnesia, it's willful ignorance of the highest order.

    this should be seen as a slam-dunk for "our side" but the Other Side is too damned stupid to see it.

    and he is a bigot. and if he doesn't want to get called a bigot he needs to stop embodying what defines a bigot.

    it's like i said to a member of my extended family in michigan:
    "I'll stop calling you a racist when you stop calling President Obama a kenyan-born socialist who hates america because he's part-Muslim and won the presidency because of Affirmative Action."


    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Aug 22, 2012 2:06:17 PM

  5. @36:47 Theirs a statue of Jesus that dan has with badges all over it. Dan was good he was calm cool collected in his thoughts and very articulate in what he was saying. Brown lost it several times.

    Posted by: Xzavier | Aug 22, 2012 2:13:37 PM

  6. What a load of crap. I feel like my dignity as a gay man was lessened the second Dan accepted a bottle of red wine from Brian. I'm surprised Dan didn't shine his shoes for him.

    Posted by: Jollysocks | Aug 22, 2012 2:16:07 PM

  7. @jollysocks: Being cordial offends you?

    Posted by: Cris | Aug 22, 2012 2:19:42 PM

  8. Dan was brilliant. That is not an easy admission for me as I often find him grating for his inability to rein his emotions and, well, pop off at the mouth. I was very impressed that Dan did not get down in the mud with Brian, even when ernestly invited. I don't think Brian understood what he was up against because he showed up for an ideological tirade, replete with talking points, whereas Dan came to argue reason.

    Dan puts forward well reasoned arguments, and opens by taking on the issues within the purported framework of the discussion, which was supposed to be a discussion of the Bible and Christianity. As soon as Brian begins, he trots out talking points and whines about being bullied. He offers no objective facts to support his positions, relying largely on conjecture and his opinions to answer Dan's charges of bigotry against NOM, FRC, and other groups/people. He even tells Dan that the facts are a lie with regard to the tax status of a charity. He dodges questions and creates false comparisons, such as marriage equality and polygamy.

    Brian was clearly nervous, perhaps a little terrified when he finally truly realized what and who he was facing off against. Just goes to show you how diluded he and those like him are when they continue to squawk that marriage equality will "never happen."

    In sum, I am very proud of Dan. But I still wish he would watch his mouth and be consistently as respectful and articulate as he was here.

    Posted by: Tommy Hayes | Aug 22, 2012 2:23:15 PM

  9. I'm really not sure what people expected would be the outcome.

    the anti-gay side has no facts, no evidence, no logic, no reason nor any intelligent and relevant defense for their claims. even the fallback of "the bible!!!" is moot, as their use of it is mired in hypocrisy and a lack of textual understanding.

    they have no facts. they just have learned prejudice and bigotry.

    that's it. no amount of rationale and calmly-delivered facts and logic can move someone whose opinions are based entirely around ignoring said facts and logic.

    it won't get through to Brown until he loses a child of his own. he has 7 kids. we know the numbers game. they aint all straight.

    at least one kid will either abandon his/her family and disown them for their shameful bigotry, or hang their hopes to a noose in a closet. this goes for you too, Santorum.

    being anti-gay doesn't mean you're immune from having gay children. something these bigots fail to realize.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Aug 22, 2012 2:28:50 PM

  10. I kept waiting for Brian's head to explode. And I have to say that after watching that I've given up any hope for Bryan and his ilk to ever move out of the 13th Century.

    Posted by: Mark Alexander | Aug 22, 2012 2:29:01 PM

  11. Hard to watch the whole thing. Felt breakfast in my throat....but held it down and persevered. Dan did a great job of staying cool and not cynical. Brian...well, if you have no "real justification" for prejudice and special treatment...that's bigotry. And aside from his personal belief system, I didn't hear any "real justification". Just more of..."we wants what we wants".
    Thanks Dan...sorry Brian.

    Posted by: PAUL B. | Aug 22, 2012 2:52:15 PM

  12. It's worth watching this whole thing -- it's ONLY an hour. WATCH. Brian never makes a cohesive point. Dan makes 100.

    Posted by: Soose | Aug 22, 2012 3:12:54 PM

  13. "Because you believe something is wrong, doesn't mean you make it illegal" - Brian Brown (at 47").

    I hope someone uses this in a marriage equality campaign somewhere- it's a gift!

    Posted by: My2cents | Aug 22, 2012 3:56:15 PM

  14. I have to say, after enduring about half of the video, I was disappointed with Savage and found myself wishing I was famous enough to garner a debate with Brown. I've debated Catholic priests about this issue with more success, and I'm sure most of us have debated our own family members and others in high school, college, workplace, etc. with more success. A policy or morality debate has to work from a place of dispassionate knowledge and logic. Savage is not really capable of that.

    Posted by: Stefan | Aug 22, 2012 4:27:00 PM

  15. @Cris: Yes, being cordial offends me if we're being cordial to Brian Brown. We in no way want to change the way he worships in church, none of his rights are in any way affected. Yet he is on a crusade to destroy our families and our entire lives. I don't invite people like that over to dinner for a glass of wine, no matter what the context may be.

    Posted by: Jollysocks | Aug 22, 2012 4:30:16 PM

  16. Stefan, I encourage you to start a blog or youtube page where you showcase and share your interactions and success stories.


    get one.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Aug 22, 2012 4:48:43 PM

  17. Dan rocks it. Dude you are my hero!!!

    Posted by: scrufff | Aug 22, 2012 5:01:34 PM

  18. Watched the whole thing. Dan rocks as usual. Mr. Brown doesn't even answer some of the questions towards the end. Never mind the lack of logic to the answers he does give.

    Dan Savage is one of my heroes!

    Posted by: Beau du Jour | Aug 22, 2012 5:08:41 PM

  19. It is the Catholics who do not allow their priest to marry women who then rape and abuse children and then the Catholics hide the priest, they are the ones who are wrong.

    Posted by: Mike | Aug 22, 2012 6:31:29 PM

  20. Wait, did Brian show up with his boyfriend? I am confused.....Where is Brian's heterosexual wife-mate?

    Posted by: NVAgBoi | Aug 22, 2012 6:43:16 PM

  21. @nvagboi: When the invitation was extended, Brian's wife was included, but Brown said she wouldn't be attending. She needed to stay home with the kids and IIRC, she may be pregnant, too.

    I wonder how long after the cameras stopped rolling they continued to chat? Dan was looking more and more like he just wanted the whole thing done and to get Brian out of there. He probably sprayed the house with Lysol after BB left. :-)

    Posted by: Dev | Aug 22, 2012 7:28:33 PM

  22. As I recall, Brian Brown's permanently pregnant wife is permanently on the verge of giving birth and thus (in Brian's view, apparently) permanently barred from intellectual debate.

    All snark aside: she couldn't come because she's pregnant with their eighth child.

    Posted by: R | Aug 22, 2012 7:31:17 PM

  23. I just watched this debate; and, having read Marlee's commentary on what just passed, I can only observe that where you stand depends on where you sit. Dan had a lot of notes and written evidence. Brian had less; and, the reason that each of them came to the table armed as they were was because each of them was arguing from a different starting point: Brian from natural law and divine revelation; Dan from history, observation and logical inference. Notice that when our moderator introduces Karl Popper's falsifiability test--the prospect that only when you can see the conditions under which a proposition may be false can you also demonstrate or recognize the conditions under which it is valid or true--Dan can foresee the conditions under which he could change his opinion, whereas Brian cannot. In fact, he all but asserts implicitly that falsifiability is impossible in this circumstance--a stand consistent with a religious declaration of faith, rather than with the dictates of limited, constitutional democracy with a guarantee of no state-sponsored religion.

    Posted by: Bill Cooley | Aug 22, 2012 9:18:52 PM

  24. I was glad to see the debate. Dan made a number of clear points, Brian obfuscated throughout. I don't know that anyone's opinion will be changed by watching this, but it is good to see both in action.

    Posted by: john patrick | Aug 22, 2012 10:06:09 PM

  25. I don't understand why no one makes the argument that as long as marriages come attached with rights unavailable to those who are not married, its absolutely discrimination. All men are Created Equal. THATS what is in the constitution.

    Posted by: Steve | Aug 22, 2012 10:41:48 PM

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