The Dan Savage And Brian Brown Dinner: Participant Reaction


Now that video has been posted of that dinner between Dan Savage and Brian Brown — the meal at which the famed equality activist debated the infamous anti-gay marriage advocate — journalist and debate moderate Mark Oppenheimer has taken to the New York Times to offer his honest take, including an honest admission of how often the men disagreed and its impact on him: "Everytime they disagreed, I drank some more." A natural response, to be sure.

After the dinner was over and the wine had worn off, Oppenheimer asked the participants, including Savage's spouse Terry Miller, about their shared experience. It seems no one truly enjoyed themselves, and Savage wishes he had held the event on neutral ground.

Mr. Miller pronounced the entire night 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,” Mr. Miller wrote in an e-mail. “In the end, that’s what he is. Cruel.”

I spoke with Mr. Brown by phone, and he seemed to agree that the setting had made little difference. “There’s this myth that folks like me, we don’t know any gay people, and if we just met them, we would change our views,” he said. “But the notion that if you have us into your house, that all that faith and reason that we have on our side, we will chuck it out and change our views — that’s not the real world.”

As for Mr. Savage, he felt that being on his home turf had actually worked against him. “Playing host put me in this position of treating Brian Brown like a guest,” he said. “It was better in theory than in practice — it put me at a disadvantage during the debate, as the undertow of playing host resulted in my being more solicitous and considerate than I should’ve been. If I had it to do over again, I think I’d go with a hall.”

Oppenheimer ends the article on a positive note, though, mentioning that former anti-gay activist David Blankenhorn changed his mind after sitting down with same-sex parents. "Perhaps all is not lost," he writes.


  1. DannyEastVillage says

    Mr Brown (at least in the first 30 minutes) repeatedly had recourse to cultural assertions about the history of marriage that simply are not borne out any any cursory review of the literature of Anthropology; but even the biblical material doesn’t support his position–or the strange assertions he makes about the evolution reflected in the biblical material on the issue of slavery. He totally ignores the critical perspective of biblical material brought in early on by Mr Savage and expects Mr Savage – and every one else – to share his perspective on the “value” and “authority” of the bible. I myself am an Anglican christian, but my perspective on the bible (having studied the bible from the perspective of form- and literary-historical criticism for over 40 years) doesnt’ even come close. It simply isn’t possible to use the bible in the way Mr Brown does. Meanwhile, I’m afraid much of Mr Savage’s well-reasoned, well constructed perspective and arguments are lost on most hearers – pro and con.

  2. Otkon says

    I like the creepy juxtaposition of the prepubescent boy portraits with the bust of the bison (an animal that naturally exhibits homosexual behavior). The whole mise-en-scene is deliciously pederastic.

  3. Rob says

    I watched the debate. Brian Brown appeared to just repeat the speeches he gives to his Christian conservative supporters. Also I was disgusted when he continued to state that gay people that were legally married now that those marriages were not real. That it wasn’t reality!! I was incredulous with that continued statement. Also there was no discussion regarding equal protection under the US Constitution or the many court cases that have ruled that being gay is an immutable trait that can’t be changed. In addition they were debating a book in which the majority of stories and fables in it cannot be proven, and there is little or no evidence of who the actual authors were. Dan was correct many things in the Bible are incorrect and wrong and to cherry pick verses to make a whole section of the population of this world wrong who are to be hated is also very wrong just like slavery was and is. Brian is a hired gun and can’t be reasoned with because of how he makes a living. The mistake here is that he would lose his job if he wavered from his stated positions. He’ll go work for some other lobbying or activist group when NOM starts to lose big. The difference here us that it’s just a job to Brian. To us it’s our lives, our families, our jobs, our beings. That is a huge difference. Brian is paid not to care!

  4. says

    personally I would not bring a bigot into my home.
    Second the mise en scene is not to my taste.
    Third, I am sick to the teeth of all these one-book-creed junkies whether they are peddling the ;
    Book of Mormon
    They are all smug arrogant pricks who think they speak for “God”…..there is not a spark of humility among them.
    And they are all creeps.

  5. Dastius Krazitauc says

    Of course Brian Brown is not going to change his mind, he is not just a random bigot, he is a high-profile, professional bigot. He gets paid to have that POV. This debate showed he is neither intelligent or eloquent, so his marketable talent for now and post-NOM is frothing out religious talking points.

  6. Steven says

    Brown literally does froth at the mouth around the 41 minute mark. I actually had to skip ahead bc watching those white goobers dangling from his pizza lips almost made me vom.

  7. luminum says

    When you say “all that reason”, you must just mean “faith”. Faith is not reason, Brian. It is definitively the opposite. Faith is based (and subsequently valued by every “share” or stupid comment online) because it is action and belief based on absolutely nothing but feeling. Again, not “reason”.

  8. says

    Well, as one who actually watched the whole damn thing it was disappointing, only in that it proved a point many of us already knew – for the anti-gay bigots of the world who have nothing good about themselves to be proud of, there is no room to change their minds.

    being anti-gay is all they have left. without it, what does Brown bring to the world? what’s his purpose? what’s his worth? ZILCH.

    you can’t expect facts, logic and reason to have any impact on people whose chosen set of beliefs can only be maintained by IGNORING facts, logic and reason.

    brown is part of the willfully ignorant conservative demographic that needs to maintain a delusion in order to feel good in life.

    pity them. they’re literally worthless.

  9. jamal49 says

    @JACKFKNTWIST Couldn’t have said it better. My language describing what the “one-bookers” is somewhat more harsh and would probably get me banned from Towleroad for life.

  10. ihatebrownsuits says

    Dan was very civil, I could not have been so. I’m not sure if Brian is actually listening. A part of me wants to think he is hearing and understanding, but for what ever reason he continues to go back to these ideals about what appears to me as a single almost metaphysical definition of marriage. IMHO, I think he fails to understand we are all spiritual beings in search of our soul mates, and that our soul force is outside the bounds of physical sexuality. I would like to see more healthy debates between our side and the anti-gays. Thanks for this Dan.

    Brian, I’ll buy you a new suit if you promise you’ll never wear that brown one again. You’d look much better in black.

  11. says

    I dislike Dan Savage and Terry Miller almost as much as I dislike Brian Brown, but I’m in 100% agreement with the latter: This “debate” was a waste of time. But Savage certainly wouldn’t think so, since he got the photo op he wanted.

  12. Michael Bedwell says

    TRANSLATION of what Brown said: People like Dan Savage are fools to believe they can change our minds. [SUBTEXT: I’m PAID over $200,000 a year to preach hate—why should I stop? He played directly into my hands by making ME appear reasonable and courageous for entering the faggot’s den.] PROOF Brown and his fellow Xtianist fascists won: they’ve created a new Website devoted solely to the “debate” and featuring the video. THAT SOUND you hear: NOM’s cash registers going, “KA-CHING!” to supplement the money they’re raising with their mass mailing about 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.”

    There’s some ridiculous belief that millions of people “on the fence” watched/will watch the video, and Savage’s brilliance will convince them to support gay rights. Nonsense.

  13. Zlick says

    I haven’t had the chance yet to watch the debate, but -um- it’s a Debate. It is not the point of a debate to persuade your opposing debater to switch to your side. A formal debate is directed at an audience. It’s function is precisely for people to present opposing views.

  14. jsb says

    Did anybody seriously think that the outcome would be any different than it was? It was a waste of time and effort, we need to work in areas that actually have a remote chance of success.

  15. Maurice says

    Savage made the common mistake of not slapping down the polygamy argument for what it is: a non sequitur.

    The issue here is that gays are denied the same rights as straight people, which is legally recognized spousal couples. In other words, difference is that couples of opposite genders are permitted something that couples of the same gender are not, which is gender discrimination at it’s core.

    Polygamy is an arrangement between three or more people, and is denied to EVERYONE in the US, not just a select minority.

Leave A Reply