Dan Savage Proposes Venue for His Debate with NOM’s Brian Brown

Jim Burroway

May 23rd, 2012

Earlier this month, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, in a fundraising letter and blog post, challenged Dan Savage to a debate:

Let me lay down a public challenge to Dan Savage right here and now: You want to savage the Bible? Christian morality? Traditional marriage? Pope Benedict? I’m here, you name the time and the place and let’s see what a big man you are in a debate with someone who can talk back. It’s easy to make high-school girls cry by picking on them. Let’s pick on someone our own size!

Savage quickly picked up the challenge, saying he will name the time and place. In yesterday’s Savage Love podcast, Savage named the place:

Where? My dining room table. Place? Seattle, Washington. Here’s the deal. We can fill a room with my screaming partisans and your screaming partisans and we’ll both play to our respective peanut galleries and I think both of us have a little bit of grandstander in our souls and we will work that and I think that will create more heat than light.

And so what I’d like to do is challenge you to come to my house for dinner. Bring the wife. My husband will be there. and I will hire a video crew and we will videotape sort of an after dinner debate. The trick here is you have to acknowledge my humanity by accepting my hospitality and I have to acknowledge yours by extending my hospitality to you. And I’m willing to do that.

The New York Times’s Mark Oppenheimer will moderate the debate. amd the unedited video tape will be posted online. Brian Brown has yet to accept the response to his original anytime/anyplace challenge.

Priya Lynn

May 23rd, 2012

I think more likely than not Brown will find an excuse not to attend.

Gene in L.A.

May 23rd, 2012

If Brown accepts, there’ll be brown toast on the table.


May 23rd, 2012

The trick here is you have to acknowledge my humanity by accepting my hospitality and I have to acknowledge yours by extending my hospitality to you. And I’m willing to do that.



May 23rd, 2012

In the next to the last sentence, the word should be ‘acknowledge’.

This is a great story that I’m eager to follow to its end. Let’s see if Brian is a big enough man to accept, since it was his challenge to begin with.


May 23rd, 2012

I have no love for Savage but sometimes he’s spot on.

Should this debate happen is Savage going to be willing to continue acknowledging Brown’s humanity by remaining polite? Or will the discourse slip into typical Savage buffoonery?


May 23rd, 2012

Blake – I think if you watch Dan Savage in interviews, or in his MTV show, his one-on-one interactions are far different from this public speeches, which makes sense. When he is speaking in public he is literally performing, but when he’s one-on-one with someone with a real problem, he is compassionate and decent. It’s also important to note that Dan Savage is a former Catholic seminarian, so knows the Bible pretty well and can rely on that knowledge to decimate Brown.

I see this as a total win-win for Savage. Brown likely will chicken out, not wanting to acknowledge the humanity of Savage’s family or equate it to his own (aside, I also find it interesting Dan did not mention if his teenaged son would be at the dinner – my guess is not). If Brown does decide to do the debate, he will lose, because he doesn’t have a moral leg to stand on.

Lindoro Almaviva

May 23rd, 2012

My money says Brian Brown will not attend and then will find a way to explain it using his “Dan Savage is oppressing me” meme


May 24th, 2012

Savage is one of my favorite people, mainly because he can gleefully meld pedantic childishness, “an OMG that’s insightful observation” incisiveness, and a frequent unwillingness to apply values where you think he might, but instead go for fundamentals like honesty, trust, and self-confidence. His trio of “How’d That Happen” letters and responses from Savage Love are required reading in my house (having a pee, dog fetish, or enjoying bi sex, he says, is not the writer’s problem; failing to take responsibility and acknowledge the fetish instead of claiming it “just happened”, however, is),

My point is, there was such opportunity for bringing out the heavy guns here, and instead he surprises us with class.

Make us proud, Dan.


May 24th, 2012

I predict that Mr. Brown will be busy that day.

Whichever day it is. However often it comes up. So sorry. Can’t make it.

As for his son, since Dan didn’t invite the Browns’ children, I assume that he won’t be present. Which is a good thing.


May 24th, 2012

I would find a debate between Savage and Brown interesting to watch and I agree with the majority of the posters here who think Brown won’t accept the challenge.

Even more interesting would be a panel discussion video taped with Brown, and any two Roman Catholic theologians, priests, or bishops he can get to participate and people like Michael Eric Dyson, Barry Lynn and Episcopal Bishop Robinson.

The whole argument is whether or not specific groups of religious leaders can force government to accept their doctrinal positions on matters of public policy. There is no evidence that any of the states nor the District of Columbia has had to deal with same sex couples attempting to force churches to conduct marriages for them. I know that there have been religious services in the District and quite possibly elsewhere, but like heterosexual marriages they have been at the discretion of the religious person involved.

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