Well, it finally happened. Months in the making, Dan Savage and Brian Brown battled it out in “The Dinner Table Debate,” discussing LGBT issues and Christianity and moderated by Mark Oppenheimer.
First, some background. In April, Savage, a sex columnist and originator of “It Gets Better,” an anti-bullying campaign, gave a speech in April to 3,000 high school students, during which some of his comments led to 24 high schoolers walking out. During his speech, Savage said that the origin of much anti-gay bullying comes from the Bible.
“We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people,” Savage said. “The same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things.”
After Brian Brown, the conservative president for the anti-gay-marriage advocacy organization the National Organization for Marriage, heard about Savage’s speech, he challenged the columnist on his organization’s blog, writing:
“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.”
Savage was game. On his weekly Savage Love podcast, Savage accepted Brown’s challenge and offered to hold the debate at his dining room table in Seattle. “Bring the wife, my husband will be there,” Savage said. “You have to acknowledge my humanity by accepting my hospitality, and I have to acknowledge yours by extending my hospitality to you.”
Brown agreed and he and Savage agreed to have Mark Oppenheimer, a New York Times journalist, to moderate the debate due to his “history of writing extensively about both sides in the marriage fight.” Oppenheimer wrote about the experience for The New York Times. (Savage’s neighbor, a straight husband and father and gifted chef, prepared dinner which was enjoyed by Savage, his husband Terry, their son DJ, Brown, and Brown’s wife prior to the debate.) The Cliff’s Notes? Neither Savage nor Brown walked away having budged an inch on their positions; however, the debate was civil and passionate and absolutely worth watching in full above. [NY Times]