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Savage v Brown: The Video

That much-awaited kitchen table debate between Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage and Dan Savage took place at Savage’s home in Seattle and, as promised, the entire thing was recorded and is now available on Youtube.

One of the really interesting moments is when the moderator asked the two men if there was any possible evidence that could make them change their minds. Savage went first and said that if allowing same-sex marriage really did lead down some slippery slope to legalizing beastiality or child molestation, he might change his mind. Pressed to answer the same question, Brown was at least honest: Nothing would change his mind. Even if all those arguments he makes constantly about how marriage equality is going to destroy marriage never come true, he will continue to oppose it.

Why? Because, quite frankly, I don’t think he actually believes those things. Those are just pretexts, spook stories to justify and cover up for the real reason why he opposes marriage equality, which is plain old fashioned bigotry.

Comments

  1. ArtK says

    “It’s icky” just doesn’t work as a sound bite.

    I was interested to read a comment from Savage saying that it was a bad idea to host this in his home. He said he felt as if he had to be nicer than if it were in a neutral location.

  2. footface says

    I said it before, but watch the video and take note of Brown’s incessant tone trolling, persecution claiming, and ass-talking-out-of.

  3. Michael Heath says

    I’ve yet to watch the full debate, however Andrew Sullivan’s posted a several minute segment he inappropriately calls the ‘money quote’. That segment contains the topic which Ed raises here.

    In that segment I was surprised to see Dan Savage take a classically conservative approach to supporting the legalization of gay marriage but not polygamy, which was the argument that some people suffer in polygamous relationships. This opens the door to majoritarian democracies*, with some justification, prohibiting just about anything. That’s given the fact we’ll always find abuses of a right if we look hard enough. It also validates the political savviness of bigots misconstruing the societal results of gays being open and exercising their rights equally; while savvy, it’s still an unconscionable approach.

    Mr. Savage’s less than compelling defense of gay rights by selling polygamists down the river points to the wisdom of gay rights advocate promoting a better argument which is continually pounded home when this topic is raised. That’s in order to better defend against the bigots’ classic slippery slope attack against gays which has them avoiding actually dealing with gay rights and the rights of their families.

    *As opposed to liberal democracies.

  4. D. C. Sessions says

    Mr. Heath:

    It’s not unreasonable to keep the issues separate. One can do so without conceding those not under discussion.

  5. laurie says

    Brown seems to be actually foaming at the mouth around minute 41. Kind of gross, really. He’s hard to watch, both because of the mouth thing, and because he never really answers any of the questions. He simply goes on with his feigned victim hood in place and complains about his organization being picked on and misunderstood.

  6. Jeremy Shaffer says

    Did anyone else get the impression that Brown seems to regard heterosexual marriage to be a magical incantation that does, well, something? I’m not sure what it’s supposed to do in Brown’s mind because everything he mentioned either doesn’t require marriage, civil or religious, or isn’t remotely guaranteed by marriage.

  7. piegasm says

    There needs to be a rule book for these sort of things whereby the participants get called out by the moderator for committing logical fallacies and factual errors. Then there might actually be some value in them as a means to educating people.

  8. D. C. Sessions says

    According to Wikipedia, bestiality is already legal in 37 states, including Texas.

    I agree that it’s kind of noteworthy until you realize that hypocrisy is a very long-standing tradition in Texas.

  9. says

    There needs to be a rule book for these sort of things whereby the participants get called out by the moderator for committing logical fallacies and factual errors.

    Announcer 1: “Wait, wait! There’s a flag on the play! The left side ref just through out a flag on Mr D’Souza’s last remark…”
    Announcer 2: “Bob? Can you make out the flag?”
    (Sound of the crowd going wild)
    Announcer 1: “It’s red, white, red… based on the stripe, it’s a strike for some kind of logical fallacy. Let’s see…”
    Announcer 2: “This is so exciting! D’Souza’s obviously off his stride, this is, what, the 10th flag in 5 minutes?”
    Announcer 1: “I’ve decoded it, it’s a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy! With a green band around it, which means it’s a final warning!”
    Announcer 2: “This is going to be tough for D’Souza. He hasn’t managed to complete the beginning of his opening bit, without almost being eliminated on fallacies!”
    Announcer 1: “Well it could be part of a strategy to see if he can rattle Hitchens. You can see Hitch’s eyes are starting to bug out in frustration. Perhaps he’s hoping Hitch will be off balance going into the first turn…”
    Announcer 2: “The crowd is going wild! D’Souza is arguing with the referee while the second referee is pelting his back with warning flags!!”
    Announcer 1: “I’ve never seen anything like this before!”
    Announcer 2: “That’s it! They’re waving the black jolly roger, D’Souza is eliminated!”
    (roar of crowd)

  10. ewanmacdonald says

    Mr. Heath:

    It’s not unreasonable to keep the issues separate. One can do so without conceding those not under discussion.

    But he didn’t keep them separate. Had he refused to be drawn on polygamy, that would keep them separate – but he offered an opinion.

    I’ve yet to watch the full debate but the early signs are not encouraging.

  11. Quantum Mechanic says

    LightningRose:

    According to Wikipedia, bestiality is already legal in 37 states

    Check for reading comprehension. It says bestiality is specifically illegal in 37 states, and persecuted under animal cruelty laws in several others.

  12. shrunk says

    The “slippery slope to polygamy” argument does seem to often cause problems for advocates of marriage equality. As I see it, the correct response is this: If there is a “slippery slope” to polygamy, it does not start with marriage equality, Rather, it starts with the idea of religious freedom. Here in Canada, we recently had a case where the anti-polygamy law was challenged on the basis that it violated the freedom of religious practice. The provincial supreme court actually agreed with this, but nonetheless held that the harm caused by polygamy justified this violation. However, it remains possible that the Supreme Court of Canada will rule differently, and say that freedom of religion overrides any such concerns.

    IOW, if polygamy ever is legalized, it will most likely be as a result of Mormons or Muslims demanding their religious freedom, and not have anything to do with gay marriage. What this means is that the very principle that churches rely on to avoid being compelled to perform same sex marriage ceremonies in jursidictions where gay marriage is recongized is the principle that is most likely to lead to legalized polygamy. Yet I somehow doubt the churches will be giving up this right in order to protect society from polygamists.

  13. says

    What I found interesting is that Brown didn’t point out a single measurable negative effect of gay marriage on heterosexual marriage (not that I think they exist). He talked about how Regnerus was being persecuted by academia. Savage handed him a pile of research and Brown looked like he didn’t want to even touch it. Brown’s arguments seemed to consist of variations on “heteros-only marriage is traditional” and “we’re not bigots”. It appears that evidence is irrelevant to his position. Did I miss something?

  14. Midnight Rambler says

    Even if all those arguments he makes constantly about how marriage equality is going to destroy marriage never come true, he will continue to oppose it.

    It’s even better when you watch through the whole rest of it – his best argument about the negative effects of SSM doesn’t even have anything to do with marriage or childrearing or any other argument that you normally hear, but that kids will be taught that homosexuality is not evil and people like him will be called bigots.

  15. Midnight Rambler says

    Also, I think the best argument against polygamy is a legal one – how do you deal with things like medical decisions when the 2+ spouses disagree with each other? I don’t see any problem with polyamory/multiple partners, but when you have legal recognition of multiple marriages it creates a morass of problems that would require a lot of rewriting of laws at the very least. That’s something that doesn’t exist with legalizing SSM.

  16. shrunk says

    It’s even better when you watch through the whole rest of it – his best argument about the negative effects of SSM doesn’t even have anything to do with marriage or childrearing or any other argument that you normally hear, but that kids will be taught that homosexuality is not evil and people like him will be called bigots.

    Incredibly, that argument seems to be a common theme among the anti-gay marriage movement. Maggie Gallagher, who was mentioned in the debate, makes the same argument here:

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/05/ask-maggie-anything-what-harm-has-same-sex-marriage-caused.html

    It’s a truly bizarre line of reasoning: That the extension of a basic human right to a segment of the population should not occur if it means the people who oppose this are going to be criticized. I just can’t get my head around this kind of “logic”. I can only think that they think the tactic most likely to work for them is to assume the status of victim and play the pity card.

    I also cannot fathom Brown’s claim that “gay marriage” is an oxymoron like “square circle”. If that’s really the case, then his entire argument collapses. Legalizing gay marriage could not threaten “traditional marriage” anymore than passing a law sayng that circles are square will magically make all circles have four corners.

    Really, I know debating these morons is necessary at the moment, but they don’t actually deserve anything more than derision, pity, and to be ignored.

  17. Michael Heath says

    I’ve started watching the whole debate. One notable item is that the debate was to be framed around Savage’s point in front of 3000 high school journalism students; that was the infamous episode where about 24 students walked-out and their doing so became a viral video. It also went viral because Savage made some provocative comments about those students who walked out, which he now regrets and repeatedly apologizes for now (which was an interesting topic in this venue given many people argued he shouldn’t have apologized). Savage’s original point was that the Bible’s [supposed] edicts on homosexuality are morally wrong; that Christians have an obligation to reject those edicts just like they’ve rejected the old and new covenant edicts promoting and enabling slavery and other reprehensible behaviors mandated by the Bible (several of which Savage names).

    Brian Brown challenged Savage to a debate where the Bible was a central premise. He wanted to respond to Savage’s comments. So the debate opens with Dan Savage taking about twelve minutes to do a wonderfully crafted argument on why evangelical and fundamentalists do not have to change their theology to embrace gay families. That they can embrace gay marriage just like they’ve rejected slavery as immoral, and given our approach to governance, even those who reject gay marriage and families headed by gays should still tolerate such in pluralstic society. The latter is asserted without much of an argument, these minutes are predominately consumed with Savage making the argument Christians should and have embraced gays and their families.
    That’s it a “false dichotomy” (noted at least twice) to claim that Christianity by default rejects gays.

    I highly recommend watching that segment for all of us who appreciate a beautifully crafted argument, regardless of where we stand on the subject. It’s not a complete argument when it comes to current Christian bigotry towards gays where they leverage the Bible. E.g., Savage doesn’t get into how some passages argue Christians are mandated to love and support gay families in contradiction to the passages which mandates we kill them, but it’s a wonderfully articulate argument in only 12 minutes.

  18. says

    I can’t listen now, but if I recall, Brown mentioned that his position is a First Principle, which, if we were to accept has his genuine position, then there is absolutely no point to debating anything else. Everything he says can be proven false, but he’ll assert that his position is the morally irreducible, correct position and it can’t be changed by any means, by any fact, by any evidence, by anything whatsoever.

    Of course, this can be, and often is, a license for some serious indecency. I prefer to run moral rules by my own gut check, as well as taking regular consultations with other people and my capacity for empathy. These days, as a rule of thumb, I take the invocation of First Principles in religious morality as functionally the same as an asshole alert. Might not be an asshole, but probably is.

  19. says

    @4 micheal h

    In that segment I was surprised to see Dan Savage take a classically conservative approach to supporting the legalization of gay marriage but not polygamy, which was the argument that some people suffer in polygamous relationships. This opens the door to majoritarian democracies*, with some justification, prohibiting just about anything.

    I don’t think its fair to characterize an ongoing violation of the rights of children as “some people get hurt”. You are ignoring that polygamy is used as a social system to abuse people and alienate them from the outside world. Polygamy isn’t an issue of adults making poor choices and hurting each other, its an issue of adult men coercing women and children into sexual relationships and hurting them (and also forcing boys out of society so they can continue their aquisition of chattel women). There is no equivalent issue with gay marriage, period. Why the hell would anyone treat the two issues the same when discussing legislation? Legislation should be somewhat concerned with the actual practical implications of a law instead of being some mental wankery about what would be legal if the world didn’t have such annoying inconveniences like what happens to people if you pass laws that affect them. Think for a minute.

  20. Michael Heath says

    Brian Brown’s opening salvo is a classic Gish Gallop’s, so it’s hard to stomach. Most ironically, many of false assertions are ones that Savage previously addressed with true assertions which preemptively falsify Brown’s following remarks.

  21. jamessweet says

    Okay, so, I am well aware that I have a weakness where I just can’t put up with hearing what the fucking shitbags have to say, even though somebody needs to listen to their arguments and refute them, and so I wondered how far I would get into Brian Brown’s side before I turned it off.

    48 seconds. And that’s including the part where he thanks Dan for hosting him.

    I’m sorry, I just can’t take that shit. I mean, WOW. He’s playing the fucking persecution angle? FIRST? As a CHRISTIAN? Against a GAY MAN?

    Fuck you, Brian Brown, you worthless lying piece of shit.

  22. says

    Doesn’t Dan Savage realize that, if Big Homo gets it’s way, people like Brian Brown will no longer be allowed to take State funding from the Public, while discriminating against part of that very same Public?! Dan Savage is history’s worst monster!

  23. Michael Heath says

    I wrote earlier:

    In that segment I was surprised to see Dan Savage take a classically conservative approach to supporting the legalization of gay marriage but not polygamy, which was the argument that some people suffer in polygamous relationships. This opens the door to majoritarian democracies*, with some justification, prohibiting just about anything.

    skeptifem responds:

    I don’t think its fair to characterize an ongoing violation of the rights of children as “some people get hurt”. You are ignoring that polygamy is used as a social system to abuse people and alienate them from the outside world.

    I did not ignore the fact some people get hurt in polygamous structures, you even quote my pointing this out. Using your framework which follows we’ll have to make Christian evangelicism and fundamentalism illegal because this group, in your very words, also ‘abuse people’, especially children, and seek to either ‘alienate themselves from the world’ or transform government to their worldview. I know this because I was raised in that very environment back in the 1960s and 70s. Nowadays kids like me often don’t even have the luxury of escaping through their public school education, these kids are increasingly home-schooled or sent to private fundie/evangelical K-12 schools.

    Do you think we should make such religious practices illegal? I assume not, yet here your argument mandates we do given my argument was that majoritarian democracy allows for such prohibitions if the majority hates a particular ‘other’ and they can scrape up some evidence, even if it’s not true, these practices are harming at least some people.

    skeptifem:

    There is no equivalent issue with gay marriage, period. Why the hell would anyone treat the two issues the same when discussing legislation? Legislation should be somewhat concerned with the actual practical implications of a law instead of being some mental wankery about what would be legal if the world didn’t have such annoying inconveniences like what happens to people if you pass laws that affect them. Think for a minute.

    Well, I’ve been thinking about this issue for decades now. And I didn’t make this argument that gay marriage isn’t harmful to others while polygamy is therefore it’s OK to have the former while keeping the latter illegal, Dan Savage did. My argument for gay marriage is based on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Given that polygamist proponents ask for legal protections beyond what is currently and equally protected wherever gay marriage is legal, the 14th Amendment isn’t relevant in the polygamist debate. As shrunk smartly points out in his above comment post, the religious freedom clause is relevant and perhaps a couple of others.

    And to my bigger point, you miss my pointing out that we live in a democracy, but which kind? Some false science has and will continue to be used to promote a cause, oftentimes successfully as we see when it comes to our inability to mitigate the effects of climate change and now I predict the Regnerus study when it comes to Republicans obstructing passage of gay marriage laws. Your point that there is science which reveals gay marriage isn’t harmful can be easily though falsely refuted by simple majorities there is. It’s Savage’s majoritarian perspective which has me disparaging Savage for arguing from the perspective of majoritarian democracy rather than liberal democracy. We’ve long known majorities can be tyrannical, that we must protect ourselves through the protection of our rights, even if the exercise of those rights can be harmful to some others, as long as our exercise of those rights are superior to the harm done to those who suffer where we also prioritize some rights, religious freedom and speech for example, over other rights, in spite of some coming to great harm because of this priority, like the kids of fundies, evangelicals and in polygamous households.

  24. Michael Heath says

    Re Dan Savage’s masterful opening and then Brian Brown’s Gish Gallop: Mr. Savage provides one of the most devastating counters to a Gish Gallop I can remember. I think this reveals a lot about Savage given how frustrating it can be to sit quietly while your opponent gallops along for 10 minutes as Mr. Brown did. He focused on a few of the major themes and had some incredible recall on those false points and responding with coherent and compelling counters.

  25. jamessweet says

    Ooph, we’re talking polygamy as a marriage equality issue? That’s a thorny place to go. Look, here’s how I see it in a nutshell:

    1) There are tactical reasons to distance same-sex marriage from polygamy — the former is about ready to happen, the latter (independent of whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing) is not.

    2) There are practical reasons why it is easier to recognize same-sex marriage then polygamy. Marriage law right now only comprehends a two-person relationship. Same-sex marriage doesn’t change that; polygamy does. Recognizing same-sex marriage requires no more complicated bureaucratic reform than possibly reprinting some pieces of paper (or even just crossing out “Husband” and “Wife” and putting “Spouse” and “Spouse”). Recognizing polygamy is a much more ambitious legislative project.

    3) In a hypothetical alternate universe where children of same sex couples were far worse off than their peers, or same sex relationships tended to be abusive and exploitative, would marriage equality still be appropriate public policy? I tend to lean towards “yes” (we don’t legislatively disallow assholes from getting married, even though it surely sucks for the assholes’ kids), but it’s a difficult debate to have. Luckily, the data on same-sex relationships is clear: committed same sex relationships do not on average suffer any significant disadvantages over equivalent opposite sex relationships. This is less clear when it comes to polygamy, where there seems to be a very real correlation with exploitation. Whether this correlation is fundamental, or just a matter of circumstance, is not entirely clear at this point.

    The case I am making here is this: It may well be that polygamy ought to be recognized. I am undecided myself, but certainly one can make a powerful argument that it is not really the government’s business how many partners a person wishes to have. However, same sex marriage equality is much more of a slam dunk, both pragmatically and theoretically. Not only is same sex marriage equality a political possibility (while recognition of polygamy really is not possible at present), but in addition, there exist valid anti-polygamy arguments. I am not saying those arguments outweigh the ones in favor of recognition of polygamy (again, I am undecided), but it is a far cry from same sex marriage, where literally none of the arguments against have any validity to them whatsoever.

    So while I allow that possibly polygamy should be recognized anyway, with the arguments being roughly analogous to those in favor of recognizing same sex marriage, the two are just not really equivalent right now.

  26. Michael Heath says

    Dan Savage takes on polygyny in a segment prior to the segment Andrew Sullivan published. That argument was a reaction to the point being raised, he didn’t raise it. His response was mostly stellar stuff with the exception, I think, of his arguing polygyny hurts others where he quoted Jonathan Rauch. Savage would have been off using only the other argument he also used in this segment. That argument was brilliant.

    In that second argument Savage pushes the polygyny debate back over to the bigots’ side since gays aren’t seeking polyamorous marriages but instead just some heterosexuals where Savage also sagely noted the Old Testament has their back. However Savage finishes the entire debate making an argument that marriage should be limited to two consenting adults and therefore not more than two where he again referred to the Rauch argument to defend his two. So Savage finishes far weaker than the bulk of his argument which is far better than his ending.

    Brian Brown is left one with very weak though standing argument. He brings up the infinitesimal victimization which religious bigots have faced and will increasingly face as justification for the prohibition of equal rights for gays. Unbelievable, and it went largely un-responded to by Savage. I think it’s the second of two flaws in Savage’s debate performance, where given it’s a verbal debate which is far more difficult than a written one, has me concluding Savage’s debate performance was fucking-A brilliant.

    Probably the biggest lie Brian Brown not only repeatedly asserted, but primarily depended on, was that allowing gays to marry somehow destroys heterosexual marriage. Of course he couldn’t defend this position, but that didn’t stop him from continuing to rely on it.

    Another whopper of a lie Brown repeatedly asserted as if it was self-evidently true, that the issue of gay marriage only recently arises because of more liberal divorce laws and marriage no longer being about children but instead about “desire” (wink, wink). He completely avoids the fact of gays coming out and therefore now demanding equal protection of their rights.

    Brown’s argument that gay marriage is due to the loss of the centrality of children in heterosexual marriage is complete bullshit, even as recent as the early-Post War II era. In an agricultural society the primary motivation for having kids, beyond the biological urge, was help on the farm. Kids weren’t the central focus of a family, the husband and then wife in a subservient role were. Kids were a critical byproduct of that union, but not the central motivation -which has always been about our desire for a mate(s). That plays nicely into Savage’s argument and he makes it, Brown of course avoids that argument at all costs, in spite of having just had dinner with Dan’s husband and son.

    I’ve long lamented the fact the gay marriage movement didn’t have a MLK Jr., though my lamentation was weakly affected given that gays are securing their rights far faster than black Americans so maybe this movement doesn’t need one much. However I’ve thought for awhile now that Dan Savage has risen to hero-level status when it comes to our moral progress on the gay marriage fight. His It Gets Better series is incredibly uplifting, where his families’ video and the story he told tonight about his son being rejected by three heterosexual couples prior to this and his husband Terry’ adopting him really personalizes what this debate is actually about.

  27. Michael Heath says

    jamessweet writes:

    There are tactical reasons to distance same-sex marriage from polygamy — the former is about ready to happen, the latter (independent of whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing) is not.

    Which even Brian Brown preemptively conceded. I agree since it goes into the unrealistic abstract when we’re talking about the lives of about 3% – 6% of our population, more when you consider children who are effected when gays can or can’t marry.

    jamessweet:

    So while I allow that possibly polygamy should be recognized anyway, with the arguments being roughly analogous to those in favor of recognizing same sex marriage, the two are just not really equivalent right now.

    Dan Savage did a brilliant job pushing this whole debate back into a debate belonging in the heterosexual camp. That this is their issue, not gays who are merely looking for their equal rights to be protected, which requires their marrying only one adult.

  28. scott says

    #20- “I prefer to run moral rules by my own gut check”

    That’s what frightens me so much about hardcore fundamentalists: they don’t do that. So you have events like the blasphemy accusations in Pakistan; people don’t pause to ask “Am I sure killing an illiterate little girl is right?”, but just shout the Arabic equivalent of ‘Deus vult!’ and start looking for stones.

  29. footface says

    Let’s say Brown is right. He’s not, but let’s say he is when it comes to the centrality of children in marriage. Fine. So what? How does it follow that two men shouldn’t be able to marry? Yes, they won’t all by themselves make children, but how does that negate the (purported) centrality of children to marriage? If children are no longer the focus/purpose of marriage, that’s not same-sex couples’ doing.

    Full disclosure: Dan Savage officiated at my wedding in ’97.

  30. godlesspanther says

    I have not watched the video, just read this brief description. I thought that Brian Brown’s answer to that particular question is very telling. When Brown says that nothing — absolutely nothing — can change his mind, he is admitting that he is not and cannot be rational about this issue. He can’t be reasoned with.

    Now — for the general public — why should you take someone seriously when he has admitted that he can’t be reasoned with? He has admitted that his view is irrational.

  31. eoraptor013 says

    I get that modern cases of polygamy are fraught (The FLDS?). It is also clear that where polygamy is legal, one often finds abuse, restrictions of freedoms and rights, and abuse of children. It’s not all that clear to me, however, that these problems are inherent to poly- relationships. It is at least theoretically possible that multiple husbands/wives can live in peace, harmony, and happiness. The problems arise from the practitioners.

    I also don’t think there are significant legal reasons to oppose poly relationships. Partnership law goes back to the end of the middle ages and the rise of the mercantile class. Since, IMHO, the only rationale for the government to stick its nose into marriage is to govern the rights, duties, benefits, and responsibilities, of the parties, I don’t see why they can’t perform that service with multiple parties, just like they do with partnerships.

    With respect to government regulation of marriage, marriage equality, and the rest, I think a lot of people don’t realize — or don’t stop to think — that the religious leader is wearing two hats when performing a marriage: the obvious one of placing a religious imprimatur on the union of two people, and the less obvious government function of creating a… wait for it… domestic partnership. And, by a literal reading of the Constitution, all those religious ceremonies should have been completely incompetent to seal the legally sanctioned partnership. In other words, the default relationship for everybody should be a domestic partnership, with religious solemnization for those who care to do so. (Yes, I realize that “domestic partnerships” applied only to gays is a second-class, separate-but-equal, fallacy.)

  32. Hatchetfish says

    On the point of polygamy and next of kin decision making, I just have to point out: Yeah, totally intractable. I mean, look at how impossible it is to handle more than one person having a say in the treatment of children. It just never works and most kids die of childhood diseases because legally it’s impossible to treat them.

    Or, you know, people form a consensus and stuff gets done, and the occasional cases of an unreasonable buttheads who can’t tend to end up in courtrooms, same as with any issue. It’s not exactly a unique and unprecedented situation demanding of Solomonic wisdom or novel feats of legislation.

  33. shrunk says

    Michael Heath writes:

    Dan Savage did a brilliant job pushing this whole debate back into a debate belonging in the heterosexual camp. That this is their issue, not gays who are merely looking for their equal rights to be protected, which requires their marrying only one adult.

    I would just take that a bit further and reiterate that it is not heterosexuals as a whole who are asking for legalized ppolygamy. It is heterosexual religious fundamentalists who are demanding that the laws of the state be conceived in accordance to their beliefs i.e. who are doing exactly the same thing that Brown and his fellow antigay bigots are doing.

    I think the whole issue of polygamy also get complicated because there are two separate issues involved: The legal recognition of polygamous relationships as equivalent in terms of conjugal rights to monogamous relationships, and its status as a criminal offence. The latter could be eliminated without accepting the former.

  34. says

    The “slippery slope to polygamy” argument does seem to often cause problems for advocates of marriage equality. As I see it, the correct response is this: If there is a “slippery slope” to polygamy, it does not start with marriage equality, Rather, it starts with the idea of religious freedom.

    Easiest answer: who cares?

    Remove the social value of marriage that is conferred by the government – tax preference, etc. and the state can step completely out of the marriage business. Let “marriage” and its associated rights and privileges be negotiated contractually. It would take very very little time before there were boilerplate contracts for various types of “marriages” and, game over. Install a flat tax for inherited wealth regardless of how it’s divided up (the rich would scream but fuck ‘em) and allow everyone to register their preferences in terms of hospital visitation, etc, in a central database that they could update at any time, require hospitals to follow it. Switch insurance to individual and group, where the group could be any arbitrary group and let the insurance companies figure out the rate schedule. None of it’s rocket science at all (it’s basically what we’ve had to do now, except that the state is still in the marriage business because of religious nutbaggery and taxes).

    Yes, I am one of those atheists who wants to “destroy marriage as an institution.” Why not? It’s been meaningless all along!

  35. baal says

    I’m mixed on the issue of polygamy – there seem to be two very different camps who would want poly-marriage. There are the Mormon/Muslim side who are really arguing for having multiple wives – here is also where we see the desire for the later added wives to be younger than the current wife and the attendant questions of consent and what to do with the ‘extra males.’ The second group are the polyamourous (usu. kinky but not always). The that case the ‘harem’ effect is discouraged and participants seem to learn more toward hippy liberalism. I can see logistical problem for the 2nd group but it doesn’t have the clear harms of the first.
    ~~~
    I listened to the whole thing – Brian Brown was hard to listen to but as Dr.X (and a few others) noted, he did admit (obliquely) to the harm that gay marriage does to ‘marriage.’ Brown allowed that if the definition of marriage was Dan’s version, Brown (and his ilk) would no longer have ‘marriage’ as a bulwark against not only being called a bigot but that Brown’s side would need to concede that they were bigots or come up with new reasons why kids couldn’t be taught having 2 daddies is wrongful.
    ~~~
    The implication of Brown’s concession is that pro-gay marriage folks should point out how LGBTQ folks do have long term loving relationships and that they also have kids and the kids turn out A-ok. Those facts entirely undermine Brown’s central thesis.

  36. baal says

    Ironically – (and I’m not suggesting it’s a good idea, it’s actually short sighted), if you could convince Brian Brown that his other bigotry is defensible from a ‘first principal’ so that he need not rely on a specific and engineered definition of ‘first principle marriage’, he might be more willing to let gays get married.

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