First couples to get licenses in King County (via Joe Mirabella).
Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) certified the state’s election results Wednesday afternoon, and this morning at 12:01, same-sex couples began legally obtaining marriage licenses. Washington does have a three-day waiting period, however, so the first weddings cannot take place until Sunday. Many couples were on-hand at the King County (Seattle) and Thurston County (Olympia) auditors’ offices at the stroke of midnight to be among the first to get their licenses.
One of those couples was JP Persall and Diana Wickman, who have been together for 10 years. They both served 22 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, where they managed to meet and fell in love in spite of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The couple who received the very first marriage license, though, was Jane Abbott Lighty, 77, and Pete-e Peterson, 85, who have been together over 35 years. They met on a blind date in 1977 and believed they would die before they could legally wed.
Also on hand was Dan Savage. He married his husband Terry Miller in Canada in 2005, but decided to use the occasion to renew their vows now that it’s legal in the state where they live (in the country where they live). Here are a few more pictures from this morning’s historic milestone, courtesy of Joe Mirabella:
“It Gets Better” founder Dan Savage recently lashed out at the Family Research Council again, saying that “every dead gay kid is a victory for the Family Research Council” and that “Tony Perkins sits on a pile of dead gay kids every day when he goes to work.” Savage’s concerns arise because of how FRC encourages parents to reject their children for being LGBT, contributing to a higher risk of homelessness, drug use, sexually transmitted infection, and suicide. Perkins responded in a conversation with Mike Huckabee yesterday, saying that Savage “has some issues” and that FRC is “pursuing everything possible to deal with him because he is out of control.” Now, Savage is calling Perkins’ legal bluff:
I realize that this isn’t how you think the world is supposed to work, Tony. You believe — and you’re old enough to remember a time when — people like you were free to say vile and disgusting things about people like me without anyone objecting. Certainly people like me weren’t allowed to call people like you out. You still believe you should be free to lie about me and other LGBT people with absolutely impunity — we’re all pedophiles and terrorists and Satanists — and that we should have to shut up and take it because… well, I’m not sure why you think we’re not allowed to respond when you lie about us.
Maybe that’s something we could get to the bottom of during the depositions.
Savage’s original comments obviously occupy a rhetorical extreme that few tread upon, but they still bear truth. It’s notable, as Savage himself points out, that Perkins did nothing to rebut the remarks or clarify any particular concern for children’s well-being. He couldn’t genuinely do so anyway; by proliferating the junk-science idea that gays can and should change, FRC is causing exactly the kind of harm to which Savage refers.
The raw nature of Savage’s rhetoric illuminates how little accountability hate groups like FRC take for their anti-gay advocacy. Perkins’ new campaign against the Southern Poverty Law Center for the “hate group” designation — a flip for many of the conservatives rallying behind the effort — is the same kind of umbrage that obfuscates the harmful miseducation such groups churn out on a daily basis. Similarly, one of the National Organization for Marriage’s chief argument against equality is that conservatives will be labeled as “bigots,” but it then has no problem painting LGBT activists as violent or endorsing the harmful quackery that is ex-gay therapy.
Savage’s approach might not always be the most elegant, but it certainly does cut through the rhetorical muck and focus attention on the harm caused by anti-gay groups like FRC.
he National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown has written his own reflection about his recent debate with Dan Savage, attempting to further craft a bizarre narrative that somehow Dan Savage is the bully. Just as Brown ignored acknowledging same-sex families in the debate, he thanked Savage for the chance to meet “his partner and his child,” as opposed to his husband and their child. Then Brown went on to suggest that the LGBT community is “powerful” while ironically trumpeting Christian ideals of “equality”:
Christian teaching and practice was never rooted in racism, but in the radical equality of all people and peoples before God. The American South, under slavery, was the exception to the rule—which is one reason why, when challenged, the belief that Christianity can justify not only slavery but also racism, failed abjectly and is now a dead idea. That was Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s great triumph.
But sexual morality and marriage are quite different. Here we have the broad consistent sweep of the authoritative teaching of Christ and the Christian church he founded, recorded in the Bible, and in Christian teaching and practice across the centuries. Here we have something core to the Christian faith, and as I told Dan Savage, it’s not going to go away just because he doesn’t like it.[...]
Something about that dynamic captures what we all see at work at this point in the gay marriage debate. Power is being exercised by a minority, which denies it has the power it is exercising, and denies what we see happening in front of us: this power is being used to label and demonize all who disagree, no matter how relentlessly civilized we are, no matter that we uphold gay people’s real fundamental civil rights.
Brown’s cognitive dissonance is on grand display here. He concedes that the attempt to defend slavery with the Bible failed, but is unwilling to admit that his own defense of inequality with the Bible could fail just as easily (and does). He accuses the LGBT community of exerting power over Christians, but NOM’s regular talking point is to brag how majorities have voted against the right of the minority in 31 states. He co-opts the civil rights movement to defend his position while his organization accuses the LGBT community of doing the same to create a racial wedge. And he claims that he is the victim being demonized, even though he can’t even bring himself to acknowledge the very families he campaigns against daily. As Brown actually said in the debate (about divorce), “Just because you believe something is wrong, it doesn’t mean that you make it illegal,” and yet that is exactly what he has dedicated his life to doing with same-sex marriage.
It’s not surprising that Brown’s reflection relies upon various anonymous comments from supporters — comments NOM could only get by reposting its own copy of the debate video. He failed to make one cogent argument against same-sex marriage, relying entirely on self-victimization and obvious lies. The debate deserves to be watched widely so that Brown’s obvious spin about how the evening played out doesn’t distract from what actually took place:
The dinner before the debate (via Stuart Isett/New York Times).
The New York Times’ Mark Oppenheimer has written about his own perspective as moderator of the Dinner Table Debate between Dan Savage and the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown. It seems that both Brown and Savage, as well as Savage’s partner Terry Miller, found the debate to be unproductive:
MILLER: Brian’s heartless readings of the Bible, then his turns to ‘natural law’ when the Bible fails, don’t hide his bigotry and cruelty. In the end, that’s what he is. Cruel.
BROWN: 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. 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.
SAVAGE: Playing host put me in this position of treating Brian Brown like a guest. 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.
Indeed, Brown did not once acknowledge the lives of same-sex families or their children, even though he was enjoying one such family’s home and hospitality. But Savage perhaps underestimates how the civil tone demanded by his hosting may very well help viewers better appreciate the cogent arguments he was making, as opposed to how much more abrasive he may have let himself become in a hall with an audience cheering him on. Indeed, as Jeremy Hooper points out, NOM posted its own separate (and branded) copy of the debate video in hopes of getting more positive responses on YouTube, because the original video is overrun with comments criticizing Brown’s arguments.
Many who have watched the debate identified a key quote from Brown that encapsulates not only all of NOM’s hypocrisy, but also the cold reality that its motives must be connected to anti-gay animus. At one point in the debate, Oppenheimer challenged Brown to explain why, if his organization is so concerned about defending marriage, that it devotes all its resources to obstructing same-sex marriage instead of advocating against divorce. Brown explained, “Just because you believe something is wrong, it doesn’t mean that you make it illegal” — words he clearly doesn’t live by.
The anticipated debate between “It Gets Better” Project founder Dan Savage and the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, which came about after Savage made provocative statements noting that the Bible supports the practice of slavery, is now online for all to view. Savage and his family hosted Brown for dinner in their home, and afterward, Mark Oppenheimer of the New York Times hosted a dinner-table debate over the issue of same-sex marriage. Savage offered an articulate explanation of the many conflicts presented in the Bible, pointing out how it fails to align with the 21st Century Zeitgeist of morality and so serves no authority on the question of same-sex marriage. Brown, immediately citing the shooting at the Family Research Council (which happened the same day the debate was recorded), focused entirely on assuming the status of victim, claiming that the primary consequence of marriage equality is that individuals like him will be labeled as “bigots.” This passage seems to sum up Brown’s primary argument:
BROWN: What I see attempted here, and sometimes in other things that you’ve said that I think are much more colorful than what you’ve just laid out, is the notion that we are deserving — that those of us who know that marriage is the union of a man and a woman — that we are deserving of treatment less than others because we are bigots and we deserve what we get. And I don’t think that’s true. And I don’t think that that helps further the debate. And I think that the attack on Christianity, as I said earlier — I don’t think people look at that and say, “Hey, you know, Dan Savage has a point.” If anything, it makes people say, “Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this? This doesn’t further your argument.”
Watch the full hour-long debate:
For Brown’s point to be valid, there would have to be an actual campaign against the rights of Christians, which of course there isn’t, though there is very much a fight against the rights of gays and lesbians. What is most compelling about the debate is that Brown never mentions the existence of same-sex couples or their children, despite having just dined with such a family and continuing to sit in their household. Instead, he resorts to self-victimization and blatant refutations without any supporting evidence, simply saying “Dan, You’re wrong” time and time again. The few examples Brown cited to defend his arguments, such as the flawed Mark Regnerus study or the Ocean Grove Pavilion in New Jersey, were skillfully debunked by Savage.
Toward the end of the debate, Oppenheimer cornered Brown on what the actual fallout of same-sex marriage would be for heterosexual couples beyond the fact that he would be called a bigot, to which he had no meaningful response. Brown then admitted that decades of nationwide same-sex marriage without consequence still would not convince him to change his position.
Unfortunately, Brown largely talks past Savage, sticking to his talking points and refusing to consider any of the arguments made. NOM seems to believe it can capitalize off of the debate, judging from the graphic-riddled website it dedicated to the matter. In reality, all Brown managed to demonstrate is his ability to ignore the very existence of same-sex families while emphasizing his own self-righteousness.
Tony Perkins isn’t the only anti-gay conservative coming to dinner — so is the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown. Brown has accepted Dan Savage’s invitation to join his family for dinner and have a recorded debate moderated by Mark Oppenheimer from the New York Times. His only stipulation was that he wanted to bring his own camera crew, just to ensure that neither side distorts the debate. Savage replied that he’s going to have to scrub his home of all symbols of his Catholic heritage, lest Brown take offense:
It looks like I’m gonna have to clear all the Catholic kitch out of our living room and dining room — my 5′ plaster Jesus, our 3′ plaster Mary, all my other plaster saints, the dozens of rosaries hanging around their plaster necks, the stack of disintegrating hymnals on the mantle, etc. Wouldn’t want Brian to think there’s something disrespectful about our collection. Our Catholic kitch is all family heirlooms. My late grandfather’s rosaries, most of them prayed to pieces, were headed to the dump when I picked them out of the trash. But will knowing that my 5′ plaster Jesus has been evacuated to our bedroom be more of a torment for Brian?
The recorded meeting of these two dining and debating will be a serious milestone to watch — twice, to see what both camera crews capture and edit. Perkins’ dinner with the Family Equality Council’s Jennifer Chrisler will not be similarly documented, but the fallout will still be noteworthy. Perhaps Brown and Perkins believe this an important opportunity to stand on their principles, but perhaps these invitations have simply painted them into a corner. By accepting the invitations, they seem willing to at least dignify the humanity of these families, which is encouraging. If, however, they meet these children and then still persist in denying them the security of being legally connected to both of their parents, it will be that much harder — and uglier — for them to justify their anti-equality positions.
At a high school journalism conference last month, Dan Savage called out the Biblical hypocrisy when scripture is used to justify anti-gay positions while similar verses are ignored. The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown accused Savage of bullying and challenged him to a debate: “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 accepted this debate, and today on his podcast outlined exactly what time and place Brown could meet him:
SAVAGE: 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 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 knowledge 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.
Mark Oppenheimer, a New York Times journalist who has profiled both Savage and NOM’s Maggie Gallagher, has agreed to moderate the debate, and Savage’s neighbor will cook the meal. Brown will be allowed to confirm the tape has not been edited before it’s released so that there is “no trickery.”
Christian conservative groups are condemning Dan Savage — the founder of the anti-bullying It Gets Better project — for “bullying” religious students who walked out of a recent lecture in which the popular sex columnist pointed out “the hypocrisy of people who justify anti-gay bigotry by pointing to the Bible and insisting that we must live by the code of Leviticus on this one issue and no other.”
Savage made the remarks at the National High School Journalism Conference, causing a group of students to walk out as he began discussing the moral problems contained within the religious document:
SAVAGE: We can learn to ignore the bullshit about gay people in the Bible the same way 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. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waived Bibles over their heads during the civil war and justified it…We ignore what the Bible says about slavery because the Bible got slavery wrong. …If the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong, slavery. What are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100 percent.
“You can tell the Bible guys in the hall, they can come back now because I’m done beating up the Bible,” Savage said before moving on to his next topic, “It’s funny as someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-ass some people react when you push back.” Watch it:
Savage has since apologized for describing his detractors as “pansy-ass.” “I wasn’t calling the handful of students who left pansies (2800+ students, most of them Christian, stayed and listened), just the walk-out itself,” he said. “But that’s a distinction without a difference—kinda like when religious conservatives tell their gay friends that they ‘love the sinner, hate the sin.’… Likewise, my use of ‘pansy-assed’ was insulting, it was name-calling, and it was wrong. And I apologize for saying it.”
Ironically, this story about Savage’s comments broke on the same day that Joel Osteen — the leader of the nation’s largest Christian Church — told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that he believes homosexuality is a “sin” because “my faith is based on what I believe the scripture says and that’s the way I read the scripture.”
In our conversation about Two and a Half Men creator Lee Aronsohn’s recent complaint that, in terms of bodily female humor on television, “we’re approaching peak vagina on television,” one line of defense was that he was simply expressing a perfectly legitimate preference. His comments weren’t as horrifying as those of the racist fans of The Hunger Games who, in response to a character who is described as dark-skinned in the books being played by an African-American actress, tweeted things like “Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn’t as sad #ihatemyself.” But both strains of thinking get at something important: preferences in art aren’t neutral things unaffected by larger cultural forces that shield the people who hold them from any charges of racism, sexism, or homophobia.
Dan Savage wrote as much recently in response to a reader who wanted to know if his preference for masculine white men made him a jerk or biased: “You’re entitled to your preferences — but I hope your preferences are yours. I hope you’ve given your taste in men some thought and you can honestly say that these are your preferences, Masculine Man, and not just gay beauty ideals and/or masculinity standards that the culture stuffed down your throat and up your ass. And if they’re your preferences, well, you’re entitled to them. But you’re not entitled to be an asshole about them.”
It’s one thing to prefer stories about male characters, because that’s who you relate to most easily. It’s another to mistake that preference for some sort of proof that stories about men are inherently superior or more sophisticated. If you’d rather not watch gay people have relationships and build families, no one’s forcing you, but it’s worth interrogating why you feel that way. If you’re uncomfortable watching characters carry out their lives in a cramped, less-than-perfectly-maintained house but fine watching characters waltz through unrealistically enormous apartments, you might want to get to the root of that impulse. And if you bond more closely with a white child than with a black one, you should think about what that means on a deeper level than an #ihatemyself hashtag. There’s nothing wrong with treating entertainment as if it’s a source of fun rather than vitamins. But if being comfortable in your enjoyment means being comfortable in a narrow set of ideas, that’s not a neutral position, much less an admirable one.
Santorum: ‘I’m Praying’ For Dan Savage |
Rick Santorum took another shot at Dan Savage, the man responsible for the Pennsylvania senator’s now infamous “Google problem,” during an interview with RealClearPolitics. “I would tell him that I’m praying for him,” he said. “He obviously has some serious issues. You look at someone like that who can say and do the things that he’s doing and you just pray for him and hopefully he can find peace.” The comments are an improvement from Santorum’s previous remarks about Savage, who he has described as “below the dignity of anybody.”