MSNBC's David Shuster and Brian Brown -- the executive director of the gay-marriage-panicking National Organization For Marriage -- hashed it out on the teevee this afternoon, and unfortunately for Brown, Shuster pointed out that NOM has basically been in the business of bowdlerizing other people's statements:
SHUSTER: Brian, your ad refers to legal scholars saying that same sex marriage will lead to damaging widespread legal conflicts for small businesses and religious organizations. That's only half the sentence of their conclusion, isn't it?
BROWN: Well, that's...that's the focus. Doug Laycock, Robin Fretwell-Wilson, people on both sides of the debate agree--
SHUSTER: Well, let's talk about Doug Laycock, becuase he supports same-sex marriage. And the fact is that in their conclusion, they say that without religious accommodation, it will create legal conflicts. You didn't put that "religious accommodation" in your ad or in your press release. You simply took the last half of your sentence simply to say, "OH! This is going to lead to all sorts of problems." It's like saying your car is going to break down unless you fill it with gas and you leave out "unless you fill it with gas."
BROWN: We don't need to guess at what the consequences are. You've seen Catholic Charities adoption agency in Massachusetts being put out of business because they couldn't, according to its religious beliefs, place children with same-sex couples. We've seen a New Jersey Methodist Association lose part of its state tax exemption because it wouldn't allow a property it owned to be used for same-sex civil union ceremonies.
SHUSTER: That's because that's discrimination and the fact is there are laws against discrimination.
BROWN: It goes on and on and on. And that fact it that if you look at the letters, all people need to do is go to nationformarriage.org if there's any debate about the consequences, they can read the letters themselves. They're on our website
SHUSTER: But in those letters, Brian, it says there should be religious accommodation. That's what the legal scholars say. They don't say that gay marriage will simply lead to these consequences. It says it might lead to those consequences if there aren't accomodations. The fact is, they support gay marriage and saying simply put accommodations so if a religious organization wants to have only heterosexual marriages in a church, that they don't get sued. There's nothing wrong with that.
Here the conversation shifted, because when you can't argue the law, bleat out some grievance about some other advocacy group, why not?
BROWN: This is simply untrue. Joe Solomonese from the Human Rights Campaign has repeatedly said when religious organizations enter the public square, if they're not -- if they're not willing to do what Joe Solomonese wants them to do, then they should be punished.
Of course, Joe Solomonese simply wants religious organizations to follow the laws of the land when they intrude into the "public square," not that HRC is looking for religious organizations to be subject to some elaborate game of Simon Says. Shuster understands this:
SHUSTER: That's right. you're going to have a religion on the public square as opposed to in a church you cannot discriminate.
Honestly, this is the important part.
SHUSTER: Here's the larger issue. Explain how it is the lesbian or gay couple down the street has any impact on my marriage on on yours.
BROWN: The couple themselves don't. The fact that you're redefining marriage as a public good redefines it for everyone. What is taught in the schools changes. You're saying you're going to limit the religious liberty of a church or church organization because you're going to say they're the equivalent of bigots.
Wait. "The couple themselves don't?" Okay, then. Next?