Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) finally took Dan Savage up on his invitation for an after-dinner debate on same-sex marriage, LGBT rights and the Bible.
Moderated by The New York Times’ Matt Oppenheimer (who penned a profile of Savage last year), the dinner debate ran for about an hour, and also touched on recent controversies including the Family Research Council (FRC) shooting, the widespread criticism of Mark Regnerus' gay parenting study and, of course, Savage's own obscenity-laced speech at the National High School Journalist Conference in Seattle, during which a number of students walked out.
"The notion of the uniqueness of men and women is not some side thing in scripture, it's a key part of our view of humanity," Brown noted during the debate. "Even without children, the unitive nature of marriage brings together the two great halves of humanity...we will always have this view, there will be Christians who will always have this view."
He added, "What I see attempted here...is the notion that...those of us who know that marriage is the union of a man and a woman are deserving of treatment less than others because we are bigots and we deserve what we get. I don't think that's true."
Savage countered, "People have a right to conclude that same-sex marriage is wrong and then they're free not to enter into same-sex marriages. If you conclude that that same-sex marriages are wrong because of your faith, you don't have a right to impose that limitation onto people who happen to disagree with you."
"We don't want to change the institution of marriage, the fact of the matter is heterosexuals have changed the institution of marriage," Savage added. "It's not a gendered institution anymore, it's not about babies, it's about commitment and love. Marriage just isn't defined by sex roles or the presence of children. The only time we hear that marriage is defined by children, or monogamy, or faith is when gay people want to get married."
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