It’s about an hour long, but — if you’re interested in the SSM — it’s an entertaining hour. Both Brian and Dan are extremely confident, fluid speakers.
I do think that Dan’s arguments were weaker than they had to be, more than once. In particular, I think Dan failed to chase down the point about slavery and the Bible as well as he could have.
Brian countered Dan’s point by pointing out that slavery as described in the Bible had to be understood in historical context, and that the slavery discussed by Paul was more like “indentured servitude” than like the considerably harsher slavery practiced in the pre-emancipation USA. That’s fair enough, but Dan should have raised the question – if the Bible’s discussion of slavery needs to be understood in historical context, then shouldn’t we also say that the Bible’s discussion of homosexuality needs to be viewed in historical context?
The form of homosexuality practiced by Dan – in which two gay men fall in love and form a lifetime union, becoming a family and raising a child together – would have been at LEAST as unknown in Jesus’ day as the American form of slavery. If we can’t assume that the Bible was giving it’s approval to US-style slavery (because historic context), then how can we assume that the Bible is condemning the current practice of homosexuality?
Another time I felt Dan dropped the ball a little was when he described what he thought marriage was about (around 35 minutes into the video), in which he seemed to deny that marriage is at all about babies and children. I don’t think that’s correct; marriage has multiple benefits for society, and among those benefits is the benefits to children. Marriage equality opponents are wrong when they say or imply that marriage is only and exclusively about children; but it’s also a mistake to say or imply that marriage isn’t at all about children. There’s no need to pick just one thing and say “this and this alone is what marriage is about”; it’s not logically required for a social institution to serve only one purpose, and it’s a fairly trivial observation that marriage does, in fact, serve multiple functions in our society.
On the whole, I think Savage had the better arguments (although of course, I would think that). Brian fell into the problem that marriage equality opponents fall into; he was unable to persuasively articulate how same-sex marriage harms anyone. The harm that he returned to multiple times, with great passion, is that same-sex marriage is harmful because it leads to people like Brian Brown being seen as bigots.
Yet as painful as it may be for Brian Brown to be called a bigot, that pain pales to insignificance compared to how people unable to have their marriages legally recognized suffer. Consider the case of someone permanently separated from her spouse because they were born in different countries, neither of which recognizes same-sex marriage. Could anyone seriously suggest that the suffering Brian Brown goes through when someone calls him a bigot is even one-thousandth as bad?
Brian also brought up the alleged harms of discrimination laws, but if those harms come up regardless of if SSM is legal (Brian used an example from New Jersey, where SSM isn’t legal), then it’s hard to blame those harms on SSM.
Brian also entirely failed to respond to many of Dan’s arguments. For instance, Dan made a very eloquent argument – one I’ve never heard before – for why FRC’s arguments falsely connecting pedophilia and homosexuality actively harm gay teens. Brian didn’t respond to this argument at all, and it’s hard not to suspect that’s because he didn’t have preset talking points that addressed that argument.
Similarly, less than a minute after Dan spent a lot of time explaining why he opposes polygamy, Brian said that SSM advocates did not have any arguments against polygamy. He didn’t refute Dan’s argument; he just pretended that Dan hadn’t made it. This added to the impression that Brian was simply not listening to Dan at all, not even to refute him.
Most deadly, when asked by the moderator, Brian (starting at 55:50) admitted that his views aren’t subject to changing based on evidence – that is, Brian can’t imagine any evidence that would cause him to change his views. He seemed to admit that his views aren’t based in facts, or in social science, or anything but his “fundamental” definition of marriage.
(In contrast, Dan was able to describe evidence that would change his views.)
Anyhow, those are my initial reactions. What are your thoughts?