A Contrarian View of Dan Savage’s Rant

Thanks to a video excerpt of his keynote speech to a national conference of high school journalism students on April 13, Dan Savage has done more to harm the cause of gay equality than anyone on the Right ever has or likely ever will.

The video was posted on April 27, just in time for North Carolina’s primary ballot on May 8, which will include a referendum on an amendment to the state’s constitution to ban gay marriage. It features Dan rudely trying to persuade the teens that because modern society rejects harsh Bible verses such as those supporting slavery and the stoning of women who are not virgins on their wedding night, they should ignore its teachings on homosexuality because they are similarly “wrong” and “bulls***.”

Dan is a syndicated sex advice columnist and creator of the It Gets Better Project, which is devoted to ending bullying of LGBT children and teenagers and preventing them from committing suicide. He lives in Seattle with his husband Terry Miller, who is the stay-at-home parent for their adopted teenage son.

The video of Dan’s speech went viral. Conservatives were quick to denounce him as a bully of Christian teens. However, commenters at the Leftist gay blog Joe.My.God. noted that the walkout looked staged, because it began as soon as Dan mentioned the Bible but before he called the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality “bullshit” and “wrong.” They also pointed out that several of the students leaving in protest appear gleeful.

Clearly, all the Right has to do to weaponize Leftist gays against their own equality is to give them an audience, press the “record” button, and let them talk. They might as well be marionettes with how easy is it for the Right to pull their strings and to encourage their self-destruction. But, the result: instead of a dialog on liberty, equality, inalienable rights, and how to strengthen marriage and to make society more stable and prosperous, we are presented on both sides with false choices in a cycle of escalating reciprocal demonization.

It doesn’t have to be this way, but it is, because Leftist gays refuse to listen to conservative gays -- or conservative anyone -- respectfully enough to learn the arguments that would persuade conservatives that LGBTs do have inalienable rights to equality that merit the protection of federal law, which no state constitution can lawfully ban because they are inalienable.

These inalienable rights include the liberty to be free from being forced by the government to follow the religious beliefs of other people, as conservative Republican attorney Ted Olson explained in his 2010 op-ed, “The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage”:

While our Constitution guarantees the freedom to exercise our individual religious convictions, it equally prohibits us from forcing our beliefs on others. I do not believe that our society can ever live up to the promise of equality, and the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, until we stop invidious discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

This suggests that, in the future, the conservative case for gay equality may be advanced as a matter of freedom of religion and therefore guaranteed as a First Amendment right.

After all, the Metropolitan Community Church celebrates same-sex marriages. Its founding in 1968 marked the beginning of the modern gay equality movement and gave it a spiritual foundation. In addition, both Reform and Conservative Judaism celebrate same-sex unions. Why shouldn’t their religious marriages confer the same thousands of federal and state civil rights accorded to the marriages performed under the auspices of religions that ban same-sex marriage? Doesn’t that mean the powers of government are being appropriated to make certain religions superior to others? Doesn’t that demonstrate that the government is being used to coerce people to adopt certain religions and to eschew others without regard for the promptings of their own consciences?

Leftist gays like Mr. Savage do not understand that they have absolutely no business arguing the case for gay equality by suggesting that religious teachings against it are wrong or hateful or must be changed in any way. Surely if gays have the inalienable right to love, others may hate as they please as long as their hatred does not damage the life, liberty, or property of anyone else.

So let anti-gay Christians, or the practitioners of any anti-gay faith, have their anti-gay dogma. The proper argument for gay equality is that they must keep their dogma on their own property and use it only to herd their own flock. That’s because our Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of religion and prohibition of the establishment of any state religion both confines religions to the realm of persuasion and denies them the powers of government over people who do not accept their faith because government is the realm of coercion.

However, while anti-gay dogma is protected, anti-gay actions are not.