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.

On May 1, three days after the video of Savage’s rude and crude talk to teens was posted, Leftist gay blogger Jeremy Hooper of Good As You served up a video of Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, telling his flock to beat their effeminate four-year-old gay sons into godly masculinity and to “rein in” their daughters if they start to act “butch.” Pastor Harris’s 55-minute sermon was part of the Marriage Sunday campaign on April 29 put together by Vote for Marriage NC.

Hooper provides the following transcript of Pastor Harris’ sermon:

So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, “Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,” you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.

Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.

And when your daughter starts acting too butch you rein her in. And you say, “Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.”

You say, “Can I take charge like that as a parent?” Yeah, you can. You are authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that.

Prominent conservative bloggers, radio talk show hosts, and TV commentators chewed the scenery for days over Dan Savage’s “bullying” and “hypocrisy.” However, we don’t know where they stand on Pastor Harris’s admonition to beat up four-year-old boys, force them to dig ditches and to humiliate them on YouTube in order to make them masculine because: crickets.

So here’s the thing. Dan Savage was rude to some teenagers contemplating entering a profession where the easily offended usually wash out before they’ve begun. He was every kind of wrong.

However, unlike the gay and lesbian children in Pastor Harris’s congregation -- and believe me, they were there -- at no time did those insulted Christian teenagers have a reason to fear that Dan had the power to destroy their lives or that he believed it was his God-given duty to do so. At no time did they have a reason to believe Dan had the power to declare them intrinsically evil or deserving of physical abuse, humiliation, and rejection by their own families, their religion, by their government, or by everyone in the world for choosing to be anti-gay Christians.

Pastor Harris now says he meant his remarks as hyperbole. But to the gay and lesbian children out of their minds with fear sitting in Pastor Harris’s congregation and those of his ilk, it is Dan Savage who has thrown them over 10,000 lifelines in the form of YouTube videos of adults telling them to hang on through their teen years because “it gets better.” Certainly, when he sticks to this message, it is Dan who is preaching a sermon of salvation, personal transformation for the better, and affirmation of life.