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08/22/2012

NOM's gauche debate prep

by Jeremy Hooper

Late yesterday afternoon, NOM teased the forthcoming video footage of president Brian Brown's dinner chat with Dan Savage, recently filmed at the latter's Seattle home. Teased it like this:

Screen Shot 2012-08-22 At 8.21.09 Am

I can't help but note how tacky this setup is. Clearly NOM is framing this as a big dog matchup. The photo display makes it look like a boxing meet: two warriors going toe-to-toe. Fight, fight, fight.

But consider what's really at stake. On the right (in image layout, not politics), we have a married father who engages on this issue so that his family can know protection and peace of mind. On the left, we have a married father whose job—whose paycheck-collecting career, quite literally—is 100% built around dismantling rights for the other guy. Those are the true stakes: a man who is hoping to put this issue to bed so that we can all move on to tackling actual social issues and another man who has declared "culture war" on families like Dan's.

This is not an equal-footed, two-sided, let's-agree-to-disagree-and-then-have-dessert kind of debate. The man on the left of the above collage is fighting. Denying. Discriminating. Demoralizing millions. Robbing rights. Exalting his personal Catholic viewpoints above sound civil policy. Telling society that certain citizens are lesser-than. Even linking people like me and people like Dan to attempted murderers.

Brian, ever-eager to be a political power player, might want this yet-to-be-seen dinner conversation to come across as a two-sided battle of minds hashed out on a level playing field on which he is an equally-meritorious actor. But without seeing a shred of footage, I already know that the setup Brian seeks is completely untenable. Why do I know this? Because I too am a legally married man. I know that someone who comes into my home and asks me to pass the bread before then asking me to forfeit my legal bond is not a mere pundit. I know that my life is not an episode of "Hardball." I know that self-appointed moral authoritarians who profit from history's wrong side don't get a pass simply because they've secured conservative credence and connections.

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