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Dan Savage

Dan Savage


Seattle writer Dan Savage has penned the best book to date on why gays should be able to marry. The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family (Dutton, $23.95) is, on the surface, the story of Savage and his partner, Terry, deciding whether to tie the knot. But the book also shreds the far right's bigoted arguments against marriage equality. More important, it's a funny, touching story of navigating family dynamics, with Dan, Terry, and young son D.J. each weighing in on the matter. In a perfect world, their story alone would open and change closed minds.

Why does the idea of marriage equality freak out Christian conservatives in this country? They hate us. They really hate us. They are honestly fearful that if the world isn't a hostile place for gays and lesbians, their children who are gay will come out. This is all about Alan Keyes, for example, preferring Maya Keyes being closeted and miserable and "right with God" than Maya getting it into her head that she can live a full, ethical, open, and out life as a lesbian.

You take on Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in this book. Any thoughts on his main spokesman's coming out as gay? I don't think that Rick Santorum really believes the things that he says about gay people; otherwise, he couldn't have an openly gay staffer. If gay people are such a threat to his marriage, how is it that he can work so closely with a faggot all day long and go home to his wife and not have his relationship crumble? Either he doesn't believe it, or he's a stinking hypocrite.

I think a lot of [politicians are antigay] because it excites the grannies into writing the checks and voting their way. It's a cheap way for Americans to be morally right. It costs most Americans nothing to be antigay personally. It would cost a lot of Americans to be antipornography or anti-adultery or anti-premarital sex.

What can gay men and lesbians do to convince middle-of-the-road American voters to support equal marriage rights? I'm 40. I came out in 1979-80, right before the stories got written about this new, scary "gay cancer." We all thought we were going to die; we all thought we were going to be rounded up and put into camps. We all thought it was the end of this moment in history when gay people could live openly. And it wasn't, and this moment is equally as dark, but it will not be the end.

What we did back then is that we fought back. We will win the argument around this; we just have to make the argument. We have to engage. We have to fight and scream and yell and organize and give money to groups we think are effective.

In the book, D.J. at first doesn't want you and Terry to get married and then changes his mind. How does he feel about your marriage now? You can see why it is in a child's best interest for parents to do this. It matters to him in a way that he can't articulate and doesn't really understand. [Terry and I are] a kind of base camp. As [D.J.] moves out into the world more, he's going to leave behind more but also rely on more for a foundation and a sense of safety. We have strengthened that foundation by making this promise. There's no other way to do it. Kids get marriage, kids get family. It matters to him that he has cousins and grandmas. He's really obsessed with how he's connected to other people and how Terry and I are connected to each other.

Final question: Are you going to send copies of your book to the Robertsons and Falwells of the world? Those folks read me pretty closely. Every once in a while I'll write something and it'll pop up on their Web sites and they scream and yell. I think that Concerned Women for America will be scouring over a copy of the book, and I'd rather they buy it.

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