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Dan Savage And Steven Colbert Talk Marriage, Monogamy And Infidelity

by David Badash on July 13, 2011

in Marriage,News

Post image for Dan Savage And Steven Colbert Talk Marriage, Monogamy And Infidelity

Dan Savage talked with Steven Colbert Tuesday about marriage, monogamy and infidelity. Colbert says of marriages that accept infidelity, “That’s not marriage, that’s a joint checking account.”

READ: Chuck Colson: “Gay marriage will inevitably undermine all marriages”

Savage, who created the It Gets Better Project, was quoted in The New York Times, and widely misquoted or misconstrued across right wing media.

Colbert equates marriage to exercise…

Savage is not helping the LGBT community by riding this meme, that monogamy isn’t important. Savage is not the spokesperson for the LGBT community — he certainly does not represent me or my relationship — and those using him as the icon for same-sex marriage had better come up with something else.


The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Dan Savage
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fearcake July 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Savage isn't saying monogamy isn't important. He says it should be up to the couple. He also asks should infidelity destroy a relationship or should that couple try to work beyond it? I think what he's advocating is honesty in marriage and the desire to keep people married with realistic expectations. Did you watch the whole interview or are you more concerned with how straight people will see the LGBT marriage equality movement? Everything he said was true. There is massive amounts of data on infidelity in heterosexual couples yet they act as if monogamy is what marriage is all about. A marriage is more than just sex. Savage simply points this out and states that there are couples that have wonderful marriages without monogamy. in other words…monogamy is not the be all and end all of every marriage.

David Badash July 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I did watch the entire interview, and read the entire NY Times piece from June 30, and have read probably every right-wing misquote of it. That's the problem, too. Here's what I wrote in the comments of the article I wrote previous to this one, same issue:

While I absolutely fully support Dan Savage's right to speak his mind, what is sadly lost on him is the fact that he is perceived to speak for the LGBT community. He does not. Dan could be more responsible in his statements. Also, his timing sucks. At a point where we are gaining momentum in the fight for marriage and equality, no doubt Dan's irresponsible comments have turned a few minds against us, feeding into the stereotypes we have fought hard to put behind us.

fearcake July 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I think he does perceive that people believe he speaks for the LGBT community. It simply doesn't cow him. Just because the right wing wants to misquote and malign what he is saying should a person stop talking? No. If it wasn't Dan Savage it would be someone else making marriage equality look bad. Just like Newt Gingrich and Boehner make Republicans look bad. Spinning the message sometimes becomes so much of a focus for the community they forget we all are people who have separate opinions. His comments are far from irresponsible. They are his opinion.

njrugger45 July 13, 2011 at 8:37 pm

To me, this is problematic in the same way that some people argue against drag queens, leather community, and other non-normative folks in Pride parades – that to win politically, every visible LGBT person has to fit a normative identity, or let those who do speak for them. I personally do not intend to have a non-monogamous relationship, but I think it is valuable for people to discuss it as one option. Anybody ignorant enough to think that Dan Savage speaks for all gay people and gay relationships isn't someone we can win over anyway.

David Badash July 13, 2011 at 8:59 pm

"Anybody ignorant enough to think that Dan Savage speaks for all gay people and gay relationships isn't someone we can win over anyway. "

I suppose you are correct! It's a good point, but if you look at today's other piece on Savage, a la Chuck Colson, he tells people to talk to their friends about the NY Times article to prove that gays can't handle fidelity and will harm marriage irreparably…

That's my concern, that we lose around the kitchen table.

njrugger45 July 13, 2011 at 9:15 pm

I struggle, because I desire to participate both in shifting the culture and changing laws. Although my goals of marriage happen to fit into a 20th century, American heteronormative model of monogamy and having children, I believe that people of all sexualities are in the process of renegotiating relationships, including whether monogamy is right for them. Queer people on one hand have the least to lose by talking publicly about non-traditional relationships because many already don't respect/acknowledge their legitimacy, while on the other hand we have the most to gain if we can convince enough people to grant our relationships legal legitimacy.

Cultural and legislative changes always happen together, and the push for cultural change is always more radical than legislative change. It is simply the nature of public discourse in our political system. Ultimately, I hold too dear the importance of any individual's authentic self expression to ask them to censor their beliefs for the sake of "the movement" even if they don't represent me.

atalanta20 July 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Anyone interested can easily find out what Dan Savage thinks about monogamy. His views are there in his advice column, his books and in many other places, available for anyone who wants to find out about them.

I don't want Dan to change his mind or to distance himself from his opinions. I don't even want Dan to 'stop talking'.

My question is why Dan chose this moment to make his view of marriage a media talking point. He has more fame and prominence than ever before in his career, and one of the ways he has chosen to use that is to promote marriage which is not sexually exclusive – and so one of marriage equality's most effective proponents has gifted the right with a story they can inaccurately spin as evidence of a gay plot against marriage.

Dan's stubbornness is one of his best and worst qualities. In this instance it amounts to bone-headedness of the highest order. Please, argue for non-exclusivity in your own time, Dan – right now, for better or worse, you are perceived to be speaking for all of us. We have a historic opportunity to change the lives of LGB people for the better, and we really need you to focus completely on helping us with that.

bgryphon July 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Yes it is more complicated to have discussions about marriage equality at the same time as a discussion about what marriage is or should be; whether marriage requires monogamy and whatever else partners need to agree on. It is possible that progress would be faster if marriage equality is achieved first; but it might be faster to have both discussions at the same time; "multi-tasking" if you will. Each approach has some merit.

Not sure if by saying Dan should "argue for non-exclusivity in your own time" you really are saying you think Dan should STFU until after marriage equality is available- but if you are, is that just when it is available to all US residents, or a majority of us, or do you expect him to self-censor until it is available to the entire world?

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