A Catholic Family Conversation: Andrew Sullivan and Maggie Gallagher

8 Dec

Tonight a discussion on LGBT issues is being held at Georgetown University.  Called “A Catholic Family Discussion” two panelists will answer questions from college students about LGBT issues and catholicism.

Maggie Gallagher, of the National Organization for Marriage, and Andrew Sullivan, Atlantic senior editor, political commentator, author, and blogger, are set to square off in a debate moderated by E.J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist, Brookings Institute senior fellow, political commentator, author.

We will be live blogging the entire event, complete with exclusive pictures. Stay tuned.

8:36 Panelists in place.  Here we go.

8:42 E.J. Dionne introducing the evening.  Makes the point that he believes this is a very difficult question.  This evening will be all about Marriage. He jokes that this evening will be “‘fair and balanced’ in the actual sense of the word’ and gets a good laugh out of the audience.

8:43 Dionne: The catholic church’s best role in modernity is in fostering discussion.

8:45 Dionne: quoting Glen Tinder “A society in which people listen seriously to those with whom they disagree is a healthy society…”

8:46 Maggie is up first…

8:47 Maggie leads by asking people to raise their hands if they support marriage equality.  A LOT of hands go up.  A large majority.

8:48 Maggie: Gay unions are not marriage. Aaaaaaaaaand she asserts she almost never speaks “as a catholic”.  Hmmmm.

8:49 Polygamy was apparently an accepted form of “marriage”, historically.

8:50 Maggie making the classic arguments we have heard from her: Marriage is fundamentally about children.

8:53 Every court decision granting Gay Unions makes marriage not about children.  And she states that it is what marriage is for.

8:53 Predictably, she plays the race card. If we make the connection b/w SSM and Interracial Marriage, as in the equality argument, it has a negative affect.

8:58 She tells pro-equality catholics that they don’t have as much courage to say so as it does anti-equality catholics.  Apparently it was courageous when Andrew did it, but not us. Now Maggie is the courageous hero.

9:00 What is driving the Equality movement is this: I really want to have sex, and I have to find justifications for it.  According to Maggie Gallagher.

9:01 She just said that “gay marriage is my fault”

9:02 A word on Catholics for Equality: Its not too late to turn back and repent. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

9:03 “Truth and love will prevail.” Maggie Gallagher.  She’s right, but soooooooo wrong. Not how she thinks.

9:04 Andrew Sullivan now up.

9:05 “Everything she says about Heterosexual Marriage I agree with.” Recognizes the sacred nature of Marriage.

9:06 “The world is bigger, and wider, and more complicated than we used to believe.”

9:08 Andrew just made a molestation joke.  Slightly awkward laughter from the audience.  Maggie is not pleased.

9:12 —this is much more of a conversation than a debate. Both are speaking honestly and frankly.—

9:13 Andrew is telling about his very Catholic upbringing. And how it affected him, stunted him, and oppressed him.

9:14 It’s deppressing to hear human beings being reduced to sexual acts. And then stigmatize them because of it. Andrew indirectly responding to Maggie’s argument that marriage equality is all about sex.

(as an aside, this is quite difficult to do.  I am missing quite a lot of the nuance here.)

9:20 Andrew closes with “I praise God for being Gay.”

Students are now responding.

9:21 College Democrat Hanna Lomax-Vogt, Georgetown College Democrats, responds to Maggie: A lot of [your] argument is that relationships, marriage, is about sex. I think its more than that.

9:24 College Republican, Joe Knowles: “I don’t believe we are desexualizing homosexuals”

9:25 Joe, in discussing Georgetown’s Gender Liberation Week, makes joke “How weird is that?” Maggie laughs hysterically.  No one else does.

9:26 Each are responding to Young Dem’s question about teen suffering and suicide. Maggie wants to help make the person build a better life.  And then confront the bullies.  Wants to reach out in love to people who are suffering.

Andrew says he is glad Maggie would confront the bullies. Says one way to make a gay kid feel awful is to call him “intrinsically disordered.” Lots of applause.

(this is getting into the debate now. A bit more confrontational)

His answer: “Be not afraid. God loves you.” “There is a future for you.” and that “it will get better.”

“The only way it can get better is the promise of love, and family”

9:31 “You keep sexualizing a homosexual relationship in a way you wouldn’t sexualize a heterosexual relationship” Andrew to Maggie.

(This got argumentative, but now the moderator is breaking the tension.)

9:37 Maggie is responding to EJ Dionne’s question about the conservative argument for equality. She calls it “the great infertility argument.”

“Marriage is not a factory for babies.” but the best way to raise them is to enter a sacred union.

She is hammering the “its about the children argument.”

9:42 Both are covering all issues of Marriage. Divorce, children, love… this is truly an in depth discussion of the issue.

9:43 Andrew: Is it better, for society, for [lesbians and gays] to have no incentive to channel sex and love into stable relationships?

9:46 Maggie: I wouldn’t say there are no options for channeling promiscuity.

9:47 (Now they are talking over each other a bit, getting a bit argumentative, and its turning more confrontational)

Andrew makes the point that its not possible for Gay’s to have sex without sinning.  In other words an avenue for sex without sin does not exist.

9:52 Student questioner brings up NOM’s associations, and whether she is being honest when she says she would confront bullies. Quotes NOM associate from summer tour.

9:57 These are human beings, Maggie. And I know you don’t mean to harm people, but you do.

10:00 Andrew Sullivan is making a very honest and human case for equality.  Using personal narrative, talking about family, and touching on common values.  He’s really connecting with the audience.

10:04 Andrew brings up the church sex scandal, and the college republican thinks it has nothing to do with the issue.  He says he resents Andrew bringing it up.

10:07 This is rapidly deteriorating.  The audience is restless and starting to call out.  We’re also 8 minutes over time for this discussion, and not really getting to the core of this issue.  The format is really not allowing any of the panelists to answer questions.

10:13  Not sure how this is going to wrap up.  We’re spiraling out of control at the moment.

10:15 Andrew finally answering a coherent question: Why didn’t Jesus mention gay people? His answer: historically it wasn’t an important issue.  And Jesus didn’t place emphasis on “family values.” Not such a good reaction from the crowd. On both sides the crowd reacting in ways that indicate they can’t see past the nuance of Andrew and Maggie’s arguments.

10:19 A touching moment from Andrew where he discusses his Marriage, and tells us that his life is fundamentally better with his his husband in it. And that those who are anti-gay need to acknowledge that they truly want gay people to be less happy. Big applause.

10:22 Maggie responding to Andrew’s answer and discussing biblical references.

She claims that she is open to doing things a bit different, that we can find new ways of relating to each other.

10:24 The only thing that offends Maggie, and apparently she is hard to offend, is the way Andrew talks about the Holy Father (the Pope).

When gay marriage happens, says Maggie, dissent is redefined as discrimination.  And that we equality proponents need to address that difficulty. (she’s probably right about that, and I fully own it)

10:27 And we’re done.  Not a great close.  A tremendous amount of unanswered questions on both sides. In the end, though, there were some great moments of eloquence on both sides.

Reactions to come, with pictures, after the cold commute home.

10 Responses to “A Catholic Family Conversation: Andrew Sullivan and Maggie Gallagher”

  1. Zack Ford December 8, 2010 at 10:45 pm #

    Dissent IS discrimination, or at least pro-discrimination.

    Even though this debate had no relevance for me, thanks for live-blogging it.

  2. Mitch Wood December 8, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    Sean, on behalf of those of us who couldn’t attend in persothanks for the superb play-by-play–you did a great job! I will look forward to reading your further reporting and commentary on the event.

  3. BEG December 9, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    Was this taped or recorded?

  4. Sue McGonnigal December 9, 2010 at 6:33 am #

    Well done Sean!! What a terrific job of reporting you did. I’ll bet you had to stop yourself from coming out of your seat and pasting her in the mouth! Grrr…the absolute stupidity of her arguments made me gag! Nice Sean, very nice.

  5. Carpool Cookie December 10, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    Thanks for summarizing this 🙂 I was going to watch it online…then they delayed it, and I don’t know if it’s going to be broadcast.

    Mags is heinous, needless to say.


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