It wasn't the Thriller in Manila, the third bout between heavyweight boxers Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, but sparks flew when Dan Savage and Brian Brown sat across from each other.
Brown leads the National Organization of Marriage, a non-profit committed to making sure gay couples in the US have no marriage rights. Savage, the author of six books, is the founder of the It Gets Better Project (an anti-bullying campaign). This past spring Brown issued a debate challenge after Savage spoke at the National High School Journalist conference. The anti-gay marriage advocate, and his allies, were convinced the columnist was disrespectful to the Bible and Christians. Savage agreed, but added he wanted Brown to come to his home so he could meet a gay family.
A video of the sit down, moderated by New York Times reporter Mark Oppenhiemer, was made available last week. After a dinner that was prepared by Savage's neighbor, a straight stay at home father, the Dinner Table Debate started.
Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer for the magazine The Atlantic, pointed to three interesting moments in the free-ranging conversation. Savage wondered why Christians easily dismiss a wide range of Biblical pronouncements, specifically the pro-slavery ones, but refuse to do the same with biblical strictures against homosexuality.
'The Bible, if it got something as easy and obvious as slavery wrong, what are the odds that it got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong,' Savage asks. 'I put those odds at about 100 percent.'
Brown is anxious the acceptance of marriage equality will disenfranchise faith communities.
'If your new idea of marriage is encoded into the law, it will be used to repress, marginalize and punish those of us who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. That is what will happen,' Brown said.
Finally, the man who wants a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in each state, admits no amount of evidence can shake his opposition.