It’s almost worth sitting through 18 minutes of some ignorant, bigoted anti-gay marriage bullshit from a bunch of pastors at the National Press Club, in order to fully appreciate the hilarity of Jamila Bey’s eventual question.

Here’s the full video from C-SPAN. If you don’t feel like watching it all, let me sum it up for you: “Bla bla bla traditional marriage defined by God in the Bible. Bla bla bla being bigoted against gay people is somehow essential to the black experience. Bla bla bla praise Jesus.”

At minute 18:00, the floor is open to questions. One guy asks if they’ll endorse Mitt Romney and they say no because they’re not political. A woman asks if they’re homophobic. The pastor, Reverend William Owens, says that if someone calls him homophobic then he can call them “sisses and all the other names I could call them.” Okay.

At minute 19:11, Jamila Bey asks her question:

“What is your position on polygamy?”

Owens pauses before saying “Well I think you know that this is not about polygamy, this is about same-sex marriage.”

“I need for you to define for me please the Biblical definition of marriage…”

Owens wags his finger and says “The Biblical definition of marriage is a marriage between a man and a woman and I’m not going to get on another track…”

“Talk to me about Abraham’s marriage.”

Long pause.

“Madame . . . next question. Next question.”

“What’s God’s position on polygamy?”

“NEXT QUESTION!”

“Reverend, what’s God’s position on slavery?”

“Are you going to stand there and just demand that I answer your question, this is not about polygamy…

“This is a press conference…”

“…this is about same-sex marriage and I will not do any different.”

“Reverend you said you’d answer questions about Biblical marriage…”

“Would you have this lady removed?”

Finally Jamila relents and the next guy asks about the good Reverend correlating homosexuality and pedophilia, which he doubles down on. Jamila gets another question in at the end, asking about the high rate of children born out of wedlock and the number of men abandoning their families, but sadly there’s no room in that environment to really connect that back to the fact that gay people aren’t the ones who are fucking up marriage.

Ah well. Good job, Jamila!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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39 Comments

  1. Profile photo of colinj
    August 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm —

    That was beautiful.

    Seriously, there’s nothing better than watching a God-bothering bigot get stopped dead in their tracks when faced with logic.

  2. Profile photo of Dave Oldridge
    August 1, 2012 at 5:36 pm —

    Robert Price has often commented on how the Fundies tend to use the bible as a ventriloquism dummy, making it say only whatever the Fundies themselves are arguing. It’s great to see somebody remind them how fallible their book really is. What would Jesus do? Probably STFU on issues of abortion and LGBT affairs, as was his history.

  3. Profile photo of mrmisconception
    August 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm —

    Got to say he’s rockin’ that mustache.

    Thought those went out of style around 1939.

  4. Profile photo of 1000 Needles
    August 1, 2012 at 6:51 pm —

    Thanks for kicking ass, Jamila! You can almost hear the gears of cognitive dissonance knocking and grinding as Owens’ brain works out a response.

  5. Profile photo of fantysq
    August 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm —

    I don’t understand why people say that she “pwn’d” him. He just dodged the question and that’s it. Maybe I’m too pessimistic, but I don’t think most people would even know what it was that her questions were referring to. The true believers would just probably think that she was engaging in some incomprehensible derail tactic.

    • Profile photo of baloney
      August 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm —

      In the sense that she shoved his hypocrisy in his face on C-SPAN, he was “pwn’d.”

    • Profile photo of marilove
      August 2, 2012 at 12:10 am —

      It was aired on C-Span; I think ~IF~ anyone saw it … they’d see it as a Pwnage. LOL

  6. Profile photo of davew
    August 1, 2012 at 9:57 pm —

    What I find most disturbing about this is the reverend’s insistence that civil rights are something that should be put up to a popular vote.

  7. Profile photo of mrmisconception
    August 1, 2012 at 10:26 pm —

    “Ah, now one big difference between the civil rights movement and the movement today to recognize same sex marriage…”

    The truly honest way for him to end that sentence would have been “is that I’m not gay therefore it does not benefit me.”

    There reverend, fixed that for you.

  8. Profile photo of Michael Powers
    August 2, 2012 at 12:38 am —

    I find it depressing that we spend time on things that are beyond debate. Like equal pay for equal work, these things should be self evident. The incredible amount of time and money wasted on useless superstition is in itself obscene.

  9. Profile photo of scribe999
    August 2, 2012 at 12:52 am —

    The fact that they get to call themselves “reverend” (i.e. “worthy of respect”) sickens me.

  10. Profile photo of rempetis
    August 2, 2012 at 2:41 am —

    I took the time to watch the whole thing.

    – People should learn from and do learn from the mistakes of the past. I don’t know if this is true but i have read that one of the reasons why the african-american civil rights movement came into existance and flurished was that people saw how the Japanese residents of the US were treated during World War2.

    So, it’s outrageous that he brings the African-American Civil Rights Movement and Marting Luther King into this. If anything he should be taught from that ALL people should have equal rights.

    – He handled dodging the questions that this article is in referance to very VERY well in the video.

    – At one point he says some things that make him seem to be against abortions, so being against gay marriage maybe isn’t such a surprise in his case.

    – In a fantasy world that only exists in my head i would have loved if homosexual people simply said: “Take marriage and sove it up your… we just want the same rights”. I hold on to my little fantasy but i support what the gay rights movement wants.

    – I consider these issues secondary and a smokescreen to hide the fact that both of your political parties sadly aren’t that different on primary issues. Primary issues in my opinion are other issues like US foreign policy, war on terror propaganda, 1% vs 99% (both parties serve the interests of the wealthy), immigrants who have no rights at all and are essentialy treated like modern slaves etc etc.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      August 2, 2012 at 4:33 am —

      In a fantasy world that only exists in my head i would have loved if homosexual people simply said: “Take marriage and sove it up your… we just want the same rights”. I hold on to my little fantasy but i support what the gay rights movement wants.

      Seperate but “equal” is never actually equal. History has shown us time and time again that such a thing is impossible.

      Also, such a thing *already exists* — it’s called Civil Marriage or Civil Unions or some variation. And it never gives the full rights and privileges that marriage does.

      Additionally, marriage is a *government contract* and we should not cave to the religious right. Their religion should have nothing to do with our laws.

      And while it must be super-nice for you that you can live ina world of theoretical, please remember that this topic is happening in the real world, and effects real people. Your hypothetical situation will *never* happen and is 100% irrelevant to the discussion. I’m tired of this stupid derailment.

      I consider these issues secondary and a smokescreen to hide the fact that both of your political parties sadly aren’t that different on primary issues.

      Civil rights are NEVER secondary issues. Equality is just as important as every other issue you listed. Not to mention, the issue of equality is very much connected to the other issues you listed.

      For example, you cannot expect LGBQT folks to have the same advantages and opportunities as you financially if they are not seen as equal under the law — which means they are more likely to be part of the very poor. And, of course, there are many LGBQT immigrants, which can often

      In fact, there are a lot of homeless LGBQT youths in my city (Phoenix) that are also undocumented immigrants. That part of our population should always par tof the discussion when talking about the huge rate of LGBQT homeless youth.

      STOP minimizing government-sanctioned bigotry. EQUALITY IS NOT A SECONDARY ISSUE.

      • Profile photo of marilove
        August 2, 2012 at 4:33 am —

        oh for fucks’ sake i really need to learn how to review my html before hitting submit

      • Profile photo of marilove
        August 2, 2012 at 4:35 am —

        “And, of course, there are many LGBQT immigrants, which can often”

        And also, that should have just simply said, “And, of course, there are many LGBQT immigrants.” :)

      • Profile photo of rempetis
        August 2, 2012 at 5:08 am —

        Seperate but “equal” is never actually equal. History has shown us time and time again that such a thing is impossible.

        Unless they get equal rights which is exactly what it makes them.

        Also, such a thing *already exists* — it’s called Civil Marriage or Civil Unions or some variation. And it never gives the full rights and privileges that marriage does.

        That’s why i said “Take marriage and sove it up your… we just want the same rights” and i didn’t say “Take marriage and sove it up your… we just don’t want the same rights”. :)

        And while it must be super-nice for you that you can live ina world of theoretical, please remember that this topic is happening in the real world, and effects real people. Your hypothetical situation will *never* happen and is 100% irrelevant to the discussion. I’m tired of this stupid derailment.

        It’s not irrelevant, but if you think that it is i respect your opinion just like you should obviously respect more mine by not being so openly hostile.

        Civil rights are NEVER secondary issues. Equality is just as important as every other issue you listed. Not to mention, the issue of equality is very much connected to the other issues you listed.

        It’s an existant issue that should be addressed but it’s secondary and it’s used as a smokescreen.

        To understand what i’m saying you should stop looking at the 3-4 trees that supposedly make up the differences between the republicans and the democrats and instead look at the forest! I’m sorry to say this but if it was a primary issue it would NOT be on the table, it’s as simple as that!

        • Profile photo of marilove
          August 2, 2012 at 5:44 am —

          Unless they get equal rights which is exactly what it makes them.

          OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE, did you read the rest of what they said. They don’t get the same rights. And history has proven that separate but equal NEVER grants the same rights. And legal segregation should never be accepted. Please open a history book!

          That’s why i said “Take marriage and sove it up your… we just want the same rights” and i didn’t say “Take marriage and sove it up your… we just don’t want the same rights”.

          Stop derailing. This is hypothetical bullshit and not based on reality. Oh and one more time: legal abnegation is fucked up. Again, did you read what I said fully?

          t’s not irrelevant, but if you think that it is i respect your opinion just like you should obviously respect more mine by not being so openly hostile.

          Don’t pull the tone troll bullshit.

          It is irrelevant. It is not an apt comparison because the theoretical world you keep talking about DOES NOT exist and likely never will exist — unless you can somehow give me evidence that it can. Can you?

          It’s an existant issue that should be addressed but it’s secondary and it’s used as a smokescreen.

          You didn’t address anything I said. You just keep repeating the same thing without actually telling me WHY you think this is true. I made a POINT to describe why equality is *not* a secondary issue, but so far you’ve not really given me anything to prove your point. Huh.

          To understand what i’m saying you should stop looking at the 3-4 trees that supposedly make up the differences between the republicans and the democrats and instead look at the forest! I’m sorry to say this but if it was a primary issue it would NOT be on the table, it’s as simple as that!

          This doesn’t even really make sense. There you go, saying stuff without anything to back it up. And what do you mean if it was a primary issue it would NOT be on the table? How is that “simple”?

          Also, are you suggesting that the other issues you listed (as “primary”) *AREN’T* on the table? Because that seems to be what you’re implying with your last sentence. This doesn’t seem accurate to me. Every time I turn on the news or read coverage about the election or politics, LGBQT rights may be mentioned, but so is the economy. A LOT! That and jobs are the talk of the fucking nation! Equality is an important discussion, too (just as important) but in my opinion, it is in no way overshadowing anything else.

          Unless you can provide me evidence of that. But so far … lots of conjecture and not much to back it up with. Huh.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          August 2, 2012 at 5:46 am —

          I seriously fail at blockquote tonight! So I am going to pull these out:

          Don’t pull the tone troll bullshit.

          It is irrelevant. It is not an apt comparison because the theoretical world you keep talking about DOES NOT exist and likely never will exist — unless you can somehow give me evidence that it can. Can you?

          Seriously, though, don’t *even* start tone trolling me tonight. I am NOT in the fucking mood.

          Again, it’s OH SO GREAT that this is theoretical for you. BUT IT IS NOT FOR ME.

          Stop trying to minimize the issue, just because YOU think it’s a secondary issue. UGH. Maybe you think that way because YOU HAVE ALL OF YOUR FUCKING CIVIL RIGHTS? Ever think of that? Hm?

          • Profile photo of rempetis
            August 2, 2012 at 6:41 am

            Offcourse it’s hypothetical, if it wasn’t i wouldn’t start it with “In a fantasy world that only exists in my head”. I obviously shouldn’t have even responded to your first message and please don’t guess that you know where i’m coming from. I understand that “you’re not in the right mood” (as you say) and that’s why this can’t be a civil discussion so i’ll leave it at that. This is my last answer to you on this.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            August 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm

            Are yo new here?

            Stop with the tone trolling. It will not fly here. We are having a perfectly civil discussion. If it’s too much for you, you are more than welcome to go elsewhere.

            And, yes, I do know perfectly where you are coming from: From the land of hypotheticals. From the land of make belief.

            You STILL have yet to actually respond to my points. Like, not a one of them! You just keep yapping about tone.

            You’re terrible at this.

          • Profile photo of madoc
            August 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm

            Hi Marilove,

            I really don’t understand the issue. What about Rempetis’ comment really makes you so mad? – Please, if possible, try to avoid vague implications like “history has proven…”. I am really interested in what I fail to notice about Rempetis’ words that might justify, or even command, being rude to him.

            In part, I am asking this question because I can relate to Rempetis’ idea. I have a similar “fantasy” myself. Mine is only a little more radical, in that I am opposed to the priviliged position of marriage altogether. I don’t think the state should have any interest in who we decide to spend our lives with, be out of love, pragmatism or whatever. And the state should not use the taxes to pay off people who live together in a certain way. (I know, there is at least one argument agains that point that I know of, but maybe that’s another part of the discussion.)

            So, I am really in favor of abolishing marriage altogether, at least as far as the state is concerned. People can still marry, as a ceremony, they can throw big parties to celebrate their love, but that’s it. No state involvement, other than protecting the rights to lead their lives as they please and speak their mind.

            What’s wrong about that? It’s hypothetical. True. But what’s wrong about *that*? The OLPC was hypothetical once, and in part still is. The right for women to vote was hypothetical once. Many good and bad things are, and most will always remain, hypothetical. What’s the problem?

            Madoc.

          • Profile photo of Will
            August 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm

            I’ll tell you exactly what’s wrong with it.

            There are certain rights–aside from tax benefits–that are afforded to people who are married. There are federal rights, such as access to Social Security, that are bestowed upon people once they are in a marriage that is federally recognized.

            Are you going to tell me that those things are unimportant? How else do you propose that we go about getting those rights if not through the state? Are you going to argue next that the entire social safety net should be abolished as well?

            What about inheritance then? Why should people have to go through the effort of getting special legal contracts drawn up for all sorts of different things (inheritance, federal benefits, taxes, etc.) when marriage does it so easily?

            Marriage is present is a cultural universal. It’s not going anywhere. It’s a particularly efficient and useful institution that enables social and kinship bonds. It seves vital functions in society.

            So, you’re of course free to live in your hypothetical world, but those of us here in the real world would like to be treated as equals and have the option to access that institution in the same way that straight people can. It’s not a “secondary” issue to us–this is my real life. I am literally prohibited from marrying my partner and obtaining the equal rights as my best friend and her husband. And your response is “well, we should just abolish marriage!” That doesn’t help at all.

            I can’t speak for marilove, nor would I ever try to, but that’s what’s so obnoxious and irritating about the other person’s post and your post. Living in your own fantasyland does nothing for us as queer people who are actively oppressed by our government.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            August 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm

            Separate but “equal” is not equal. It is an offensive, bigoted idea.

            History has shown us time and time again that segregation does not work and only works to further oppress. We have tried this with women; we have tried this with different races. IT HAS NEVER WORKED.

            Additionally, yes, the right for women to vote was once “hypothetical” but not in the way this is. You’re comparing tires and apples here. It’s a terrible connection and it doesn’t make any sense.

            Want a connection that DOES work? Look at our history with civil rights in general — when, exactly, did segregation ever bring about equality? Give me one fucking example, and then we’ll talk.

            The idea is OFFENSIVE. It’s wrong. And it’s not helpful.

            When you’re talking about REAL situations and REAL people, theoreticals can sometimes make for good discussions — but they still must be based inside our reality. Our reality is that segregation is awful and AT ITS CORE very bigoted. To use segregation as a way to get to equality is just fucking stupid, quite frankly.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            August 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm

            Oh, and what Will said. Go ahead and speak for me, Will — you almost always fucking nail it. That’s exactly where I was getting at.

            Fuck your fantasy world. I don’t give a shit about your fantasy world.

    • Profile photo of Will
      August 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm —

      So, it’s outrageous that he brings the African-American Civil Rights Movement and Marting Luther King into this. If anything he should be taught from that ALL people should have equal rights.

      As much as I <3 MLK, let's not romanticize him in this way, please. He did not believe that "ALL people should have equal rights"--read up on Bayard Rustin. You might be surprised to learn just how bigoted towards queer people MLK and other Civil Rights leaders were.

      • Profile photo of marilove
        August 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm —

        Wasn’t his right-hand man gay? I am almost positive about this.

        It’s just not a black & white issue.

        Also, even MLK was only a man, and he was still, in some respects, a product of his time.

        I know that some of his family and supporters have come to our side, but I know at least one of his daughters (I think) is firmly anti-gay and against using his words for our cause.

        • Profile photo of Will
          August 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm —

          Yeah, that was Bayard Rustin. =) He was basically the architect of the Civil Rights movement behind the scenes, but they would never let him be in the public eye because of his homosessualities. Oh, and they turned their backs on him when he refused to deny it and hide it.

          He was a really fascinating man, actually. There’s a great book called “Lost Prophet” by John D’Emilio, and there’s a documentary about him as well.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            August 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm

            Okay, yeah, I was right, woo! I missed the link the first time around. :)

  11. Profile photo of lamuella
    August 2, 2012 at 3:42 am —

    Every day, I am thankful that I am in a non-traditional marriage.

    I asked my wife to marry me, I did not consult her father.
    She said yes, and if she had said no there would have been no marriage.
    I consider my wife to be my partner in the world, not my property.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that traditional marriage can bugger off.

  12. Profile photo of Wilson
    August 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm —

    I loved around 4:10 when he was talking about Chic-Fil-A and about how it’s “It’s the same thing that happened when I was marching for civil rights, when they didn’t want a black to come into their restaurant…” With poor Chic-Fil-A it’s discrimination – it’s exactly like the civil rights movement! The gays and their civil rights – they’re something completely different.

    • Profile photo of Wilson
      August 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm —

      He says (paraphrased) “One difference between the movements is that we were poor and we voted with our feet.” What exactly does he think gay people have been doing, with our marches, our speeches, and our lobbying? The image I get is that he thinks gay people are all like hedonism bot. We just sit around on divans, munching grapes and dictating public policy. Is he really not noticing the work we’ve had to do for our rights (and how it’s the exact same work he had to do)?

  13. Profile photo of jeh704
    August 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm —

    I really don’t believe that the majority of Americans care what these pastors have to say. In a 24 hour news cycle, all sorts of crap is plastered on your TV as “news”.

    They can believe what they want, speak as they wish (in this country), but do they honestly believe anything they say is going to change anyone’s mind?

    So I say to them: you’ve had your 15 minutes. Go home.

    • Profile photo of colinj
      August 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm —

      Yeah, it’s an unavoidable fact that in a free country hateful, self-serving assholes will always have a platform.

      The biggest worry is that people listen to them. Probably the same people who watch Fox news, listen to Nickleback and watch TWO AND A HALF MEN. Brain-dead sheep with no thoughts or opinions of their own.

    • Profile photo of Kammy
      August 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm —

      The pastors don’t have to convince a majority of American people. They only have to convince a lot of the people who already follow everything they say to not vote for President Obama.

      All these pastors need to do is shave a percentage of Obama’s support base. That’s why people like this are dangerous and need to be pwned at every opportunity. Apparently they’d rather have Republican’s who would like nothing more than to wipe out the social safety nets that are so important to many of their congregations, than let gay people get married. Cuz that’s what they’ll get if enough people withdraw their support of the President over this one issue.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      August 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm —

      Please don’t become apathetic.

      Remember, George W. Bush was elected TWICE.

  14. Profile photo of vitriolix
    August 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm —

    You can just feel the love oozing out of this guy

  15. Profile photo of lilith
    November 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm —

    Want to know what is really terrible? Gay people are forming churches that imitate the most primitive kinds of miricle-fraud and sexist suppression of feminist questioning and thinking. In other words, gay people are helping people remain closed-minded and callous about women’s pain in patriarchal religion. They insist on using “He” to represent “God”. They participate in the rejection of science in order to cling to their religion. They are deluded into the idea that they can “pass” for “Christian”. They think that as long as they can pass for Christian, they will live happy lives and fit in with the majority. But, acting like a camoflaged prey is not the way to survive the scriptural campaign against women, gays,children, people who just don’t like their gender role, foreigners, and Africans.

    I understand why people desire “miracles” or “magic”. It seems that they want wonder, surprise and hope. It seems that they can try for that and rationality and play with their minds also.

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