74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
Dan Savage's new book examines the notion of gay marriage and whether or not it's a good thing -- not just for the USA, that is, but also for Dan Savage himself and his partner of 10 years, Terry.
Part introspective memoir, and part tirade against dinosaur-minded virtuecrats currently behind the wheel in Washington D.C., "The Commitment" is at all times an energetic wake-up call questioning just what it is that drove eleven (mostly) red states to pass "anti-gay marriage" Constitutional amendments last November. Savage is strongly in favor of gay marriage in general, while not sure whether he himself wants to marry. This give the book the dimensions it needs to succeed.
The best chapters are "Blue", in which Savage looks at the current political state of this country, while casting a hopeful eye at nearby Canada; and "Two Moments of Transcendent Bliss". Followers of Savage will know that he and Terry jointly adopted a son who is now a skateboarding metalhead 6 year-old. In this latter chapter, Savage has to explain to his son what it is to be gay, and what it is to be married. If you can't make it through that chapter without being swayed by the pro-marriage argument, then none of the rest of this book is going to work for you.
I'll admit that while I'm something of a left-winger, my views have never swayed as far to the left as the death-to-Israel politics of NYC's alternative weekly "The Village Voice", where I first discovered the "Savage Love" column. I also had no strong opinion on gay marriage until last year, when I took sides during the run-up to the Presidential election. By the end of "The Commitment", I did have to question why I remained undecided on the issue for so long.
Savage's writing is 100% partisan and 100% persuasive, and he is most certainly not one of (to quote another recent partisan screed) one of the 100 people ruining America.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
How do I effectively convey my feelings after reading this book? First off I am so glad it's been written. So glad that there is something that can be put into other people's hands that examines this ridiculous opposition to gay marriage with a sense of humor, heart, and a little thing called facts. (Something the Christian right likes to forget about in their pursuit of oh so compassionate discrimination.) What I love about the book is he doesn't moralize, and tell anyone what they should do, instead it's simply the journey that he and his boyfriend Terry go through. That process manages to create a myriad of viewpoints that structures much of the book's backbone, from his pressuring Mother, to his brother adopting a somewhat "gay lifestyle" in regards to co-habitating with his girlfriend, and their somewhat open relationship.
My son is two and it can be incredibly frustrating and sad listening to these Bible Thumping Red State Imbeciles spouting just plain lies in the name of Jesus to create a political victory. Luckily this book was a reminder that regardless of what careless and nasty things have been said or will continue to be said about gays and their rights to marriage and children, love is ultimately what makes a family. Love makes a commitment, and sometimes that's loud enough to drown out all the other white noise.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2005
Dan Savage is by far at his best and funniest when he sticks to memoir, reporting on the squabbles and crises of his daily life. That's why this book is much better than the last one, "Skipping Towards Gomorrah," which tended to veer into ranting and contrivances, but not quite as good as "The Kid," which had a little more meat to its story.
Here, the back-stories of his relatives and their marriages or lack of them are moderately interesting. There are a few anti-religious-right rants that go on too long, but only a few. It's the conversations between Dan and his boyfriend and their son, in all their crankiness and irrationality, that make this book stand out. It really comes into its own in the last couple of chapters, which had me laughing out loud.
It's great to read a book by someone who cares deeply about gay rights, yet can make fun of the part of himself that wants to get married in order to make people take his "Big Gay Love" seriously. He's confident enough to be honest, and that makes his book fresh and entertaining.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
In April 2001 the book group I belong to read Savage's "The Kid (What Happened After my Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant): An Adoption Story," and we haven't shut up about it since. Thus, I was really jazzed to read this new book about the pressures being brought to bear on Savage and his longtime companion Terry to tie-the-knot. He has an uncanny ability to communicate all of the various emotions that he and Terry experience as they go through the process of deciding if marriage is right for them, as well as those of their six year-old son and Savage's surprisingly supportive Catholic mother.
Savage is, above all, a very talented, very funny writer. Known for his blistering attacks on the Radical Right, this book features a generous amount of acerbic comments and oberservations. The majority of Savage's vitriol is reserved for the absurd rationales the Right uses to bully and marginalize gays and lesbians and our relationships. He calls attention to the hypocrisy of people such as Rush Limbaugh, who has been married four times, yet has the unmitigated temerity to claim that gays are incapable of monogamous, long-term relationships.
Just as he did in "The Kid," Savage has managed to put a very human face on these very real, very gay people. He has created a book with a genuine universal appeal that manages to perfectly illustrate why same-sex couples deserve equal status under the law. A whole slew of books on this topic have been published in recnt years, and though the only one I've read is Andrew Sullivan's "Same-Sex Marriage Pro & Con: A Reader," I can't imagine that any of the others are as personal, poignant, hilarious or accessible as this book.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2011
Please don't "unhelpful" this review before you read it! I'm a serious Dan Savage fan; a longtime reader and listener. This review is for the AUDIOBOOK version of "The Commitment" only.
First, I've already read the book and liked it. Then, I checked out the audiobook from my library, out of curiousity, and it very nearly ruined the book for me altogether.
Dan Savage has a distinctive voice and I enjoy listening to him. It's gentle and soft, but coarse and tough in funny, ironic, wry and unexpected ways.
On the other hand, reader Paul Michael Garcia sounds nothing like Savage and - sorry - comes across sounding just like a boring old stereotype. I'm not saying he's gay but he sure SOUNDS the way a sitcom would cast a typical gay guy, and the words "my boyfriend" just don't sound the same coming out of his mouth as they do from Savage's.
I gave this a good long listen, hoping the voice would grow on me, but it just grew more and more cloying, like some weird kind of identity theft, as this reader tried to relate to the often-bizarre events of Savage's life (his boyfriend's dog's accident, surgery, and later handicaps, for example).
I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and the readers are usually excellent and well-matched with their material. In this case, however, I found the combination utterly woeful and ultimately, unlistenable.
I suppose Savage had to give his approval to this book at some point, but I'm not sure how when it sounds just like an imposter has appropriated his words. Sorry, but I just didn't like it.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2005
If you are like me, you may feel you are already overdosing on the "gay marriage issue", which has apparently replaced "gays in the military" as the hot-button issue for politicians, journalists, talk-show hosts, religious-(not)right bigots and many gay activists. Though I have heard of Dan Savage and read a couple of brief articles of his on Salon.Com, I have not seen his column or previous books, but earlier reviews of this book sparked my interest.
In my opinion, "The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family" should be required reading for anyone, on either "side", who wants to debate the right of same-sex couples to wed. It is an intelligent, realistic and often hillarious first-person account of the author's own experience in reconciling the concept of gay marriage with his own successful relationship with Terry, his partner of ten years, with whom he has adopted a son, "D.J." now six years old. While the author shares the minority opinion that gay couples should be allowed to marry, and supports the limited laws that permit this in Massachusetts, Canada and many foreign countries, he's not quite sure he and Terry would decide to wed. Between his own concerns that it might "jinx" the successful relationship he already has, his partner sees it as gay men "posing" as straights, and his son, a budding "metal head" who, while he loves his "two dads" very much ... and would definitely partake of the cake after the ceremony ... thinks the idea of two men saying "I Do" and kissing is just too "Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww" for his taste.
Enter the Savage family from the south side of Chicago, including Dan's divorced parents (father is a conservative Republican, mother is a liberal who pushes the couple to marry), and his three siblings (straight, but two of the three are "shacking up" without the formality of marriage.) Mix in extensive research on the subject for Dan's column, including details of recent right-wing antigay legislation, as well as viewing the Bravo series on "Gay Weddings" which isn't exactly comforting to someone thinking of having one, and Dan and Terry conclude it might be a better idea to just get matching tatoos, certifying they "belong" to each other. But that didn't work out real well for Angelina Jolie, did it?
Clever and witty, informative and surprisingly fair to all points of view on this sensitive topic, Savage's book is persuasive without being preachy or condescending. The book builds up to the couple's ten year anniversary party, which would be an ideal time for them to marry, if they were so inclined (and which Dan's mother is strongly lobbying in favor of.) The "will they or won't they" makes the latter half of the book a delightful page-turner, with clever touches that make the book especially memorable.
Highly recommended. Also a perfect gift for anyone you feel needs an education on the subject.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2005
In this sequel to the absorbing "The Kid", Dan Savage takes readers on the harrowing first-person journey which he and his family undergo. Their family attempted to secure the benefits which are being guaranteed to other monogamous couples only because we are straight--and they are not.
Savage knows where he and his family stand under the law. Yet, this writing style works when and how it does precisely because Savage does not loose any audience through academic jargon.
His fluid and honest text works because it provides facts about how these policies are adversely hurting real families. He wants the largest number of people possible to recognize their own stake in the issue, pick up a copy of the book, and immediately understand it.
While Savage is explaining things to his son, I practically started crying. Yes, invoking kids with causes (either for or against) is a 'traditional' appeal, but none of the self-appointed family protectors railing against same sex marriage is apparently concerned with what knowing that his family is being discriminated against will do to this boy.
I honestly believe that same-sex marriage restrictions stand to damage Savage's son much more than having monogamous and committed parents who just happen to be gay.
This book is a good read for people working in the trenches against horribly misnamed 'pro-family' marriage amendments and also those people who are uncomfortable with same sex marriage bans but do not feel they know enough about the issue to be 'activist'.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2006
I think it was an earlier book by Mr. Savage that I described as "you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll blow milk out your nose..." but I'd like to use that line again.
Savage is a damn good writer -- ironic, witty, smart, funny, tender, acerbic and eerily moralistic for a man living with another man and writing about sex for a living. Oh well, it's the contradictions that give him depth.
He makes much of the fact that, of his siblings, he's the most traditional. His brothers and sister chide him that, in his family, he's the most prudish among them. And he makes fun of himself because, in his own family of boyfriend and son, he's the stereotypically gay one who cries at weddings and light romantic comedies. What a sap.
Much of the book of course is a meditation on marriage -- a rather recent (12th Century) invention of the Church designed to bind parishioners to their parish -- and why being denied that silly piece of paper makes it seem so much more seductive.
Savage takes predictable jabs at the illogic of so-called "Defense of Marriage" legislation... at adoption forms with spaces for "mother" and for "father"... and at the current administration for packaging their Calvinistic fear of hedonism as a "family value." But he also writes clearly and concisely about the nature of love, the dignity of commitment and the importance of having defensible values in this crazy world.
In the end when you're writing a memoir (as Savage has done 3 times now) it's important to come off as "likable" because otherwise nobody is going to give a poop what you think or feel. To Savage's credit, I have long considered him one of my closest friends even though we've never formally met.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2005
LOVED the book. Bought it on Saturday and didn't go to bed until I finished it.
It's a great read and one that I intend to pass on to my parents, boyfriends parents, and all of our siblings.
Or maybe Dan would prefer that I let them all buy their own copies.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2005
Having grown up in an era where no role models for same-sex couples were visible, I find myself drawn to honest portrayals of relationships that work. I love the simple and direct language that Dan uses to tell us about his family. In addition to "love, sex, and marriage" as stated in the subtitle, this is a story about same-sex romance. Finally, a nonfiction romantic story with which I can identify!