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The Most Important Political Writer Of His Generation

It’s Andrew Sullivan, says Ross Douthat. [1]Ross says it’s not just about gay marriage, and makes the case for how Sullivan embodied the Zeitgeist in many ways, for better and for worse. But on gay marriage, which has wrought the most profound and far-reaching social changes since the Civil Rights movement, Sullivan has made a profound and undeniable difference. Excerpt:

 I think the case of his work on gay marriage is distinctive. No doubt there would have been a major push for same-sex wedlock without Sullivan: Deep trends favored its adoption, other eloquent writers [2] made the case [3], and other countries and cultures have taken different routes to a similar destination. But no writer of comparable gifts was on the issue earlier, pushed harder against what seemed at the time like an unassailable consensus, engaged as many critics [4] (left and right, gay and straight) and addressed himself to as many audiences as Sullivan. No intellectual did as much to weave together the mix of arguments and intuitions that defines today’s emerging consensus on the issue — in which gay marriage is simultaneously an expression of bourgeois conservatism [5] and the fulfillment of the 1960s’ liberative promise, the civil rights revolution of our time and a natural, Burkean outgrowth of the way that straights already live [6]. And no intellectual that I can think of, writing on a fraught and controversial topic, has seen their once-crankish, outlandish-seeming idea becomes the conventional wisdom so quickly, and be instantantiated so rapidly in law and custom.

Again, it’s awfully hard to separate ideas from tectonic shifts in culture and economics, and I have enough of a determinist streak to doubt John Maynard Keynes’s famous maxim that “the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.” But just as Keynes heard clear echoes of “academic scribblers” and “defunct economists” in the rhetoric of his era’s politicians, so I hear echoes of arguments that Andrew Sullivan, and often Andrew Sullivan alone, was making thirty years ago in almost every conversation and argument I’ve had about gay marriage in the last ten years. There’s no other issue and no other writer where the connection between things I read as a teenager and lines I hear today is as clear and direct and obvious. And if that isn’t evidence of distinctive, far-reaching influence then I don’t know what is.

I agree with this, and note well that I’m somebody who, like Ross, disagrees with Andrew’s position on gay marriage, and on other things too. And I call Andrew my friend, and mean it, even though I think he’s tragically and consequentially wrong on gay marriage. That said, for all his many faults and failings (some of which I share, along with other sins particular to myself), there can be no denying that Andrew Sullivan, with the power of his words, his ideas, and his tireless advocacy, more than any other led a successful revolution against the ancien régime. Credit him or blame him, but you have to recognize him.

I think he’s something of a Danton figure. Now, I fear, come the Robespierres.

Or maybe the Danton comparison is too imprecise to be of any use in understanding Sullivan’s historical role in these events. As I’ve written here recently [7], the gay-rights revolution is the capstone of the Sexual Revolution, and is inconceivable without it. What Sullivan did — and he wasn’t alone, but as Douthat says, he was there first, and most effectively — was build off the ground cleared by the Sexual Revolution — the bourgeoisification of what were, within living memory, outlaw sexual values — and claim it for the ultimate outlaws in the traditional Christian vision of sex and sexuality: gays and lesbians. What Sullivan and those he helped lead did was radical — and he achieved it by making a kind of conservative case for a revolution, by forcing what people in the post-Christian West already believed about sex, religion, and individual liberty to its natural conclusion. That’s something. That’s something huge.

Fifty years from now, he may be seen as a hero, or he may be seen as a villain. But he will be seen, and that’s Douthat’s point.

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86 Comments To "The Most Important Political Writer Of His Generation"

#1 Comment By mt On July 3, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

I think that a more important commentator on this issue and the connection between marriage and self government generally is Maggie Gallagher. Her interview on National Review today is another good read.

[NFR: I agree with Maggie, but she’s not nearly as influential as Sully. I wish she were more so! — RD]

#2 Comment By JonF On July 3, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

Absent some demographic calamity that kills a lot of men but few women, polygamy is not in the cards.

#3 Comment By LindaH On July 3, 2013 @ 10:48 pm

Glad to hear your take on Sully’s importance as a voice in the political arena, especially with regards to gay marriage. As a regular Dish reader, I agree to the fullest.

Sully is why I began reading your work here, even though I disagree with most of your conclusions. A good writer of thought provoking ideas is hard to find and I’m happy I’ve found you.

I also read Little Way because of Sullivan’s repeated endorsements and the interesting Ask Anything videos you did with The Dish. I found the segment on treating cancer illuminating, an echo of what I heard Hubert Humphrey say decades ago during his slog through chemo, that it was, “living death.”

I felt deeply moved by your story of your sister and how her dying brought together her family and her community in faith and service. I’m challenged by your suggestion that Ruthie was a saint while carrying a grudge toward you even into the grave. I guess I’m less magnanimous than you.

In spite of that, Little Way was a profoundly touching book for me and offered lots to ponder in the realm of the value and depth and meaning of my own life. In its aftermath, I had one of the most in-depth, searching, enlightening existential discussions with my husband that I have ever experienced in the 22 years we’ve been together.

So, thank you for being here.

#4 Comment By John On July 3, 2013 @ 11:59 pm

Danton…maybe. Or he may end up like Burke and Wordsworth, who initially supported the Revolution until its excesses opened their eyes…

#5 Comment By RBH On July 4, 2013 @ 1:43 am

I can accept the notion that Andrew Sullivan at least saw the direction the US was heading and piled on, but it’s a bit of flattery to say he influenced it.

If nothing else, he is the zeitgeist: an embodiment of the notion that people shouldn’t conform themselves to any higher standard, but instead should conform the standards of society to their own personal pleasures and desires.

His arguments on most everything, including SSM, are embarrassingly simplistic. He’s case in point of the media double-standard that you point you often that asks only the easy questions to people it agrees with. If he’s an intellectual, then that standard is really low.

#6 Comment By JonF On July 4, 2013 @ 7:40 am

Sullivan writes on far more topics than Maggie Gallagher– pretty much everything au courrant in politics. He also highlights stuff that the MSM gives short shift to. Maggie Gallagher is a one-note Janey writing pure SoCon boilerplate, nothing new under that sun at all.

#7 Comment By Alex On July 4, 2013 @ 9:34 am

I think “trads”–by which I assume you mean traditionalist social conservatives–have been very clear about what they want: no gay marriage, please.

Then why do they complain about wedding photographers in New Mexico (where there is no gay marriage) or church-owned public pavilions in New Jersey (where there is no gay marriage)?

What else do you need to hear?

I want to hear what modifications Rod and others want to make to public accommodation and non-discrimination laws. In the New Jersey case for example, they’re complaining about how a property that was “open for public use on an equal basis” was successfully sued by a pair of lesbians who wanted to use it for a commitment ceremony (not a marriage). Does this mean that their goal really is to deny gay people the use of open public spaces?

#8 Comment By Kristoofus On July 4, 2013 @ 10:20 am

During a time in my life when I was depressed and trying to come to terms with being gay–still wrestling with all of the demonic stigmatization attached to it from my Catholic and conservative upbringing and the general scorn and fear I imbibed from the culture at large (this was prior to homosexuality’s “bourgeoisification”)–I flipped on the TV one night and stumbled across Charlie Rose interviewing an earnest and intelligent young Sully. He was openly gay, gentle and courageous, and seriously engaged with his culture and his faith on the issue. “Whoa,” I thought. “You mean, that’s what being gay could look like, too?” Whatever his personal failings and excesses (I certainly will not throw the first stone), and however Sully is remembered by the culture at large, I owe him a great debt of gratitude for showing me a path out of the dark and lonely closet.

#9 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 4, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

Alex, in all fairness to the trads, the initial spin being put on the New Jersey case was that a church property was sued for not hosting a ceremony that violated the doctrine of that church. This was perhaps spin bordering on deliberate lying by faux conservative blogs with an interest in making the case what it was not. It was perhaps careless of Rod and others to assume that some blog was telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But at least some of the broad sweeping language used by the judge who made the ruling, and by the plaintiff’s attorney, did feed the flames. I too was fooled.

Now that its been clarified, this was a recreational property that received special tax benefits based on a commitment to open the space for public use, we know that there was a legitimate basis to the suit, and that the First Amendment is not being threatened, that there is no imminent precedent for an injunction requiring a Southern Baptist Church to host a gay wedding in the name of “equality.” But its not beyond belief that SOME local judge somewhere, relying on semantics rather than a rigorous understanding of judicial precedents, will issue such an order. It bears watching. There are would-be plaintiffs ignorant enough to think they could win such a case. I’m quite confident any such ruling would be overturned on appeal.

I think Kristoofus’s testimony should give pause to anyone who takes a hard-line anti-gay position. I’ve been very clear that I don’t think its sound law to apply the equal protection clause and come up with an argument that states MUST issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But I think it should be evident by now that homosexual rather than heterosexual longings is something that happens to some very nice people, that they don’t seek it out or opt for it, and that they have to live their lives in the most fulfilling way they can, taking it into consideration. If Sullivan has helped to make that clear, good for him.

#10 Comment By Tyro On July 4, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

If he’s an intellectual, then that standard is really low.

I think we pretty much abandoned having “public intellectuals” in our country. Our true intellectuals work behind closed doors churning out policy in and ideas at conferences you’ve never heard of working in universities and agencies that you don’t spend much time in. Those who “speak to the public” were young college students groomed to perform the fine arts of rhetoric and glib prose for various magazines and to appear on news panels. I don’t think it’s fair to expect Sully to be an intellectual, because that’s the way our public discourse works.

#11 Comment By Art Deco On July 4, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

He was openly gay, gentle and courageous, and seriously engaged with his culture and his faith on the issue.

1. He is not known to be particularly courageous about anything (compare Sullivan to Michael Kelly). He has not in at least 28 years had an employer that would have taken issue with his homosexuality and was never compelled to make a public point of it.

2. He does not play the obnoxious vulgarian a-la- Dan Savage. That having been said, he is not immune to the games people play when they are trying to make a point, nor to partisan stupidity. (See his obsession with Sarah Palin’s uterus).

3. He has no particular ‘engagement with his culture and his faith’. His position is that if he enjoys it, the Church is wrong.

#12 Comment By Art Deco On July 4, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

Those who “speak to the public” were young college students groomed to perform the fine arts of rhetoric and glib prose for various magazines and to appear on news panels. I don’t think it’s fair to expect Sully to be an intellectual, because that’s the way our public discourse works.

Ralph McInerney combined commentary with academic research. So does Robert George.

#13 Comment By Art Deco On July 4, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

I think Kristoofus’s testimony should give pause to anyone who takes a hard-line anti-gay position.

Nope.

#14 Comment By Chris 1 On July 5, 2013 @ 12:59 am

Fifty years from now, he may be seen as a hero, or he may be seen as a villain. But he will be seen, and that’s Douthat’s point.

You can count on the fingers of one hand the percentage of people who remember William F. Buckley and/or Gore Vidal.

50 years from now Andrew Sullivan will be a footnote compared to those intellects, and thus this is really about the self-aggrandizement of the punditry.

Those who are remembered make a difference, they don’t talk about making a difference.

#15 Comment By Chris 1 On July 5, 2013 @ 12:59 am

Fifty years from now, he may be seen as a hero, or he may be seen as a villain. But he will be seen, and that’s Douthat’s point.

You can count on the fingers of one hand the percentage of people who remember William F. Buckley and/or Gore Vidal.

50 years from now Andrew Sullivan will be a footnote compared to those intellects, and thus this is really about the self-aggrandizement of the punditry.

Those who are remembered make a difference, they don’t talk about making a difference.

#16 Comment By Alex On July 5, 2013 @ 8:00 am

Now that its been clarified, this was a recreational property that received special tax benefits based on a commitment to open the space for public use, we know that there was a legitimate basis to the suit, and that the First Amendment is not being threatened, that there is no imminent precedent for an injunction requiring a Southern Baptist Church to host a gay wedding in the name of “equality.”

Perhaps, but Rod has said before that in any clash between gay rights and Christian rights, he’d want to see the Christians prevail because Christianity is true. I think it’s entirely fair to as, “Really? Even in this case?” NOM is certainly still pushing this as an example of religious freedom violation, three years after they used it in their “Gathering Storm” ad and all the facts of the case were made plain to them.

Many trads aren’t just seeking “no gay marrige” – they’re actively seeking for the ability of religious organizations and individuals to be exempted from non-discrimination and public accommodation laws in the name of religious freedom. And in doing this, they really do need to be more specific in their goals and answer some questions.

First and foremost, is this an exemption that will be exercised only against gay people? If so, they’re going to have to explain why accommodating gay people in secular transactions in uniquely horrible in a way that accommodating any other type of non-believer or sinner isn’t (and it’s going to be really hard for them to avoid sounding full of animus if they choose this route). This was maybe something that they could get society to go along with 30 years ago – today it’s going to take some hard work and deliberate argument.

If this is a much broader religious freedom exemption that they’re seeking, then they’re going to have to be realistic that this is going to allow a lot more discrimination than society currently tolerates. Are we fine with allowing Muslim cab drivers to refuse to pick up passengers carrying alcohol or who are wearing yarmulkes? With Evangelical adoption agencies refusing adoptive parents who are atheists or Catholics? With small hotel owners refusing to accept guests who are in interracial marriages? This is not a trivial change and it’s going to require trads to be very specific and focused in their goals and arguments.

So far, I haven’t seen that trads are doing the work necessary to make their case or answer the big branching question above.

#17 Comment By Art Deco On July 5, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

Many trads aren’t just seeking “no gay marrige” – they’re actively seeking for the ability of religious organizations and individuals to be exempted from non-discrimination and public accommodation laws in the name of religious freedom. And in doing this, they really do need to be more specific in their goals and answer some questions.

Since ‘non-discrimination’ laws are offensive to principles of free association, this would be perfectly proper.

#18 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 5, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

Alex, I’m not sure that Rod said the law should stack the deck so that Christianity wins. One can desire that Christianity should win because Christianity is true, and believe that in any political system, in the long run, if Christianity is true, it will win.

IF Rod meant, the courts should find in favor of Christianity because Christianity is true, that opens up a huge can of worms, but I’m not sure Rod opened it up. I think he was expressing a personal desire, and of course, as an individual citizen with one vote, he can act accordingly.

Its true that various organizations and web sites continue to pump allegations that have been shown to be false.

Incidentally, religious ORGANIZATIONS are entirely free to discriminate, as long as it is based on faith and doctrine. Individuals, in the public square or in commerce, not so much. But individuals have freedom of speech.

#19 Comment By logical atomist On July 5, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

One thing that has helped Andrew Sullivan greatly is that he is a person of such an obvious high moral character. He seems to rely to examine his own beliefs and generally take seriously the arguments and positions of those he disagrees with on most issues. Obviously, nobody is perfect, but Sullivan really is head and shoulders above 90% of the people you see writing on contentious issues.

What is surprising to me is the number of commenters here who seem to believe that Sullivan’s position on this is based on some kind of coarse hedonism. I can’t believe these people have actually read and bothered to considered what he has written. I suppose if you start out with a deep belief that homosexuals are some kind of immoral, subversive monsters, then listening to someone like Andrew seems to be some kind of of Satanic act. But that’s no way to get at the truth. whatever it may turn out to be.

#20 Comment By isaacplautus On July 5, 2013 @ 11:56 pm

Let’s also remember that Sullivan in 2007 predicted Obama’s victory at a time when everyone assumed it would be Clinton. He also understood that, far more than the Clintons, Obama would decisively upend the Reagan coalition. There’s no doubt the GOP hates the criticisms Sullivan has leveled at them. A child always hates the alcohol that cleans out their wound and desperately wants to try anything rather than the real remedy. But like it or not, if conservatives listened to Sullivan they might have a shot at fielding a Presidential candidate who can win 270 electoral votes. There’s a reason Fox News banned Sully from appearing: They know he’s right.

#21 Comment By Ray S. On July 6, 2013 @ 8:37 am

Sullivan is a bad guy. Not because of his views,or personal life. Foe much of the vitriol and hate that comes from his writings and statements.

#22 Comment By EliteCommInc. On July 6, 2013 @ 10:41 am

“You mean, that’s what being gay could look like, too?” Whatever his personal failings and excesses (I certainly will not throw the first stone), and however Sully is remembered by the culture at large, I owe him a great debt of gratitude for showing me a path out of the dark and lonely closet.”

What? Self realization, happiness about your state ithout getting married? Say it ain’t so. Imagine that.
_______________________________________
“I suppose if you start out with a deep belief that homosexuals are some kind of immoral, subversive monsters, then listening to someone like Andrew seems to be some kind of of Satanic act. But that’s no way to get at the truth. whatever it may turn out to be.”

Until I the arguments contending for benefits and marriage I never thought of homosexuals as subversive, skipping the immoral question as to the act — it is certainly abnormal based on human design and intention, In light of scripture – since that is where the reference of Satanic pertains — it is clearly defined as sinful and in that context anyone ho claims a faith based on scripture New and Old Testaments, it is immoral – there’s no escape from that bind.

On the matter of truth, the homosexual community has a very open and long standing history of playing fast and loose with the truth.

Several examples:

1. marriage of people of the same sex is the same (equal) as people of opposite sexes

2. homosexuality is normal biological function

3. homosexuals have a history of harm from the larger population – especially those christians

4. homosexual behavior is the result of some biological (genetic trait)

5. that happiness is derived from the law

6. by ignoring and downplaying the violent assault on at the 1973 APA conference which hich changed the classification of the condition

7. The continued manufacturing of research data which contradicts the premises of their own research — so much so that it has tainted the entire community.

I ould say that leaves the advocates of this behavior as wanting of moral efficacy

#23 Comment By Art Deco On July 6, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

One thing that has helped Andrew Sullivan greatly is that he is a person of such an obvious high moral character.

Let go of my leg.

#24 Comment By Andrew On July 6, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

Let’s also remember that Sullivan in 2007 predicted Obama’s victory at a time when everyone assumed it would be Clinton.

I predicted Obama’s victory about the same time–I mean it. The “difficulty” of predicting this victory, granted the size of the sample space, was about the same as predicting tale or face in coin’s toss, with some considerations of the context, of course. Well, I predicted (with scores of people as witnesses around me) a disaster in Iraq even before military operations started in 2003. Does this make me anyone special? I don’t think so. This whole discussion shows the precipitous decline of the standard of political discussion. No REAL insights or intellectual breakthroughs are necessary–just some mundane, matter of fact, conclusions on the part of punditry which are treated as incredible intellectual feats and revelations. The word professionalism, that is knowledge of the subject matter, have been washed out of the lingo of the modern “journalists” being substituted with the ability to string some words together better than the average Joe and having a better set of the skills in occupational demagoguery . Many (not all) of those live by one desire–to fit the title of a thinker to own gigantic egos, while in reality remaining nothing more than incompetent opinion generators and agenda conduits. Sure, what’s the problem of having a range of the opinions on such diverse subjects as military operations and promoting SSM agenda? This calls for immediate establishment of the academic programs in such fields as auto-mechanic-gynecologist or plumber-intelligence analyst and why not? The whole body of Sullivan’s opinions testifies to the very real possibility of such a diverse academic programs.

And then, of course, there is SSM. It is a disaster with the far reaching consequences but who cares–many seem to be fascinated with the fact that Sullivan “influenced” legitimization of this whole calamity. Who cares, indeed, if it is right or wrong, moral or not. It is success for the sake of success, which is so attractive to many. As long as the final product sells–it is a success. No matter if the “product” is poison. “Trads” in the USA (to whom I belong) lost the whole SSM discussion not because of some nascent historical gay forces, not because of some perceived great talents, of which there are few, of pundits like Sullivan but because they were not ready to face the battle beyond the safe walls of religious doctrines. Other than that–sure, Sullivan is “most important writer of his generation”. And he probably is, I doubt, though, that he is the most important thinker. In fact, I doubt he is thinker at all.

#25 Comment By Andrew On July 6, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

One thing that has helped Andrew Sullivan greatly is that he is a person of such an obvious high moral character. He seems to rely to examine his own beliefs and generally take seriously the arguments and positions of those he disagrees with on most issues.

Many people examine their own beliefs. I, for example, examine my beliefs in love, reproduction, bringing children up and educating them all the time. Somehow this decades’ long examination (and evolution, I may add) of those beliefs does not evolve towards accepting screwing some other man’s anus as something natural and normal, no matter how I try. But that is just me. The name of the game is changing the frame of reference–it always was. But that is a strategic goal, the tactical one is rewriting the definitions. SSM crowd does it better since knows that style over substance always wins for the mob. Hey, many straights (male mostly) still think that anorexia and ugliness of the fashion models is sexy. Here, fashion (read: gay) community enjoyed and overwhelming success. More “successes” are coming. Life goes on.

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 6, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

EliteCommInc upends all the stereotypes about what “all conservatives” believe and what “all liberals” and/or “cultural leftists” believe. He’s passionately arguing that Zimmerman is guilty of premeditated homicide, and staring down the “homosexual community” on “gay marriage.” I don’t entirely agree on either point, but I love that he’s a unique individual speaking up for whatever makes sense to him, not conforming to any artificial paradigm.

He made the following statements about what “the gay community” has been getting away with:

1. marriage of people of the same sex is the same (equal) as people of opposite sexes

I agree that this is fundamentally false. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are distinct and different conditions. Homosexual acts are distinct and different from heterosexual acts. Heterosexual couples are different from two gay men, and both are different from two lesbians. Three different relationships, none of them similarly situated.

2. homosexuality is normal biological function

I think that’s debatable, and depends on your understanding of “normal.” I’m sure Geoff G feels quite normal to Geoff G. I wouldn’t question it. I don’t believe homosexuality is UNIVERSAL to all human beings. I think it probably is a random by-product of heterosexuality, and in that sense, not normal, but an almost mathematically and chemically inevitable variation, which renders it in a certain sense “normal.”

3. homosexuals have a history of harm from the larger population – especially those christians

Well there’s no question that’s true … also Jewish and Muslim. Socrates and all those other classical philosophers modern conservatives think we need to bring back into education probably didn’t have a problem with homosexuals at all. Japanese samurai warriors considered it normal to engage with a boy and a woman at the same time.

4. homosexual behavior is the result of some biological (genetic trait)

I don’t know any solid science to prove or disprove that one. It may turn out to be a possible outcome of several genetic and epigenetic conditions. But nobody can claim “the science is established.”

5. that happiness is derived from the law

I’m not sure ANYONE says that, not even lawyers.

6. by ignoring and downplaying the violent assault on at the 1973 APA conference which hich changed the classification of the condition

I don’t know the history of that. IF the APA were honest, they would have said, gee, maybe we didn’t fully understand this condition, and we really don’t know either a cause or how to treat it, so we’ll just table the matter and suggest that therapists be very cautious about jumping to any conclusions.

7. The continued manufacturing of research data which contradicts the premises of their own research — so much so that it has tainted the entire community.

I don’t think ALL research either way is tainted with so much deliberate chicanery. I do think that in social science, it is very difficult to isolate variables to the point that any reliable conclusions can be drawn, that researchers generally start with a bias and tend to prove their own bias, and that there is always plenty of data that points the other way.

#27 Comment By EliteCommInc. On July 7, 2013 @ 1:08 am

And that The American Conservative would be applauding anyone who advanced the matter based on false and unsubstantiated claims is strange, but apparently they applaud his style and skill at advancing a series of falsehoods.

#28 Comment By tbraton On July 7, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

“I mean, say “Clare Booth Luce” to a young person and see the blank stare.”

Well, you could say to a young person “Sam Adams?,” and he would probably reply “no, I’ll have a Beck’s.”

#29 Comment By Mia On July 7, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

Maybe Andrew Sullivan changed the conversation about gay-rights in the political world, but that alone does not change society. Society is mainly a status quo institution, unless the average citizen joins with large numbers of people like themselves to protest the status quo. (Democrats excel at questioning the status quo; Republicans, not so much). Saying Andrew Sullivan influenced the gay-rights movement is like saying LBJ influenced the Civil Rights movement. Both were indeed major players; however, it took decades of protests by the Civil Rights movement to influence the Voting Rights Act and demand equal access to African-Americans. The gay-rights movement was made possible because of the Civil Rights movement. Equality for all is both a simple and complex concept. You either believe in equality for all or you don’t. Once you start rationalizing why one group deserves equal rights and another doesn’t, you are really encouraging disparate treatment. I view equality as Christian conservatives view the word of God. I won’t budge on my beliefs. In fact, I can find a lot more Bible passages on ensuring equality for people who are not part of the traditional power structures than I do for Bible passages arguing against gay marriage.

#30 Comment By Ray S. On July 7, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

I actually see him as a person of extremely low character. He was also an original “truther”though not against Obama,but against an infant(Trig Palin). But,because he’s a gay,former conservative turned leftist it’s all good.

#31 Comment By Andrew On July 7, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

Once you start rationalizing why one group deserves equal rights and another doesn’t, you are really encouraging disparate treatment

Absolutely, I am rationalizing now about implanting ovaries in man’s…hm..whatever is available. After all, why is such a disparate treatment–men deserve to have equal rights with women and be subjected to the joys of childbearing and birth, adding periods with PMS seems to be equal enough too. In the same time we should redouble our efforts in reviving full functions for women’s prostates. I also propose the equal voting rights for children ages 3 through 10, plus insist on allowing men to dance the part of Giselle or dance the Dance of Four Little Swans. This will ensure that we have no disparate treatment. In fact, white men should be allowed to play roles of Malcolm X or MLK in the movies, while black actors should concentrate on portraying such characters as George Washington or Lincoln. That will show them nasty evil-doers, encouragers of the disparate treatment. Equality for all groups!!!!

P.S. Anyone who denies midgets to serve as F-22 pilots should be immediately thrown out of USAF and those who designed F-22 fighters should immediately be tasked with creation of the midget size F-22, F-35 etc. National Defense Authorization Act could easily be amended.

#32 Comment By sglover On July 7, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

Sullivan’s career arc shows what a joke the “public intellectual” schtick has become (if it was really anything other than a joke). He’s a hysteric, and face it — the guy just isn’t that bright. How many times was he duped by frauds and plagiarists when he’s was playing “editor”?

#33 Comment By sglover On July 7, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

One thing that has helped Andrew Sullivan greatly is that he is a person of such an obvious high moral character. He seems to rely to examine his own beliefs and generally take seriously the arguments and positions of those he disagrees with on most issues.

Yeah, darling Andy luuuuvs showboating his “struggles” — which on even cursory examination are about as profound as any late-night dorm room stoner session. Best line I heard about Sullivan’s “struggles” is this: “I know a lot of people who ‘struggle’ with numbers. I don’t ask them to do my taxes.”

Oh, and about this “obvious high moral character”: You must not remember when darling Andy’s pharmaceutical industry payoffs surfaced. That was one “struggle” he somehow managed to avoid until he had to.

Dumb and slimy. Thaaaat’s Andy!

#34 Comment By sickoftalking On July 7, 2013 @ 6:35 pm

I didn’t read anything by Sullivan in the late 80s and early 90s, but by the time he came into the mainstream, he just seemed to be piling on top of the “hate is not a family value” train that was already under way, which tried to de-legitimize any conservative beliefs about marriage or about sexuality by equating them with bigotry. I didn’t find that either novel, or honest.

Mia,

I never viewed this marriage fight as particularly about gays.

Everyone else was excluded from the same arrangements that gays were excluded from. As a straight man, I couldn’t co-habit with a man whom I loved in a fraternal sense, and get employer benefits. Nothing either stopped an openly gay man from deciding to find a woman to be a mother to a child. That might seem like an obtuse statement, but its not. People assume all the time that every straight man or straight woman cares about romantic relationships and want to enter a marriage as such. Not all do — and they’re in the same boat as gay men and women. With all the same limits and restrictions.

I’m such a person, and if I wasn’t going to ever marry a woman, I wouldn’t have been able to marry a man, either. So you can imagine, as someone who didn’t feel discriminated against, himself, why I didn’t think gay people were, either.

So what would you say to me, that I was really being discriminated against and didn’t know it?

What would Justice Kennedy have said if gays were never an issue — if someone came before the Court and said that it was an Unconstitutional state of affairs that people weren’t able to marry someone they had no romantic interest with? Would he agree with them, and say the reason people were against that was formed from animus and an attempt to degrade them?

I see this whole argument coming not from the civil rights movement, but from postmodern philosophy: 1. a society that defines marriage in an absolute way is considered inherently “oppressive” (hetero-patriarchal), 2. people’s lives are inherently sex-centered, and 3. in order for marriage to be defined in a progressive way, it has to revolve around people’s sex lives.

That’s why conservatives were instinctively against it. Because it depended on a postmodern way of framing identity, society and social relationships.

From what I’ve read, Andrew Sullivan’s own argument for marriage ended up being that gays being able to get married would help reconcile them with their parents. He had a pretty postmodern approach himself.

#35 Comment By the unworthy craftsman On July 7, 2013 @ 10:24 pm

Sullivan is everything I loathe about the self-centered, “socially liberally, economically conservative” elites of this country. He’s the anti-TAC. The likes of him are what I come here for an antidote from.

#36 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 8, 2013 @ 12:13 am

I think Andrew is on to something here. And it all comes down to the fundamental point, equal protection of the laws is about people who are SIMILARLY SITUATED. I don’t have ovaries, so when it comes to ovaries, the law doesn’t have to treat me the same way as people who do. I’ve always said though, if you think its discrimination against men that only women can have pregnancy leave, let’s provide by law that any man or woman who is pregnancy is entitled to pregnancy leave.

Similarly, any homosexual or heterosexual who wants to marry a person of the opposite sex (whether that partner is homosexual or heterosexual) may do so.