by Greg Mayer
Most WEIT readers will know of Andrew Sullivan, the prolific conservative, gay, Catholic writer who practically invented political and cultural blogging as an ongoing form of writing. Given this capsule description, there were, as you might expect, a number of times when he and Jerry publicly clashed, but there were also a number of points of agreement: despite what you might expect of a conservative Catholic, Sullivan is a staunch secularist, who opposes the baleful influence on public policy of religionists of all stripes (the Christians among whom he decried as “Christianists”, in analogy with “Islamists”).
Earlier this year, Andrew stopped blogging, and Jerry took note, remarking on their disagreements, but also his respect for Andrew’s boldness in defying some of his Church’s strictures, and his dedication to writing and developing a community of online readers. In his remarks, Jerry noted that I was a regular reader of Andrew’s, and privately suggested to me that I post something here at WEIT, which I thought a good idea, but which, for varied reasons, I never did.
The Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision gives me a chance to offer just a few words, for Andrew– probably only for this instant– has returned to blogging, offering his thoughts on the decision, one for which he worked tirelessly. I won’t say here all I might have in a longer piece, but I will note that I greatly enjoyed Andrew’s writing and analyses, even when I disagreed, and that an important part of this was because he is open to relentless self criticism, and is open to, and has, changed his mind in the face of contrary evidence and argument, even on issues on which he had staked his reputation (e.g. the Iraq War). Part of this self criticism is how he handled comments from his readers, not via an open or moderated comment section (as here at WEIT), but by what was essentially a letters to the editor section. Andrew posted a judicious selection of the comments sent to him, but did not hesitate to post the voices most contrary and dissenting to his own. From personal experience, I can attest that the submitted comments were read and considered.
Andrew was one of the first to promote marriage equality, at a time when even gay rights organizations and their supporters thought it a kooky idea. When I first heard of the idea years ago, gay marriage seemed to me like a contradiction in terms– it was Andrew who convinced me otherwise. He worked very hard, against opposition from all sides of the political spectrum, to promote the idea, and did so just by the power of reasoned argument– he led no army of followers, no political party, no phalanx of lobbyists. His reflections on the accomplishment of marriage equality (and do reflect on the religious allusion of the title of his piece) that he and many others worked for are well worth reading.
Andrew, it’s good to have you back for a day, and goodbye again.