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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Who Should Enjoy Credit for SSM Progress? My vote: Andrew Sullivan.

Success has many fathers, the old saying goes. With Obama finally coming out of the closet and embracing SSM openly, we might take a moment to pause and wonder: who warrants credit for this development?

Joe Biden the other day extended kudos to the TV show, Will and Grace. That might be right as a matter of mass culture. And no doubt Mitt Romney himself will eventually take credit for it, notwithstanding his current squeamishness. (Make sure to watch the Jon Stewart clip.)

But among the chattering classes of columnists, lawyers, and academics, many of whom were advocating SSM prior to Will and Grace, which only appeared 1998-2006, I think substantial (though certainly not exclusive) credit should go to Andrew Sullivan, and derivatively, through his support for Sullivan's editorship of TNR, Marty Peretz.  (For long-time readers, you may recall this is a point I made in a comment years ago with respect to an interesting exchange spurred by Ethan on whether TNR is "liberal.") 

Sullivan had edited TNR from 1991-1996. Whatever the merits of his editorship generally, and there were some wacky things that occured under his watch, he did an awful lot to persuade and then mobilize elite opinion and thought-leaders into support for same-sex marriage. He has remained a provocative and thoughtful writer on a range of political and cultural issues, but my sense is that his early years as a writer and editor for TNR will mark his most lasting contribution. Of course, this is just my speculation and no doubt it is related to when I became "aware" of the injustices to the LGBT community -- I was in college during Sullivan's editorship. So perhaps I should ask SSM supporters reading this blog who are roughly  five to 15 years older than I am (I'm turning 40 this year): when did you become an SSM supporter and who or what intellectual influences do you attribute it to?

Posted by Administrators on May 10, 2012 at 10:13 AM in Culture, Current Affairs | Permalink


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