Andrew Sullivan: “War is declared”

In an emotional post that has already generated thousands of emails, Andrew Sullivan takes off the kid gloves and says President Bush’s support of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage will make gays see the Republican party “as their enemy for generations.”

Those of us who supported this president in 2000, who have backed him whole-heartedly during the war, who have endured scorn from our peers as a result, who trusted that this president was indeed a uniter rather than a divider, now know the truth.

This president wants our families denied civil protection and civil acknowledgment. He wants us stigmatized not just by a law, not just by his inability even to call us by name, not by his minions on the religious right. He wants us stigmatized in the very founding document of America. There can be no more profound attack on a minority in the United States – or on the promise of freedom that America represents. That very tactic is so shocking in its prejudice, so clear in its intent, so extreme in its implications that it leaves people of good will little lee-way.

This president has now made the Republican party an emblem of exclusion and division and intolerance. Gay people will now regard it as their enemy for generations – and rightly so. I knew this was coming, but the way in which it has been delivered and the actual fact of its occurrence is so deeply depressing it is still hard to absorb. But the result is clear, at least for those who care about the Constitution and care about civil rights.

We must oppose this extremism with everything we can muster. We must appeal to the fair-minded center of the country that balks at the hatred and fear that much of the religious right feeds on. We must prevent this graffiti from being written on a document every person in this country should be able to regard as their own…..

This struggle is hard but it is also easy. The president has made it easy. He’s a simple man and he divides the world into friends and foes. He has now made a whole group of Americans – and their families and their friends – his enemy. We have no alternative but to defend ourselves and our families from this attack. And we will.

Please go there and see some of the many, many emails Sullivan is posting. Some are heart-breaking, some are infuriating.

Josh Marshall sees the president’s speech yesterday as a blatant and invidious political move designed to drive a wedge between the parties and scare people into voting for Bush.

The support among conservatives has taken some real hits. The White House has decided that the long-predicted rising economy won’t float them through this election. The situation in Iraq looks wobbly and likely to get worse before it gets better. So deprived of the ability to run on his record he’s decided to save his political hide by trying to tear the country apart over a charged and divisive social issue which is being hashed out through the political process in the states.

It’s his dad and the flag burning amendment all over again. Is there really anything that tells you more about a man’s character than this?

I have never lobbied for gay marriage. I’ve tended to see it as an idea whose time has not yet come; Americans simply aren’t ready for it. But after seeing the pictures of young and old couples waiting for their marriage licenses in San Francisco, after seeing them glowing with pride, and after seeing John Edwards a few nights ago speak out against any constitutional ban on gay marriage –it all gave me a new perspective. Others must have been moved by this, even if they had prior doubts.

Unlike Edwards, Kerry has been his usual no-commitment self on this issue. I think he now has no choice but to endorse and embrace it. Bush has drawn a thick, ugly line in the sand, and Kerry can’t waffle or dillly-dally any more. If he doesn’t show some of John Edwards’ courage, he’ll look weak and pathetic to voters on both sides. (And I can hear the commenters in advance: “Kerry looks weak and pathetic already.” Agreed. Now’s his chance to help turn that around.)

Update: I edited this post when a commenter pointed out that Edwards has not endorsed gay marriage, but instead has spoken out against the proposed constitutional amendment banning it.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

Most refreshing was his blunt, fuck-political-correctness stand on gay marriage, which he openly endorsed. This is one of those third-rail issues, and watching an American presidential candidate take a real stand, without dancing around the topic with vague generalities, struck me as unprecedented.

I’m rooting for Edwards– far more than for Kerry, but this came as news to me. Edwards’s own website lists his personal position as against gay marriage, but his political position as for it (in what appears to be a federalist, state-by-state sense).

This doesn’t seem to be the same thing as Nader’s openly pro- stance, but I’ll take your word for it that Edwards went a step further on Leno. Other bloggers, in the meantime, still report Edwards as being personally against gay marriage. Perhaps Edwards will be revising his website soon to reflect where he is, post-Leno. I hope so, because it’s reassuring.


February 25, 2004 @ 9:36 am | Comment

Interesting, Kevin. Well I know I heard him say it, and I wasn’t drinking. It wasn’t like “I am for gay marriage,” but more like, “If two people love each other, whether members of the same or opposite sexes, and want to get married, that should be their right.” The audience cheered wildly, but of course it’s a California audience.

February 25, 2004 @ 9:43 am | Comment

I’ve got a quote from his website in one of my recent blog posts, here.

The link to Edwards’s pronouncement is here.

The quote I sample (w/regard to the MA decision):

“As I have long said, I believe gay and lesbian Americans are entitled to equal respect and dignity under our laws. While I personally do not support gay marriage, I recognize that different states will address this in different ways, and I will oppose any effort to pass an amendment to the United States Constitution in response to the Massachusetts decision.

“We are a nation comprised of men and women from all walks of life. It is in our national character to provide equal opportunity to all, and this is what unites our country, in laws and in shared purpose. That is why today, we must also reach out to those individuals who will try to exploit this decision to further divide our nation, and ask them to refrain from that effort.”


February 25, 2004 @ 10:16 am | Comment

Thanks for that. Like you, I see Edwards as the best of the lot. But I feel I have to support Kerry for one simple reason, i.e., he can win. I just read a great post in Ryan Lizza’s campaign journal on how for Democratic voters this year’s election is not about principle, it’s not about voting your conscience, it’s about one thing only — getting Bush out of office. So while I am far more impressed with Edwards, my support is going to Kerry. I have no choice. Especially after what Bush did yesterday — a fucking constitutional amendment over a non-issue created only out of people’s religious fears and prejudices. What a disgrace. What a sell-out. What a terrible president.

February 25, 2004 @ 10:29 am | Comment

It’s been nearly a week since Gov. Schwarzenegger, whose election was so enthusiastically supported by Sullivan, “came out” (as it were) firmly against same-sex marriages. But not a peep from Sully.

So much for Arnie the “pro-gay” Eagle.

February 25, 2004 @ 5:55 pm | Comment

Or maybe he simply can’t cope with the fact that he was so disastrously wrong about Ah-nuld.

February 25, 2004 @ 7:11 pm | Comment

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