Andrew Sullivan
OccupationWriter, editor, blogger
SpouseAaron Tone

Andrew Michael Sullivan (born 10 August 1963) is a British author resident in the United States, editor, political commentator and blogger. He describes himself as a political conservative,[1] though he has been increasingly at odds with the Republican Party (United States) on many issues.[2] His focus is U.S. politics but he frequently writes about culture and society.

Sullivan is a public speaker at universities, colleges, and civic organizations in the United States. He has been a guest on national news and political commentary television shows in the United States and Europe. Born and raised in England, he has lived in the United States since 1984 and currently resides in New York[3] and Provincetown, Massachusetts. He is openly gay and a practicing Roman Catholic.[4]

Sullivan is a former editor of The New Republic and the author of five books. He is best known as the author and editor of his blog, The Dish, which mainly focuses on political issues.

Personal life

Sullivan was born in South Godstone, Surrey, England, to a Roman Catholic family of Irish descent,[5] and was brought up in the nearby town of East Grinstead, West Sussex. He was educated at Reigate Grammar School,[6] and studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was awarded a first-class degree Bachelor of Arts in modern history and modern languages.[7] In his second year, he was elected president of the Oxford Union, holding the office in Trinity term 1983.

Sullivan earned a Master in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University,[8] followed by a PhD on government from Harvard, his dissertation being on the conservative British philosopher Michael Oakeshott.[9]

Sullivan, in 2003, wrote a Salon article identifying himself as a member of the gay "bear community".[10] On 27 August 2007, Sullivan married his husband Aaron Tone in Provincetown, Massachusetts.[11][12][13]

Sullivan had a long-expressed desire to become a U.S. citizen, but was barred for many years from applying for citizenship because of his HIV-positive status.[14][15] Following the statutory and administrative repeals of the HIV immigration ban in 2008 and 2009, respectively, Sullivan announced his intention to begin the process of becoming a permanent U.S. resident and citizen.[16][17] On the episode of The Chris Matthews Show of 16 April 2011, Sullivan confirmed that he is now a United States Permanent Resident, showing his United States Permanent Resident Card (aka Green Card).[18]

Editor and writer

In 1986, Sullivan began his career with The New Republic magazine, serving as its editor from 1991 to 1996.[7] In that position, he expanded the magazine from its traditional roots in political coverage to cultural issues and the politics surrounding them. During this time, the magazine produced some groundbreaking journalism but courted several high-profile controversies.

Sullivan began writing for The New York Times Magazine in 1998, but was fired by editor Adam Moss in 2002. Jack Shafer writes in Slate magazine that he asked Moss via e-mail to explain this decision, but that his e-mails went unanswered, adding that Sullivan was not fully forthcoming on the subject. Sullivan wrote on his blog that the decision had been taken by Times executive editor Howell Raines who found Sullivan's presence "uncomfortable", but defended Raines's right to sack him. Sullivan suggested that Raines had fired him in response to his criticism of the Times on his blog, and acknowledged that he had expected that his criticisms would eventually anger Raines.[19]


In late 2000, Sullivan began his blog, The Daily Dish. By the middle of 2003, it was receiving about 300,000 unique visits per month. Between starting his blog and ending his New Republic editorship, Sullivan wrote two works on homosexuality, arguing for its social acceptance. His writing appears in a number of widely-read publications. He currently serves as a columnist for The Sunday Times of London.

The core principles of Sullivan's blog have been the style of conservatism he views as traditional. This includes fiscal conservatism, limited government, and classic libertarianism on social issues. Sullivan opposes government involvement with respect to sexual and consensual matters between adults, such as the use of Cannabis (marijuana) and prostitution. Sullivan believes recognition of same-sex marriage is a civil-rights issue but is willing to promote it on a state-by-state legislative federalism basis, rather than trying to judicially impose the change.[20] Most of Sullivan's disputes with other conservatives have been over social issues, such as these, and the handling of postwar Iraq.

In February 2007, Sullivan took his blog from Time to the Atlantic Monthly magazine, where he had accepted an editorial post. Since then, his presence has increased traffic by 30% for Atlantic's website.[21]

In 2009, The Daily Dish won The 2008 Weblog Award for Best Blog.[22]

In April 2010, Sullivan was reported to be considering giving up his blog. However, Sullivan stated that he would continue blogging if he could obtain an extra staffer.[23]

Sullivan left The Atlantic to begin blogging at The Daily Beast in April 2011.[24] In 2013, Sullivan announced that he was leaving The Daily Beast to launch The Daily Dish as a stand-alone website charging subscribers $20-a-year.[25][26]

On 2 July 2012, Sullivan published the official "coming out" of Anderson Cooper, after receiving permission from Cooper to do so.[27]


Sullivan describes himself as a conservative and is the author of The Conservative Soul. He has supported a number of traditional conservative positions. He favours a flat tax, limited government, and opposes welfare state programs and interventionism.[28] However, on a number of controversial public issues, including same-sex marriage, social security, the U.S. government's use of torture, and capital punishment, he takes a position typically shared by those on the left of the U.S. political spectrum.[28] In July 2012 Sullivan said that "...the catastrophe of the Bush-Cheney years... all but exploded the logic of neoconservatism and its domestic partner-in-crime, supply side economics."[29] His position on abortion is mixed; he says that he personally finds it immoral and favours overturning Roe v. Wade, but can accept legal abortions in the first trimester.

Sullivan supported George W. Bush in the 2000 election.[30] In 2004, Sullivan reluctantly decided to support John Kerry's presidential campaign, in consequence of his dissatisfaction with the handling of the postwar situation in Iraq by the Bush administration, their views on gay rights, and their fiscal policy. In 2006, he supported the Democratic Party. Sullivan, among a number of other conservative writers, endorsed Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic Nomination in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, and Rep. Ron Paul for the Republican nomination. Sullivan endorsed Obama for President on the eve of the election.[31] Sullivan has declared support for Arnold Schwarzenegger[32] and other like-minded Republicans, and written sympathetically about Republican congressman Ron Paul, whom he endorsed for the 2008 and 2012 Republican presidential nomination.[33][34]

In January 2009, Tunku Varadarajan, Elisabeth Eaves and Hana R. Alberts, writing in Forbes magazine, ranked Sullivan No. 19 on a list of "The 25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media", writing that "he clings unconvincingly to the 'conservative' label even after his fervent endorsement of Obama. His advocacy for gay marriage rights and his tendency to view virtually everything through a 'gay' prism puts him at odds with many on the right."[35]

Sullivan rejected the "liberal" label, on the grounds that he supports a flat tax, rejects progressive taxation as unjust and counter-productive, is skeptical of universal healthcare "on European lines" and supports a free market in healthcare and pharmaceuticals, strongly, supports "fighting a war against Jihadist terror", and therefore does not meet Forbes magazine's own criteria for a "liberal", which include support for progressive taxation and universal healthcare and "a certain queasiness about the war on terror." He argued that Forbes writers, including Tunku Varadarajan, whom he called "smart and decent", consider him a liberal because he is "openly and proudly gay" and because "conservatism has become a religious movement" while he does "not believe that any specific form of religion has a veto in determining who is or is not a political conservative in a secular society."[2]

LGBT issues

Sullivan has largely supported a liberal definition of gay rights, which he articulated in his book Virtually Normal. In it, Sullivan examines and criticises mainstream liberal, conservative, and the "prohibitionist" (far right) and "liberationist" (far left) political views on homosexuality. He argues for a policy that supports privacy rights and equal government treatment, but does not support private sector anti-discrimination laws.

Sullivan has been critical of civil unions, which he has dubbed "marriage lite." He has argued that civil unions will only serve to weaken the unique status of marriage, not only for gays and lesbians, but also for heterosexuals.

In the 2004 election, Sullivan criticised the Republican Party for what he saw as its political exploitation of a despised minority:

I've been trying to think of what to say about what appears to be the enormous success the Republicans had in using gay couples' rights to gain critical votes in key states. In eight more states now, gay couples have no relationship rights at all. Their legal ability to visit a spouse in hospital, to pass on property, to have legal protections for their children has been gutted. If you are a gay couple living in Alabama, you know one thing: your family has no standing under the law; and it can and will be violated by strangers. I'm not surprised by this. When you put a tiny and despised minority up for a popular vote, the minority usually loses.[36]

In 2001, it came to light that Sullivan had posted online anonymous advertisements for unprotected anal sex, preferably with "other HIV-positive men".[37] Liberal gay critics took Sullivan to task for this in light of his public statements that the AIDS crisis was over,[38] and for having criticised President Clinton's "incautious behaviour".[39] This criticism was in turn objected to by Salon's Cliff Rothman, who argued that it was a violation of Sullivan's privacy to publish information about his sex life, and that Sullivan's critics were attempting to punish him for his political views.[40]

While he has long advocated same-sex marriage, Sullivan has drawn criticism for his 2006 doubts on monogamy:[41][42][43]

For me the interesting point came when Dan and I agreed that moderate hypocrisy – especially in marriages – is often the best policy. Monogamy is very hard for men, straight or gay, and if one partner falters occasionally (and I don't mean regularly), sometimes discretion is perfectly acceptable. You could see Erica Jong bridle at the thought of such dishonesty. But I think the post-seventies generation – those of us who grew up while our parents were having a sexual revolution – both appreciate the gains for sexual and emotional freedom, while being a little more aware of their potential hazards.[44]

Sullivan opposes hate crime laws, arguing that they undermine freedom of speech and equal protection.[45] He also opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, arguing that it will, "not make much of a difference" and stated that the "gay rights establishment" was wrong to oppose a version of the bill that did not include gender identity.[46]

On 2 July 2012, Andrew Sullivan reported the coming out of Anderson Cooper on his blog. Cooper gave him prior permission, and this is the first time Cooper has broken his silence over his personal life. Cooper felt that more harm was coming from his complete silence, and felt the release of choice information was merited.[27]

War on drugs

Sullivan has written blog entries criticising the excesses of the War on Drugs. He argued that studies showed alcohol is more dangerous than cannabis, yet the former is legal and the latter is illegal.[47][48] He gave examples purporting to show that the government has used torture in the War on Drugs.[49] Regarding the cannabis prohibition, he wrote,

For my part, I find the attempt to ban any naturally growing plant to be an attack on reality, and a denial of some of the most basic freedoms. I guess that's why today's GOP is so in favour of it.[50]

On 13 July 2009, Sullivan was ticketed within the Cape Cod National Seashore for possession of marijuana, but the case was dismissed the following month.[51] This has led to accusations of preferential treatment.[52]


Sullivan devoted a significant amount of blog space to covering the allegations of fraud and related protests after the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Francis Wilkinson of The Week stated that Sullivan’s “coverage – and that journalism term takes on new meaning here – of the uprising in Iran was nothing short of extraordinary. ‘Revolutionary’ might be a better word.”[53]

Sullivan was inspired by the Iranian people’s reactions to the election results and used his blog as a hub of information. He repeatedly spoke of the significance of the moment in history. Among them:

This is an immense story of human freedom in a critical part of the world. After Obama's election, it is the biggest event in world history this year. And letting these courageous protestors know that we are with them is vital. Telling the world of their integrity and bravery against the thuggery of these theocratic despots is God's work. The blogosphere can lead the way, but the MSM is catching on.[54]

Because of the media blackout in Iran, Iranian Twitter accounts were a large source of information. Sullivan frequently quoted and linked to Nico Pitney of The Huffington Post.[55]

Sarah Palin

Sullivan has been a vocal critic of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin since John McCain named her as his running mate in 2008. During an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher on 18 September 2008, Sullivan called Palin's nomination "a joke and a farce" and "something that should be dismissed out of hand as the most irresponsible act any candidate has ever made in the history of this country." He frequently accused John McCain of poor judgment in his selection and his campaign of inadequate vetting of her.[56][57]

In August 2008, Sullivan wrote on his blog about a widespread rumour circulating on the Internet that Palin faked her fifth pregnancy, the baby was actually her daughter's, and that this was motivated by political reasons.[58] After a photograph surfaced in which she appeared to be pregnant in the appropriate time period,[59] Sullivan admitted that she was most likely pregnant, but "not in the last year" and continued with questions about whether she actually gave birth to the child.[60] Politico called him "a man possessed" in his support for the theory, noting intensive coverage of the issue in his blog over a short period.[61] The Wall Street Journal reported that according to people familiar with discussions among Palin's advisers, Palin considered a libel suit against him over the issue, but eventually decided against it.[62]

Sullivan contends that Palin is an habitual liar, which he has chronicled in a series entitled “The Odd Lies of Sarah Palin.” As of 30 June 2009, Sullivan has claimed that his blog had refuted 29 public statements made by Palin. Of Sullivan’s perceived “odd lies” of Palin, he states on his blog:

But I did learn of several new odd lies – in the same classic pattern of categorically denying things that are categorically and patently and verifiably true. This is not, as this blog noted in the campaign, the typical political lie, the Clintonian parsing of truth or lying when the truth cannot easily be discovered. It is the statement that it is night when it is clearly, by universal aggreement Template:Sic, three o'clock in the afternoon.[57]


Sullivan identifies himself as a faithful Catholic while disagreeing with some aspects of the Vatican's position. In Virtually Normal (ISBN 0-679-42382-6), he argues that the Bible forbids same-sex sexual activity only when it is linked to prostitution or pagan ritual. During an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher on 19 September 2008, Sullivan described himself as a "religious secularist", and challenged Maher on criticisms of religion and people of faith, saying, "To dismiss all religious people based on the actions of the most literalist dumb ones, I think is bigotry."

His views led him to have concerns about the election of Pope Benedict XVI. In Time Magazine for 24 April 2005 in an article entitled, "The Vicar of Orthodoxy", Sullivan stated his criticisms of the new pope.[63] He expressed his view that the current pope is opposed to the modern world and women's rights, and deems gays and lesbians to be innately disposed to evil. He has, however, agreed with Benedict's assertion that reason is an integral element of faith.

Sullivan takes a moderate approach to religion; as such he vocally rejects fundamentalism of any kind, and describes himself as a "dogged defender of pluralism and secularism". He defended religious moderates in a series of exchanges with atheist Sam Harris in which Harris maintained that religious moderates provide cover for fundamentalists and make it impossible for anyone to effectively oppose them.[64]

In a blog entry on 12 March 2009, Sullivan summarised his faith journey to date in this way:

Perhaps the institution dearest to me, the Catholic church, greeted the emergence of gay people in a way that never truly reflected the compassion of Jesus or the good faith arguments many of us offered as a way forward. This was sad to me, but not life-changing. I know the Holy Spirit takes time, as James Alison reminds us. But then came the sex abuse crisis. Like many others, the truth about the evil in the heart of the church, and the cooptation and enabling of that evil, and the refusal to take real responsibility for the evil, simply left me gasping for air. I realise now that my Catholic identity never recovered, even if my faith endures in a far more modest and difficult way.[65]


As author
  • Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality (1995). Knopf. ISBN 0-679-42382-6.
  • Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex and Survival (1998). Knopf. ISBN 0-679-45119-6.
  • The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back (2006). HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-018877-4.
  • Intimations Pursued: The Voice of Practice in the Conversation of Michael Oakeshott (2007). Imprint Academic. ISBN 978-0-907845-28-7
As editor
  • Same-Sex Marriage Pro & Con: A Reader (1997). Vintage. ISBN 0-679-77637-0. First edition
  • Same-Sex Marriage Pro & Con: A Reader (2004) . Vintage. ISBN 1-4000-7866-0. Second edition
  • The View From Your Window: The world as seen by readers of one blog (2009).


  1. Liberal Blogger Andrew Sullivan Says Obama 'May Even Have Lost the Election' Last Night: Agree? Liberal Blogger Andrew Sullivan Says Obama 'May Even Have Lost the Election' Last Night: Agree?: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back. Andrew Sullivan, HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-018877-4
  2. 2.0 2.1 Read Andrew Sullivan in TheAtlantic magazine (24 January 2009). Forbes' Definition Of "Liberal" – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan. Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  3. Sullivan, Andrew. New York Shitty. The Daily Beast. Retrieved on 11 October 2012.
  4. Homosexuality in a Catholic Context, with Andrew Sullivan and David Morrison at Boston College, WGBH Forum.
  5. Raban, Jonathan (12 April 2007). Cracks in the House of Rove: The Conservative Soul by Andrew Sullivan. New York Review of Books. Archived from the original on 8 July 2008. Retrieved on 28 July 2008.
  6. Notable Past Pupils. The Old Reigatian Association, Foundation and Alumni Office, Reigate Grammar School. Archived from the original on 24 June 2008. Retrieved on 28 July 2008.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Andrew's Bio. The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 27 July 2008. Retrieved on 28 July 2008.
  8. Van Auken, Dillon. "Andrew Sullivan Lectures at IOP", 18 November 2011. Retrieved on 25 January 2012. 
  9. Brooks, David. "Arguing With Oakeshott", 27 December 2003. Retrieved on 25 January 2012. 
  10. I am bear, hear me roar!. Salon (1 August 2003). Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  11. "At Artomatic, a Rocket Ship Blasts Off; That's the Breaks", The Washington Post, 26 April 2007. Retrieved on 25 April 2010. 
  12. Independent Gay Forum – The Poltroon and the Groom. Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  13. Sullivan, Andrew. "My small gay wedding is finally here help", The Times, 19 August 2007. Retrieved on 25 April 2010. 
  14. Q&A with Andrew Sullivan (see 45:44 to 46:27). October 2006). Retrieved on 19 December 2009.
  15. Retrieved on 25 May 2009.
  16. The HIV Travel Ban: Still In Place. The Daily Dish. Retrieved on 29 January 2013.
  17. Free At Last. The Daily Dish. Archived from the original on 26 December 2009. Retrieved on 19 December 2009.
  18. Weekend of April 16–17, 2011 – Videos – The Chris Matthews Show. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved on 17 April 2011.
  19. Raines-ing in Andrew Sullivan (15 May 2002). Retrieved on 1 August 2010.
  20. The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper. (24 June 2004). Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  21. A Venerable Magazine Energizes Its Web Site – New York Times
  22. The 2008 Weblog Awards. The 2008 Weblog Awards. Archived from the original on 8 August 2010. Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  23. 4 Jun 2010 (28 April 2010). Can the Author Survive the Internet?. The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 6 July 2010. Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  25. Gillmor, Dan (3 January 2013). Andrew Sullivan plans to serve Daily Dish by subscription. The Guardian. Retrieved on 6 January 2013.
  26. Bell, Emily (6 January 2013). The Daily Dish may feed minds but when Andrew Sullivan taste a profit?. The Guardian. Retrieved on 6 January 2013.
  27. 27.0 27.1 [1]
  28. 28.0 28.1 You must specify title = and url = when using {{cite web}}.. Retrieved on 30 June 2012.
  29. "Yglesias Award Nominee" The Dish 6 July 2012
  30. "Who's Getting Your Vote?", Reason, 2004-11. Retrieved on 27 October 2008. Archived from the original on 29 October 2008. 
  31. The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (November 03, 2008) – Barack Obama For President. Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  32. Saturday, October 11, 2003.
  33. The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan. Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  34. "Ron Paul For The GOP Nomination" 14 December 2011, The Daily Beast
  35. Varadarajan, Tunku; Elisabeth Eaves and Hana R. Alberts (22 January 2009). "The 25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media". Forbes. 
  36. Monday, November 1, 2004. Archived from the original on 1 November 2004.
  37. Andrew Sullivan, Overexposed. The Nation. Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  38. Politics | My story was ethical. Salon (5 June 2001). Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  39. Andrew Sullivan's jihad. Salon (20 October 2001). Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  40. In defense of Andrew Sullivan. Salon (2 June 2001). Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  41. Freedom's orphans By David Lewis Tubbs, pg 83
  42. Stanley Kurtz on gay marriage
  43. The New Gay Conservatives "Sullivan himself has been criticized by the neo-conservative William Bennett for advocating 'gay adultery'"
  44. The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan. Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  45. The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (May 3, 2007) – Hate Crimes and Double Standards. Archived from the original on 8 March 2009. Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  46. Andrew Sullivan Supports Barney Frank / Queerty. Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  47. Drugs and Toxicity Andrew Sullivan
  48. Dangers of Drugs Andrew Sullivan
  49. Torture and the War on Drugs
  50. The Trouble With Pot Andrew Sullivan
  51. Shea, Christopher. "Sullivan avoids pot charge; judge objects", Boston Globe, 11 September 2009. Retrieved on 11 September 2009. 
  52. Salzman, Jonathan. "Dismissed marijuana charge raises judge’s ire", Boston Globe, 12 September 2009. Retrieved on 12 September 2009. Archived from the original on 15 September 2009. 
  53. The future belongs to Andrew Sullivan
  54. Read Andrew Sullivan in TheAtlantic magazine (13 June 2009). A Hewitt-Sullivan Alliance – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan. Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  55. Read Andrew Sullivan in TheAtlantic magazine (22 June 2009). Is Iran Calming Down? – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan. Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  56. Read Andrew Sullivan in TheAtlantic magazine (11 September 2008). The Gibson Interview – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan. Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  57. 57.0 57.1 Read Andrew Sullivan in TheAtlantic magazine (30 June 2009). Palin – The Horror – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan. Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  58. The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (August 31) – Things That Make You Go Hmmm. Retrieved on 4 October 2011.
  59. The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan. Retrieved on 4 October 2011.
  60. The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (September 1, 2008) – She Looks Pregnant Here. Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  61. The Sarah Palin-media co-dependency – Michael Calderone. Politico.Com. Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  62. Wallsten, Peter (14 November 2009). Palin's Book Tour Builds on Effective Web Strategy. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on 11 August 2010.
  63. Andrew Sullivan. "The Vicar of Orthodoxy – TIME Magazine", Time, 24 April 2005. Retrieved on 9 March 2009. Archived from the original on 20 March 2009. 
  64. Is Religion 'Built Upon Lies'?. Retrieved on 9 March 2009.
  65. Sullivan, Andrew (12 March 2009). Clinging to the Wreckage. The Atlantic. Retrieved on 25 September 2009.

External links

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