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Sullivan, Andrew (b. 1963)  
 
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Social and political commentator Andrew Sullivan has established himself as an influential participant in Anglo-American political discourse. A senior editor of The New Republic, an essayist for Time, a columnist for the Sunday Times of London, the author of two books, and a pioneer blogger, the prolific Sullivan articulates a conservative-libertarian point of view, tending toward conservatism in fiscal and foreign policy and libertarianism in social issues.

Born on August 10, 1963 to a middle-class Irish Catholic family in South Godstone, England, a suburb of London, Sullivan early distinguished himself as an outstanding student. He earned an undergraduate degree at Oxford in modern history and modern languages. At Oxford, he was Chair of the university's debating society, the Oxford Union.

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In 1984, Sullivan was awarded a prestigious Harkness Fellowship to study in the United States. He earned an M.A. in Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard, where he wrote his thesis on the conservative British philosopher Michael Oakeshott.

Sullivan began a free-lance writing career as an undergraduate, but became a nationally known figure when he was appointed editor-in-chief of The New Republic in 1991, a position he held until 1996. Not only was he the youngest editor in the history of The New Republic, he was also the first openly gay editor-in-chief of a major mainstream news magazine. While at The New Republic, Sullivan was named Editor of the Year by Adweek, and received National Magazine Awards for Reporting, General Excellence, and Public Interest.

Sullivan is credited (or blamed) for helping move the venerable New Republic in a conservative direction. Never a stranger to controversy, he made waves on the left with his critique of the Clinton healthcare plan and the publication of excerpts from The Bell Curve, Charles Murray's widely contested book on race and intelligence. At the same time, he stirred controversy on the right with his coverage (and support) of gay rights and his publication of articles by lesbian libertarian critic Camille Paglia.

Even Sullivan's departure from The New Republic in 1996 was controversial. Whether he left on his own free will or whether he was fired remains in question. He had recently revealed that he was HIV-positive (having tested positive in 1993) and may have needed to leave the stress of his job for medical reasons, or he may have lost an internal power struggle within the organization. In any case, upon his departure, he accepted the title Senior Editor.

Sullivan's 1993 essay "The Politics of Homosexuality," published in The New Republic, was called the most influential article on gay rights of the 1990s by The Nation magazine. Sullivan has written extensively on gay issues, including the critically-acclaimed books Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality (1995) and Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex and Survival (1998).

Although Virtually Normal is sometimes described as a conservative book, it actually follows in the mainstream of American liberalism, arguing for public tolerance of homosexuality and homosexuals. What makes it seem conservative is that it eschews the radical left perspective that has dominated glbtq political thought. It has been contrasted especially with Urvashi Vaid's Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation, also published in 1995.

Love Undetectable is a treatise on the virtue of friendship, and combines three essays on the plague of AIDS, homosexuality, and psychotherapy. Sullivan has also edited an anthology entitled Same Sex Marriage: Pro and Con (1997, rev. ed. 2004).

A self-described "South Park Republican," Sullivan frequently espouses gay rights in the language of conservatism and traditional values. In a 1989 New Republic article in support of legalizing gay marriage, for example, Sullivan argued that the concept of domestic partnership undermines the importance of the marital bond, which he believes should be supported by the government for the social role it performs in promoting "emotional stability, economic security and the healthy rearing of the next generation." Therefore, he argues, rather than recognizing domestic partnerships we should "legalize old-style marriage for gays."

A practicing Roman Catholic, Sullivan often writes from the perspective of a Catholic moral tradition, though he has been very critical of the Church's recent pronouncements on homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and gays in the priesthood.

Although Sullivan endorsed George W. Bush in the 2000 Presidential election, he withdrew his support for him in the 2004 election, citing the administration's position on gay rights and its mishandling of the war in Iraq. He particularly criticized the Republican Party's cynical exploitation of homophobia for political gain.

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Andrew Sullivan appearing on the Chris Matthews Show on MSNBC in 2012.
  
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