Andrew Sullivan: Gay Activists Creating 'Civil Rights Movement Without Toleration'

Andrew Sullivan: Gay Activists Creating 'Civil Rights Movement Without Toleration'

Gay columnist Andrew Sullivan is getting pummeled by fans for standing against the actions of gay activists who forced Mozilla to dump its new CEO, Brendan Eich. Sullivan is undaunted, however, saying that gay activists are creating a civil rights movement built on hate – not one advocating toleration.

In an April 6 blog post, Sullivan delved even deeper into the “illiberal” intolerance he saw from gay activists over the Mozilla/Eich incident.

Even as Sullivan reiterated that he thinks the right has engaged in this sort of fascist-like attack on freedom and a civil society, he is even more insistent that his compatriots in the gay rights movement have devolved into the same sort of hate. The attack on Eich, Sullivan feels, is a prime example.

Sullivan insists that too many in the gay community and those that support them are avoiding the “ugly truth” of what really happened to the CEO.

“Brendan Eich was regarded as someone whose political beliefs and activities rendered him unsuitable for his job,” Sullivan said. He then noted that, if this had happened in similar circumstances, it would actually be illegal, breaking California’s workplace employment laws that prevent employers from firing people based on their political ideology.

The Daily Dish blogger did understand that, because Eich was upper management, the law didn’t exactly apply to his situation. But Sullivan did feel that Eich’s ouster violated the spirit of that law.

Sullivan also made a very important and prescient point on a “civil society.”

“The ability to work alongside or for people with whom we have a deep political disagreement is not a minor issue in a liberal society,” Sullivan wrote. “It is a core foundation of toleration. We either develop the ability to tolerate those with whom we deeply disagree, or liberal society is basically impossible. Civil conversation becomes culture war; arguments and reason cede to emotion and anger.”

The blogger also pointed out that gay activists who think “with theological certainty” that people who are against same-sex marriage aren’t just against same-sex marriage but are evil and actually hate gays are acting exactly like those on the opposite end of the spectrum who actually do feel that being gay makes someone evil.

And one ugly manifestation of absolute certainty in near-theological movements is their approach to dissidents. Dissidents in these absolutist groups are outlawed, condescended to, pressured, bullied, lied about, trashed, slandered, and distorted out of any recognition. In this case, a geeky genius who invented Javascript and who had pledged total inclusivity in the workplace instantly became the equivalent of a Grand Master in the Ku Klux Klan. And yes, that analogy was–amazingly–everywhere! The actual, complicated, flawed human being was erased by thousands who never knew him but knew enough to hate him. Because that’s all they need to know. No space was really given for meaningful dialogue; and, most importantly, no mercy was given without total public repentance.

Sullivan then reminded his readers that Brendan Eich literally pleaded with everyone to give him a chance to prove that he didn’t hate gays. But the gay activists refused to give him a fair hearing.

This prompted Sullivan to slam the direction the gay rights movement has taken.

A civil rights movement without toleration is not a civil rights movement; it is a cultural campaign to expunge and destroy its opponents. A moral movement without mercy is not moral; it is, when push comes to shove, cruel.

He wrapped up his piece by warning his fans not to become the sort of “hateful mob” they claim to be fighting.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at