AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
For reaction now, we turn to writer and political blogger Andrew Sullivan. He is gay and married, and for years has been a leading advocate of same-sex marriage. He's the editor of the blog "The Dish" at The Daily Beast website. And, Andrew, I take it from what I've seen on your blog this afternoon you have mixed feelings about this development.
ANDREW SULLIVAN: I did have mixed feelings, but I thought beforehand that this is a state issue. The president's role in this is really circumscribed. One interview doesn't make a difference. And then I watched the interview and the tears flooded. There is something about hearing your president affirm your humanity that you don't know what effect it has until you hear it. And I think of all those gay Americans over the centuries who never heard that, never believed it could happen. And I have to say I'm immensely proud of this president for doing what he did.
I think he let go of fear today, the fear that somehow by embracing this natural, obvious and I would say conservative development he was sometimes - somehow embracing political calamity. He wasn't, he isn't, he won't. And exchanging fears for hope on this and affirming what we all know who have met him and seen him that he thinks of gay people exactly as he thinks of straight people, as human beings and Americans first. That's a great moment.
CORNISH: You called his past positions on same-sex marriage excruciating. In fact, you called them non-positions. Talk a little about that.
SULLIVAN: Well, there were. And I think it was getting increasingly absurd because he kept saying he believes in full equality for gay couples but not marriage. But you can't have full equality without marriage. Now, I think he had issues with marriage as a religious institution with its religious connotations. But I think after New York where the religious protections and protections for religious freedom were very strong, as I think they should be, I think he felt more comfortable about this. And coming after last night's really devastating defeat in North Carolina, this feels like a salve on a really deep wound.
CORNISH: It's also been noted that a lot of the big-money donors in the Democratic Party are gay and lesbian. And you've suggested that maybe this all just has to do with money. And do you still feel that way?
SULLIVAN: I told you how I feel. Analytically, I do think, look, we're talking about politics here. And I do think that with Wall Street being less generous than they were in 2008, gay donors and gay support is actually critical to fundraising. And I think many leading gay activists just told the White House quite clearly that if you were not do to this, then their support would not be forthcoming, especially after he declined to enforce an executive order banning discrimination against homosexuals in federal contracting.
So - but I didn't see that today. I mean, I'll see the whole thing tonight. I didn't see it today. I saw today the man I watched for five years now. And that is whom I heard in, as long ago as 2007, tell the mother of a gay son, I want your son to be equal and to have every right that a heterosexual has. I think getting past the M-word for him was a struggle. I don't he's alone in this. And I don't think it's crazy for people to feel this way. But I think he's evolved as Americans have evolved, suddenly rather quickly. And I think this is how it happens, suddenly rather quickly. What seemed unthinkable becomes obviously right.
CORNISH: Writer and blogger Andrew Sullivan, his blog "The Dish" is at The Daily Beast website. Andrew Sullivan, thank you for speaking with us.
SULLIVAN: You're so welcome. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.