David Boies and Ted Olson, the formerly-dueling duo now litigating for gay marriage in California, were the guests of a forum at the New York Times last week, and former Newsweek editor Charles Kaiser reflected on just how far the Times has come, so that now it is a global role model for gay-friendliness. Their motto might be All the Progress That’s Fit to Push:
What was even more remarkable than the spectacle of a Reagan appointee making a full-throated defense of marriage equality was the atmosphere in which this confab took place. Most of those present were gay and lesbian New Yorkers invited to the event. But in the third row sat New York Times publisher and chairman Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. , and six rows behind him was Andy Rosenthal, the editor of the Times editorial page.
Thirty years ago, their fathers, Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger and Abe Rosenthal, were running this newspaper, and they shared such antipathy for homosexuals that gay employees of the newspaper believed that their careers depended on keeping their sexual orientations a secret.
But as the younger Sulzberger began his ascension through the paper’s corporate ranks, he did a remarkable thing: he made it clear to every single person who worked for him that he would not tolerate an iota of prejudice based on sexual orientation.
Practically overnight, he transformed what had been a relentlessly homophobic place into one of the most gay-friendly institutions in the world.
And when Sulzberger went against his father’s wishes and started publishing same-sex wedding announcements in the newspaper in 2002, he did at least as much as any state legislature could to legitimize the idea of marriage equality.
Not at all coincidentally, Andy Rosenthal’s editorial page has published more brilliant editorials in defense of equal rights for gay people than any other editorial page in the world.
What a difference a new generation can make!