Thursday, August 26, 2010

Former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman: I'm Gay

From the Atlantic, courtesy of

Privately, in off-the-record conversations with this reporter over the years, Mehlman voiced support for civil unions and told of how, in private discussions with senior Republican officials, he beat back efforts to attack same-sex marriage. He insisted, too, that President Bush "was no homophobe." He often wondered why gay voters never formed common cause with Republican opponents of Islamic jihad, which he called "the greatest anti-gay force in the world right now."

Mehlman's leadership positions in the GOP came at a time when the party was stepping up its anti-gay activities -- such as the distribution in West Virginia in 2006 of literature linking homosexuality to atheism, or the less-than-subtle, coded language in the party's platform ("Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country..."). Mehlman said at the time that he could not, as an individual Republican, go against the party consensus. He was aware that Karl Rove, President Bush's chief strategic adviser, had been working with Republicans to make sure that anti-gay initiatives and referenda would appear on November ballots in 2004 and 2006 to help Republicans.

Mehlman acknowledges that if he had publicly declared his sexuality sooner, he might have played a role in keeping the party from pushing an anti-gay agenda.


Chad Griffin, the California-based political strategist who organized opposition to Proposition 8, said that Mehlman's quiet contributions to the American Foundation for Equal Rights are "tremendous," adding that "when we achieve equal equality, he will be one of the people to thank for it." Mehlman has become a de facto strategist for the group, and he has opened up his rolodex -- recruiting, as co-hosts for the AFER fundraiser: Paul Singer, a major Republican donor, hedge fund executive, and the president of the Manhattan Institute; Benjamin Ginsberg, one of the GOP's top lawyers; Michael Toner, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission; and two former GOP governors, William Weld of Massachusetts and Christie Todd Whitman of New Jersey.


Okay, classy guy.

Seriously. He, apparently, wasn't one of those family values assholes caught with his hand in the cookie jar, or tapping his toes in the men's room, or vacationing with a pay-for-stud. Indeed, if we can take Mehlman at his word, he delicately worked inside the GOP to soften its harsh anti-gay stance. I mean, I guess I could criticize him for not being more stridently pro-gay, but the guy's a Republican, for chrissakes, and feels that his party, for the most part, represents his political views. What are you supposed to do, change all your political beliefs simply because you fancy boys instead of girls?

I'm also impressed that he's putting his money where his mouth is, and I don't mean the way guys like Ted Haggard did: now that he's out of the closet, he's using his skills as a political organizer to further the cause of gay rights. Despite his association with some pretty harsh right-wing political policy, Mehlman is an honorable man, as both a closeted and now out gay American--I've gotta give credit where it's due.

But this latest conservative man-on-man revelation leaves me with a major unanswered question: are all Republicans secretly gay? I mean, of course not, but just how many GOPers crave the taste of such forbidden fruit on the down low? I'm starting to believe that the actual numbers might be astounding.

Guess we'll have to wait and see.