Former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman Comes Out of the Closet
This post first appeared on Balloon Juice. Never saw this coming:
Ken Mehlman, President Bush’s campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has told family and associates that he is gay.Mehlman arrived at this conclusion about his identity fairly recently, he said in an interview. He agreed to answer a reporter’s questions, he said, because, now in private life, he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage and anticipated that questions would arise about his participation in a late-September fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that supported the legal challenge to California’s ballot initiative against gay marriage, Proposition 8. “It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” said Mehlman, now an executive vice-president with the New York City-based private equity firm, KKR. “Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I’ve told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they’ve been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that’s made me a happier and better person. It’s something I wish I had done years ago.” 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.What is the world coming to? Next they will tell me Roger Clemens is on steroids! I kind of felt a twinge of sorrow for him until I read the bit about Republicans fighting “Islamic jihad” for the gay rights. But that, on top of the horrible pain he and that team inflicted on gay people makes just wish awful things that I’d rather not repeat. I know, I know, that violates the Balloon Juice credo of “If you can’t say anything nice put it on the front page of the blog,” but I’m really having some nasty thoughts about this choad. And where are Billmon’s archives about the evil and self-loathing lavender bund?