When I heard that Ken Mehlman had come out of the closet, my first thought was that he had finally admitted he's a Democrat, but actually he says he's gay. However, it seems to come to the same thing. Marc Ambinder has the story, which he says he's been sitting on for years, in the Atlantic:
Aug 25 2010, 5:45 PM ET
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 there would be questions 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," Mehlman said. "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.
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.[More]
Alternatively, if he'd been not only gay, but in favor of gay marriage and gay sex in the Armed Forces, he might have been removed from his position as RNC chair, a position he also used to promote amnesty and Hispanic outreach. Here's a fairly typical example:
Worried about perceptions that the Republican Party is turning against Hispanic immigrants, Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman plans to court Hispanic voters more than ever next year. Mehlman is concerned that some conservatives are going too far with their arguments that immigration is out of control and illegals should be sent home, which has resulted in promises by some Latino leaders of retribution against the GOP in the midterm elections next November.
"Mehlman is concerned that we might become the party of Tom Tancredo on this,"...
White House Watch: RNC chair plans Hispanic outreach, By Kenneth T. Walsh, December 13, 2005