Today it was announced through The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder, that Bush’s campaign manager Ken Mehlman is gay and no longer a politician but an activist for gay rights.
After he became the architect of much of the anti-gay rhetoric and policies during the 2004 Bush/Chaney presidency re-election, it seems he has build a new job for himself, fixing what damage he contributed to the gay community over the years.
Back in the day Mehlman worked on statewide ballots measures in various states that banned gay marriage, pushed George W. Bush’s support for a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the 2005 Sate of the Union, squashed hate crime legislation and oversaw not allowing the White House’s representative at the United Nations to sign onto a resolution condemning the criminalization of homosexuality.
Now Mehlman is turning a new leaf as an openly gay man and addressing his involvement in the past, "I can’t change the fact that I wasn’t in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally."
"I wish I was where I am today 20 years ago. The process of not being able to say who I am in public life was very difficult. No one else knew this except me. My family didn’t know. My friends didn’t know. Anyone who watched me knew I was a guy who was clearly uncomfortable with the topic."
"What I do regret, and think a lot about, is that one of the things I talked a lot about in politics was how I tried to expand the party into neighborhoods where the message wasn’t always heard. I didn’t do this in the gay community at all."
“It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life. 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.”
The questions that come to our minds and many of the gay blogs hitting on this topic is if Mehlman began coming out a year ago and went public to beat out any possible leaks and to become an advocate for gay marriage, then why has he still been donating to anti-gay politicians.
According to opensecrets.org he recently donated, $1,000 to Ben Quayle who is running for Congress in Arizona, labeled Barack Obama the worst President in history, and who just sent out a mailer to voters touting his opposition to marriage equality.
Here at Go Magazine we’d like to think the best of people and would like to send our support to anybody who is or has gone through their own personal struggles to come out. Though we could argue where he spends his money and whom he’s supporting he seems to be taking some of the right steps to combat the damage that has been caused to the gay-rights campaigns. We hope with his background and influence he just might be able to change some of the anti-gay Republican’s minds on the issues that he now faces as a gay man.
"What I will try to do is to persuade people, when I have conversations with them, that it is consistent with our party’s philosophy, whether it’s the principle of individual freedom, or limited government, or encouraging adults who love each other and who want to make a lifelong commitment to each other to get married."
"I hope that we, as a party, would welcome gay and lesbian supporters. I also think there needs to be, in the gay community, robust and bipartisan support [for] marriage rights."
Ed Gillespie, a former RNC chairman, supporter of opposing gay marriage and long-time friend of Mehlman said of his coming out, "It is significant that a former chairman of the Republican National Committee is openly gay and that he is supportive of gay marriage." Gillespie noted that the party had been inhospitable to gays in the past, and said that he hopes Mehlman’s decision to come out leads the party to be "more respectful and civil in our discourse" when it comes to gays.
Mehlman is set to co-host a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group behind the Proposition 8 lawsuit in California and without any invites out the pre-sales have already raised over $75,000.
The political strategist who organized opposition to Proposition 8, Chat Griffin stated that Mehlman had quietly contribution tremendously to AFER, adding, "When we achieve equal equality, he will be one of the people to thank for it."
Mehlman has opened up his contact list 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.
Dustin Lance Black, the Academy Award winning writer of "Milk," said, "Ken represents an incredible coup for the American Foundation for Equal Rights. We believe that our mission of equal rights under the law is one that should resonate with every American. As a victorious former presidential campaign manager and head of the Republican Party, Ken has the proven experience and expertise to help us communicate with people across each of the 50 states."
So what does an ex-politician, who had a helping hand in anti-gay topics, comes out making him the most powerful Republican in history to identify as gay do now? Well, besides becoming a gay activist he recently moved to New York’s popular upscale gay men’s neighborhood, Chelsea.
Welcome to the gaybohood Ken, now go and make a difference we all can be proud to support.
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