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Welcome Out, Ken Mehlman

Jim Burroway

August 25th, 2010

In bringing to an end what was probably the worst-kept secret in politics, former GOP chairman Ken Mehlman has publicly confirmed 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 be asked 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.”

Obviously, this brings up a host of questions concerning Mehlman’s role in the President George Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign, as well as his role in some of the GOP’s anti-gay activities in 2006. According to The Atlantic’s Mark Ambinder:

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.

“It’s a legitimate question and one I understand,” Mehlman said. “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.” He asks of those who doubt his sincerity: “If they can’t offer support, at least offer understanding.”

“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.”

He said that he “really wished” he had come to terms with his sexual orientation earlier, “so I could have worked against [the Federal Marriage Amendment]” and “reached out to the gay community in the way I reached out to African Americans.”

Mehlman had been publicly outed by LGBT advocate Mike Rogers in 2004 and 2006, and he was one of the subjects of the documentary film Outrage, which discussed the phenomenon of closeted gay politicians who work against LGBT rights, and even LGBT dignity. Mehlman at the time refused to address questions surrounding his sexuality. He now admits that he mislead several people who had asked him directly.

Now that he is out, his goal is to become an advocate for gay rights within the Republican Party.

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.”

I think this is a good time for me to interject my own thoughts here. I definitely think that Mehlman should have come out earlier, and I fully believe that harsh criticisms of his tacit support for GOP gay-bashing during the 2004 and 2006 campaigns are fully warrented. I further believe that Mehlman has a lot of ground to cover in order to make up for his past sins.

But the first step in making up that ground comes in his coming out. Ambinder likens it this way:

The disclosure at this stage of Mehlman’s life strikes one close friend as being like a decision to jump off of a high diving board: Mehlman knows that there is plenty of water below, but it is still very scary to look down and make the leap.

I’m no longer religious, but this reminds me of a proverb in Luke, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Any time someone serves as a stumbling block to LGBT equality and dignity changes course, our best response would be to welcome the good news. Unfortunately, we’re not always up for our best responses. Mehlman does have a lot to make up for, but this first step is not insignificant.

And his second step isn’t small potatoes either. He is chairing a fundraiser for Americans for Equal Rights (AFER), the organization behind the lawsuit which has successfully challenged Prop 8 in Federal Court. That fundraiser has already needed $1 million for the effort. According to Andy Towle:

The fundraiser is co-chaired by prominent Republican donors Paul Singer and Peter Thiel and will be held at Singer’s home. A large number of other Republicans are co-hosts of the fundraiser including Mary Cheney, Margaret Hoover, John Podesta, and Steve Schmidt. Dick Gephardt is also among the hosts.

AFER board member and Academy Award winning filmwriter for Milk, Dustin Lance Black, described Mehlman as “an incredible coup for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.”

Mehlman has a lot to make up for. The 2004 and 2006 campaigns that he was directly involved in — and in which he colluded or directed terrible vilificaiton directed toward fellow LGBT people — caused considerable damage to to his fellow Americans, and they will rightly demand accountability. In order to truly heal those wounds, that does need to be his next major step. 

But as we wait for that to come (and we shouldn’t have to wait too long for it) , let me say this: welcome out, Ken Mehlman. And let the rejoicing — and acts of contrition — begin.

Comments

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John in the Bay Area
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Every person who comes out is useful to the overall goal of gay equality.

That having been said, I think that Ken Melman is about Ken Melman. He didn’t come out ealier, because he liked his job. He liked the perks, and recognized that the connections that he made in that position would serve him very well financially in the future.

He didn’t come to understand he was gay recently. He more likely came to understand that he was financially secure enough in a cozy position made possible by his anti-gay efforts for GW Bush to now come out. Whatever.

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

John Podesta isn’t a Republican, he’s the head of the Center for American Progress, an Obama-supporting group.

Anyway, I’m glad that we have Mehlman on your side. The more Republicans and conservatives we have on our side, the more difficult it will be for the Republicans to push anti-gay initiatives.

TampaZeke
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Hear, hear!

Welcome out and start the contrition, post haste!

homer
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

He made millions of dollars working for a political party that will now throw him under the bus. I certainly hope he enjoys his multi-million dollar NYC apartment and his new gay “lifestyle,” which he would never be able to live except for us horrible liberal homosexuals fighting for every scrap of civil rights thrown to us by politicians.

Tone
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

I’m sure it feels as good to him to be out as it did to any of us. If he had any real depth of character he would have come out years ago and not towed the GOP line as long as he did. The tribe needed his talents and he kept them from us and gave them to our enemies instead.

Dale
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Sure, make your millions at the expense of so many others. I cannot type anything more than that.

What a disgusting human being.

Stay with those who hate you, you piece of excrement. You are not welcome here.

Timothy Kincaid
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Contrary to what Dale says, yes all gay people are welcome out. The sooner the better and certainly better today than tomorrow.

The million bucks to fight Prop 8 is most welcome as are your skills and talents. You have a lot to make up for, Ken, I hope you are able to.

Welcome to the right side of the fight.

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

“Sure, make your millions at the expense of so many others.”

Explain how Mehlman’s activities cost anyone else anything. It’s not as if his absence would have caused the Republicans to cease their anti-gay politics. If anything, he helped moderate and soften the Republican Party’s anti-gay position through his contacts (as Ambinder describes).

“What a disgusting human being.

Stay with those who hate you, you piece of excrement. You are not welcome here.”

He definitely is welcome here, and more than welcome. You’re not the doorkeeper – and if you were, we’d probably be down to 7% support.

Emily K
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Homer makes an excellent point. He not only owes a debt to gays, but to “dirty liberal activists”as well.

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

I bet he still doesn’t like “dirty liberal activists”. I don’t either. Is accepting left-wing ideology a requirement, before people are given permission by you to support gay marriage?

Dale
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Yes, welcome him with open arms. The man who

1) Organized christian churches to oppose the GLST community in full force,

2) Went out of his way to encourage republicans on a state level to put anit-gay referenda on state ballots,

3) Encouraged Bush (even to his somewhat dislike) to veto ENDA should it come to his desk

and the list goes on.

No, as has been said about me, I’m not the door keeper, but I have my dearest freind in California whom I’ve known for over 35 years and I saw with my own eyes the pain he suffered after the passage of Prop 8. I can’t imagine how many others suffered from such, not to mention the hate crimes and the beatings AND deaths that still result from Mehlman’s greed and hypocrisy.

You go right ahead.

Welcome him with open arms.

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

We all suffered heartbreak when Prop. 8 passed. And Mehlman had nothing to do with it. The fact that people suffered heartbreak is not a good reason to turn back people who want to do away with Prop. 8, rather, it’s an argument to welcome them with open arms. To turn this man away would not only be foolish and short-sighted, but also grossly immoral.

Furthermore, I have seen no evidence that he was involved in any of the things that you allege he did.

homer
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Junius Brutus, go to Joe.My.God’s blog and look at the examples Joe is posting. In particular, he approved an anti-gay campaign mailer in Arkansas.

TomTallis
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

aeon
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

if you get a chance, follow the link to the AFER fundraiser and google some of the hosts. it’s pretty stunning, almost all of them worked for bush, even sarah palins campaign advisor is listed. these people are actively working for marriage equality. the democrats and obama better wake up before the moment passes them by and they have to play catch up.

tristram
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

For me (as someone who had a long unhappy history myself), any person who comes out and works actively for lgbtq rights should be welcomed. That doesn’t mean we erase the past. I struggle every day to undo the effects of my past words and actions – on a personal level and the larger political level.

Ken Mehlman did a huge amount of harm. He promoted state legislation and constitutional amendments that directly laid the way for Prop. 8. He worked to spread the Bush Admin’s demonization of us in minority communities. But we gain nothing by rejecting and vilifying him. Let’s give him a chance and see if he lives long enough and works hard enough to mitigate the damage he’s done.

Ben M
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Welcome to the rewriting of history so that Mehlman can be our new hero.

“I think the issue was injected when a liberal court in Massachusetts said they were going to redefine a 200 year old institution in this country by judicial fiat,” said Mehlman, who also endorses a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage — political catnip for the Christian Right.”

Ben M
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

13 Stats passed marriage bans in 2004, most of them pushed as “get out the vote” for the GOP. In 2006 (an election in which Mehlman campaigned for the state amendments) 9 states had amendments on the ballot, 8 of which passed. Until Mehlman helps actively undo 21 state amendments, he’s no friend of mine.

Few people in the US have wielded as much influence in the GOP as this man did during the height of GOP gay-baiting.

David C.
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

This is a useful defector. We should exploit this opportunity to undo as much as possible what we perceive to be Ken’s damage and do so with his help if it is available.

Tommy
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Mehlman is a traitor and should be treated as such. He is only coming out now because it is politically convenient for him, he has nothing to lose.

Until we see actual penance in the form of actual sacrifice from him, he should be reviled. And by sacrifice I do not mean a tiny fraction of the millions he made exploiting us.

MIhangel apYrs
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

as TomTallis said, “lie down with dogs….”

however, we don’t have to love or even like him (enough to lie down with), use him, make him work his way into acceptance. He’s a traitor to us, and now to his erstwhile allies, he only has us left, so wring him dry. He may eventually prove to be a salvaged human being, but he needs to earn it.

And for love: well some boys can be rented, but not bought.

Thomas
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Not sure if Mr Kincaid will allow this post; however, Mr. Melhman is still contributing to Republican antigay politicians. This includes John McCain and Dan Quayle’s son. The damage this man has done continues. Do the research.

Stephen
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

This is merely the beginnings of a push to split the gay vote. They must reckon that we’re upset enough with Obama that we’d actually vote for Palin – or whatever other clown they come up with. Nothing they do is spontaneous. Particularly not the actions of an apparatchik like Mehlman.

Richard Rush
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

While I share the feelings of disgust about Mehlman’s past, the fact is that we all benefit by him finally coming out. Ironically, his past may make the benefit much greater than it would have been otherwise.

We need to move forward by staying focused on our own best interests, and part of doing that means we need to make it easier, not harder, for prominent conservatives to come out. In terms of how it resonates in the culture, I’d say that Mehlman’s coming out is a twofer (or threefer or fourfer) compared to a prominent liberal coming out.

RWG
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Sorry..I’m not in a forgiving mood when it comes this cretin. His move is fetid opportunism, nothing more. He sees we’re going to win this battle for our civil rights, and he want s to jump on a winning horse. He has blood on his hands, and on his money. He’s still supporting anti-gay republicans with donations to their campaigns. He’s no different than Rekers. We don’t want him. He always made me want to wretch every time I saw him on tv promoting hate for political gain; he still makes me sick.

a mcewen
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

@ rgw – it’s not up 2 us to want mehlman. If he has a conscience then I am sure it’s doing him more damage than any of us

Priya Lynn
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

I can appreciate that RWG and others aren’t in a forgiving mood for Mehlman, but if we attack people who come out of the closet and come to our side for their past that will only discourage people currently in the closet and working against our interests to continue on as they have been instead of renouncing and stoping their attacks on the LGBT community.

Désirée
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

I would also caution against refusing to accept him because he supports “anti-gay” politicians. Most non-extremists are more than one issue people. He may be supporting a particular politician because of that person’s economic, military or foreign policy stance and he may consider those of a higher priority than the person’s stand on gay issues. If he still supports specific laws, policies or organizations who focus is directly against equality for gays, sure, chastize him; but support a politician you don’t like? Not enough. Sorry.

justsearching
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

He needs to stand outside barefoot in the snow for several days before he’s un-excommunicated from the Church of Gay.

TampaZeke
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, by the same token, if we don’t make people pay for declaring war on the gay community then it tells those in the closet attacking the gay community that it’s not a big deal. A simple, “I’M GAY” and ALL will be forgiven without consequence.

VapoRob
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Should I really be shocked or surprised about this one? Wow I don’t understand why so many of our fellow readers are flocking to the support of this guy. Larry Craif, Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, Bob Allen, & George Rekkers didn’t get this kind of support. Sure all of those guys voted for issues that were forced upon us, but Mehlman helped create and push those issues that were forced upon us back in 2004 & 2006.

Sure he had nothing to do with prop 8, however he did have something to do with the other 31 states that passed hateful legislation on us.

So now that he is out he wants to be a spokesman for us, isn’t that what Lady GaGa is for? I better not see him as the Grand Marshal at any pride parades in the upcoming years, I will literally puke.

“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…..”

Really that’s funny, I can’t see most of your former colleagues being happy and supportive of you, I’m not sure if your aware of this but they hate gays, especially if they are gay and are in the closet. And your a happier person now, well Ken, I’m glad that the misery that you help brought upon us has made you a better person. Will you be speaking with Ann Coulter at GOProud?

Please stay on the Log Cabins side, fight for marriage equality and smaller government.

Scooter J
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Brutus, do you have a man-crush on Mehlman? There is no evidence to prove that Goerring or Goebbels themselves acutally killed anyone. . . I guess this fact minimizes their culpability for Nazi atrocities???

No, they were in leadership positions behind a political/social movement that caused the Holocaust. While I do not suggest that this issue is remotely similar in magnitude, Mehlman was, nonetheless, in an active leadership position that worked to crush gay political activism and equal rights.

The harm is done, so we all do need to move on, but for all of those in our community who want to, so quickly, dismiss Mehlman’s past record in favor of unproven future gain. . . this man is, in small part, responsible for the public response that denied and continues to deny me the right to marry my 18+ year partner in the State of California.

Thanks Mehlman, next time you are at one of McCain’s fundraising dinners perhaps you can pass my comments on to him?

Priya Lynn
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Tampazeke, you can make them pay if you want, but that’ll encourage those still in the closet and attacking us to remain there and will encourage those like Mehlman to see we’re his enemy no matter what and to resume his attacks on us in self-defense.

If you wanted Mehlman to pay for his attacks the time to do it was when he was making those attacks (where were you then?) not now that he’s stopped and come to our side. Why would anyone choose to continue to support us if we attack them to “make them pay”?

Priya Lynn
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Vaporob said “Larry Craif, Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, Bob Allen, & George Rekkers didn’t get this kind of support.”.

And none of them renounced their previous actions and vowed to work for marriage equality, they all continued their attacks on the gay community. But hey, if you’re hellbent on shooting yourself and the gay community in the foot, why let me stop you?

Priya Lynn
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Scooter said “There is no evidence to prove that Goerring or Goebbels themselves acutally killed anyone. . . I guess this fact minimizes their culpability for Nazi atrocities??? No, they were in leadership positions behind a political/social movement that caused the Holocaust.”.

And once again, they never renounced their activities and vowed to work on the side of justice so that’s a false analogy.

Timothy Kincaid
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

As I see it, we have two responses. We can either choose to win or we can choose to hate.

Choosing to win means that we celebrate positive change, that we see each person who move towards equality as a step in the right direction. It doesn’t mean that we forget their past or even pardon it; but it does mean that we look to the future and let each person work to seek redemption.

Choosing to hate means that we never forgive, never welcome, never let anyone change. Once our enemy, always our enemy. Of course that means that we never ever get any more friends or allies than we have today. It means failure.

Ah, but hating feels so good, so very good. Yet still, I choose winning.

Scooter J
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Priya:

I really appreciate your posts and appreciate your thoughtful challenges, but can you help me understand why post contrition is relevant? The deed is done. Does the molesting priest who has a later-in-life epiphany have any less culpability for his crimes? Even so, we tend not to want him in the pulpit, don’t we?

I am not a Mehlman hater by any stretch of the imagination, I am just very cool on the concept of making him our community’s newest hero. The post above imagining him as the Grand Marshall of a Pride Parade perfectly describes my feelings.

Have a great day.

Priya Lynn
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Scooter, what Mehlman did wasn’t a crime, he isn’t going to jail and going to be put out of action. The past is past, there’s no changing it. Today you have a choice, you can punish Mehlman for where he was and encourage him to go back to attacking us, or you can accept his repentance and keep him working on our side to help us.

You say you’re not a Mehlman hater by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Paul in Canada
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

I agree Scooter J.

Priya Lynn
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Another gay blinded by hate to his own self-interest.

Scooter J
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

No more friends? No more allies? There is an entire generation of new friends and allies who are striving to undo the work of our past leaders. We will owe some of our greatest gratitude to this young, Glee-loving geneation for moving us towards the equality we seek, not the “johnny-come-lately” political opportunists.

Yes, there is absolutely a place at the table for the Mehlmans of this world, but for our community to give this guy a blank pass is absurd.

Scooter J
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, you are mincing words and your provocation diminishes your sound arguments. I am stating my opinions and not demanding that my thoughts are correct.

There is a third option for what I can do. . . I can sit back with a “wait and see” attitude towards Mehlman and let history prove me either wrong or right,
At the same time, I can continue to fully support those who are, have been and will continue to be on our side. . .

Ray
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

I pretty much got my licks in yesterday so today I’m thinking that if Mehlman is going to redeem himself, he needs to heat up his Rolodex.

Priya Lynn
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Scooter I just told it like it is, no provocation or mincing.

Scooter said “There is a third option for what I can do. . . I can sit back with a “wait and see” attitude towards Mehlman and let history prove me either wrong or right,”.

That’s an ethical and reasonable alternative.

Guffey
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

My opinion…

Mehlman is the low road. Where I was once happy that our side *mostly* did not resort to manipulation and lies like NOM (Being gay cuts 20 years off your life!, soon men will marry their dogs! (box turtles?)) I now feel that any “win” by AFER is tainted. AFER’s now going to accept millions from opportunists who join the marriage bandwagon as popular tide turns but still fight like crazy against transgenders, ENDA, women’s rights etc… (Yes I know some LGB also fight against these things but *I* personally don’t see it as the same level). And I will likely get something *I* want (marriage) on the backs of T’s and others being hurt for my gain.

Money is money is money?

Jason D
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

why do we always get into these false dichotomies??

Scooter J. I read the whole thread and nobody saying “congrats on coming out” has also said
“You’re our new hero”
or
“all is forgiven”
or
“your slate is clean”

What I do see, with every “congratulations” is “your work is only begining”

What’s unfair about that?

Why do you need to invent this false dichotomy? So because we’re not hating on him and we’re happy he’s Come Out we automatically all forgive him, want to marry him and make him the new King of Gay? I have a hard time believing you function in your daily life that way. Everyone’s either clean as a whistle or dirty as a pig to you?

I am willing to entertain the thought of forgiving him. However it is not a done deal, and there is much he must do. Forgiveness, the real kind, is earned. It is a process. The first step is admitting to wrong doing and willing to work to make things right.

L. Junius Brutus
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Scooter J: “Brutus, do you have a man-crush on Mehlman?”

It says a lot about you if you think that having a man-crush on him is the only reason one would defend him.

“There is no evidence to prove that Goerring or Goebbels themselves acutally killed anyone. . . I guess this fact minimizes their culpability for Nazi atrocities??? ”

Goering and Goebbels both advocated for “final solution”. There’s no reason to suspect that Mehlman advocated for the party to take anti-gay positions. And if he did, then he is indeed culpable for them.

“Mehlman was, nonetheless, in an active leadership position that worked to crush gay political activism and equal rights.”

No, I think his main concern was winning votes, not “crush[ing] gay political activism”.

“The harm is done, so we all do need to move on, but for all of those in our community who want to, so quickly, dismiss Mehlman’s past record in favor of unproven future gain. . .”

As opposed to your plan, which is:

Step 1: Excommunicate and shun Mehlman.
Step 2: ??????
Step 3: PROFIT!

DougT
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kinkaid:
As I see it, we have two responses. We can either choose to win or we can choose to hate.

I think this is very much a false dichotomy. I’m sure that hate is an accurate word for what some folks are feeling, but it doesn’t really describe everybody who is not yet ready to forgive. What I do see is a lot of rather vigorous anger that has not yet cooled. And, really, hasn’t Mehlman earned a bit of that? Here is somebody that has done enormous damage to gay folk and made his millions in the process. Now that he is safely out of professional politics (and far less influential as a result), he comes forward hat in hand asking for forgiveness. I’m not there. Perhaps I can be convinced that this is more than just self-serving bs- but it will take a lot more evidence than what he has presented so far.

L. Junius Brutus
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Ted Olson is a bad guy too. After all, he took a job from… the Evil One. And he hasn’t suddenly become a one-issue person, he generally supports conservatives, even if they are against gay marriage.

Seriously, I think that if former president Bush were to express his support for gay marriage, the gay community would not be happy or glad, rather, we would see a barrage of insults directed at him. “GO TO HELL FOR NOT COMING TO THAT OPINION AT A MOMENT MORE TO MY LIKING!” No good deed seems to go unpunished.

Timothy Kincaid
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

DougT

As I said, “It doesn’t mean that we forget their past or even pardon it…” We just need to put our goals above our anger, no matter how well deserved.

If Maggie Gallagher decides to join our camp, it would be a long long time before I forgave her for the damage she’s done, but I’d still welcome the change.

Paul in Canada
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

There is a difference between forgiveness and trust.

We should all forgive, but trust is earned, and Mehlman has a lot of work to do before anyone should be trusting him to speak, lead or be seen as anything other than who he has presented himself to be thus far.

As is true for all of us, the future holds great promise for renewal and change.

Scooter J
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Joking Brutus, joking. . . and I don’t have a plan, just an opinion that differs from yours.

Everyone certainly is not clean as a whistle or dirty as a pig Jason, but a pig is, nonetheless, a pig.

I have to resist writing on this blog. In an attempt to chime in on a subject, I am reminded by you all, over and over, how stupid and unqualified I am to have an opinion.

It is a beautiful day here in So Cal, I am hosting margaritas this evening for anyone who wants to have a face-to-face chat about this. I suspect in person most of you people are cool, kind and not aggressive.

Cheers

Tommy
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Oh, Brutus, Brutus, Brutus…

Seriously, I think that if former president Bush were to express his support for gay marriage, the gay community would not be happy or glad, rather, we would see a barrage of insults directed at him. “GO TO HELL FOR NOT COMING TO THAT OPINION AT A MOMENT MORE TO MY LIKING!”

No Brutus, as always it would be “GO TO HELL FOR NOT COMING TO THAT OPINION WHEN YOU COULD HAVE ACTUALLY DONE SOMETHING TO SUPPORT IT!” and “YOU LYING [explicative deleted] FOR USING OUR RIGHTS TO DRUM UP VOTES FOR YOUR FAILED POLICIES, AND THEN HAVE THE AUDACITY TO COME TO US WHEN YOUR COW RAN DRY CLAIMING A FAKE CHANGE OF HEART!”

That’s what the reaction would be. Much like it is now.

Tommy
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

This is the most important line in the article.

Mehlman said at the time that he could not, as an individual Republican, go against the party consensus.

This is the abject treason, the crime of conscience. “I was just following orders” has never, nor should it be, justification or defense.

Yes, he absolutely could have gone against party consensus. It would have required sacrifice, but so does every single act of conscience. He was in a position of power and he acted cravenly.

Why should we treat him as anything other than a parasite now? He’s already proven he is guided by political expediency, not conscience. He’s inherently not trustworthy.

Jason D
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

“scooter J said:
I have to resist writing on this blog. In an attempt to chime in on a subject, I am reminded by you all, over and over, how stupid and unqualified I am to have an opinion.”

If you expect to not be called on faulty reasoning or flawed argumentation, yes, it would be a good idea to resist posting to this blog and pretty much any other open forum.

and to clarify, unless I missed it, nobody called you stupid or unqualified to have an opinion.

Ben in Oakland
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

So we agree. He puts the “meh” back into mehlman.

So now let’s see what he does.

Conservative stalwarts are coming out for gay people– or just coming out– the way countries are passing marriage laws.

It will take a while. I am for taking every bit that we can get, as long as we’re not selling our souls.

Everett
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Well, I guess I should say “welcome to the club, Ken!” But honestly, anyone who was so dense to blindly follow his political ambitions rather than stop and reflect on who he really was, doesn’t make me feel very sympathetic. So many gay and lesbian people cannot deny who they really are for 43 years while they build their dream careers. Instead many gays and lesbians sacrifice their dream careers in order to be true to themselves….

I hope he really is going to help fight for marriage equality. He might be able to get his Republican friends to at least be more thoughtful about gay civil rights. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Tommy
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn

you can make them pay if you want

I believe you are missing the point, or rather focusing on the wrong point. We shouldn’t have to “make them pay.” They should be “mak[ing] them pay.” That’s sort of the whole point of revelations, changes of heart, or personal transformation. Mehlman should be seeking penance now, and all the uncomfortable sacrifice that comes with such penance. But he isn’t. In that article he said he regretted a few things, but he never apologized, he never sought forgiveness. He merely offered justifications.

Instead of sacrifice, he just got a new job. That says to me “opportunistic vampire” rather than “remorseful penitent.”

If someone stabs you in the front, you should not turn around and allow them to stab you in the back.

Timothy Kincaid
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

I have to say, had someone asked me last week which of two Harvard classmates – Mehlman or Obama – would be the first to support marriage equality, I would have guessed wrong.

Politics is a funny animal

occono
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Well, strictly speaking, Obama was the first (as he said so in that “Washington Blade” article, IIRC, somebody correct me on that….), he just doesn’t currently.

Timothy Kincaid
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

True. I forgot for a moment that he did support marriage equality before he didn’t.

Scooter J
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Jason D:

Are you kidding me? What are your qualifications, besides being a cyber-bully, to call out flawed reasoning and faulty argumentation? These are my OPINIONS dude and ones that many of my friends and some on this website share.

No one has the right answer here because we all come to these sorts of issues from different perspectives. I read this website, (and sometimes even participate), to expand my thinking and to consider other points of views.

Ahhh, forget it, you are right, you are one of those people who are always right. You have some sort of high degree or special life experience that reminds you that you are always right.

What a bore.

Ben M
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

I’m glad everyone is about forgiveness and such, but this is a man who continues, to this day, to give money to likes of likes Roy Blunt, John McCain, Ben Quayle, Mark Kirk, and Robert Bennett.

He basically support the exact same candidates he support in 2004 and 2006. Apparently we are expected and encouraged to chastise Target for giving to an anti-gay politician (even those Target has a fairly pro-gay set of policies), but we must embrace Mehlman, because he support marriage equality, even as he gives his money to politicians who would happily put the FMA in the Constitution. Sorry, not buying it.

Big Gay Sam
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

he is still supporting political candidates that advocate discrimination and bigotry against the LGBT community. He even said he REGRETS NOTHING.

How many human lives are on his soul? How much misery and pain has he caused over the years?

And he REGRETS NOTHING.

He is still a Judas goat and will always be a Judas goat. May he get in full measure what he has doled out to the rest of us. How can you forgive someone that feels he has done nothing wrong.

May he fade away into oblivion.

Ben in Oakland
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

So let’s hope every boyfriend he has is both a drama queen and a lousy lay.

That will fix him.

Big Gay Sam
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Oh please. He already is the lousy lay drama queen.

Priya Lynn
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Tommy quoted me saying “you can make them pay if you want…” and then said
“I believe you are missing the point, or rather focusing on the wrong point.”.

No, you’re missing the point. Tampazeke said he wanted to make people like Mehlman pay. I was addressing what he said.

ZRAinSWVA
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Big Gay Sam wrote, “Oh please. He already is the lousy lay drama queen.”

Hah! Good one!

The narrative of ‘I did all these awful things to the LGBTQ community (and myself) because I wasn’t comfortable with myself being gay’ narrative is important. We should capitalize on it. It demonstrates the terrible power societal pressure holds over those in our minority position.

So far as I’m concerned–and as has been said many times on this blog by others–come out, come out wherever you are!

MirrorMan
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

I believe the appropriate terms here are ‘contrition’ and ‘atonement’. So far, Ken does not appear at all contrite about his previous actions. And one fundraiser hardly qualifies as atonement. He has had his whole life to think about his actions and almost a decade to view the results. Coming out of the closet does not an absolution make. He has enough important friends and money that unemployment will never be a worry for him, and he can buy or rent his happiness, unlike the vast majority of us. So, Ken, welcome to the other side of the closet. The air isn’t so stifling anymore, is it? Oh, by the way, now that you are here? Get to work! And until you have convinced me personally that you have actually changed, are actually sorry, and are actually working towards undoing all those heinous things you have done to the least of us, stay the hell away from me. I welcome you, but forgiveness? You are going to have to earn that. Not just to me, but to the hundreds of thousands, if not more, that you have harmed. And yeah, it’s a lot of atonement. I suggest you get started.

Jason D
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Jason D:

Are you kidding me? What are your qualifications, besides being a cyber-bully,to call out flawed reasoning and faulty argumentation? These are my OPINIONS dude and ones that many of my friends and some on this website share.

(A)Criticism is not bullying. I have called you no names, nor made fun of you.

Again, if you cannot handle criticism, best not to open yourself up to it by posting.

(B)You are entitled to your opinions, as am I. That is the only “qualification” anyone needs here.

You seem to be arguing that you, and only you, are entitled to an opinion and that anyone who disagrees with you is a bully.

No one has the right answer here because we all come to these sorts of issues from different perspectives.

No one has claimed otherwise, including me.

I read this website, (and sometimes even participate), to expand my thinking and to consider other points of views.

unless someone criticizes you. Then they are a bully. They don’t have to call you names, or make fun of you, they just have to be critical of your opinions and or reasoning.

Ahhh, forget it, you are right, you are one of those people who are always right. You have some sort of high degree or special life experience that reminds you that you are always right.

..and because you can’t handle criticism, or defend your opinions, you resort to ad hominem attacks.

Who again is the bully?

Priya Lynn
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Scooter said “No one has the right answer here because we all come to these sorts of issues from different perspectives.”.

That’s a non-sequitor. Just because we have different perspectives doesn’t necessarily mean no one has the right answer.

CPT_Doom
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

This information simply puts Mehlman in the same league as Mary Cheney – organizers of vicious anti-gay hate political campaigns based on lies and propaganda. That both Cheney and Mehlman knew that the campaigns were based on false information simply makes their moral crimes even worse.

Both of these individuals may be out, but while they continue to defend their actions and support anti-gay politicians and policies with their cash, they are not friends of the community. Now, that does not mean I begrudge AFER any of the money that Mehlman can raise – I say take whatever you can get from a slimeball like Kenny-boy, but don’t trust him one bit.

After all, the man is lying even now. The reason he was outed years ago, again and again, was not because he was a sexless closet case, as some of his allies are trying to claim. The man had a partner back in 2006 and was known to socialize with other GOP gays and lesbians here in DC. So this idea he just came to terms with his sexuality is bullcrap. And to argue that the head of a campaign and the head of a party can’t have any influence on whether to launch scapegoating political attacks is simply ludicrous.

As others have pointed out, it is politically expedient for Mehlman to come out now, but he has not demonstrated one iota of contrition or sense that he has changed. It is still all about him and what he can get, and unless there is a HUGE amount of effort on his part, including the necessary begging and grovelling for forgiveness from the LGBT community, I will continue to distrust him.

For the perfect contrast, check out Roy Ashburn in California – a conservative politician who has realized, after being outed, the damage he has done. I have way more respect for Ashburn than Mehlman.

Timothy Kincaid
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

I too was considering how Ashburn has slowly and gradually earned the commuity’s respect. But I do recall the same comments being made by many folk here about Ashburn at the time.

Perhaps in a year or so Mehlman will also earn your respect. We can certainly hope so.

Mihangel apYrs
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

I suppose the most positive thing one can say about his integrity is that he didn’t marry, unlike too many politicians, especially on the Right (we’ve just had one come out in the UK, had a wife and son: not really on in this day and age!)

L. Junius Brutus
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Ashburn defended his conduct, and continued to defend his anti-gay positions, until he was reformed. And I might be mistaken, but wasn’t he married? He was rightfully criticized for both those things. Mehlman hasn’t done that, which is why I embrace him fully.

Tommy: “No Brutus, as always it would be “GO TO HELL FOR NOT COMING TO THAT OPINION WHEN YOU COULD HAVE ACTUALLY DONE SOMETHING TO SUPPORT IT!” and “YOU LYING [explicative deleted] FOR USING OUR RIGHTS TO DRUM UP VOTES FOR YOUR FAILED POLICIES, AND THEN HAVE THE AUDACITY TO COME TO US WHEN YOUR COW RAN DRY CLAIMING A FAKE CHANGE OF HEART!””

Yeah. In other words, you are never happy or content, no matter what someone does. I for one would be happy if Bush expressed his support for gay marriage. I don’t think we should criticize him for doing something right, regardless of his past actions. I realize that I’m not owed anything by people.

But I’m impressed that you can divine whether a hypothetical change of heart is “fake”.

Jimmy Mac
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

This self-serving action was a day late and a dollar short. What is he going to do to atone for the damage against the LGBT communities that he fomented while protecting his own butt?

Ben M
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Brutus said “Mehlman hasn’t done that, which is why I embrace him fully.”

Um… he hasn’t apologized for it, and continues to active support anti-gay candidates. Maybe in his mind supporting these candidates is balanced out by supporting marriage equality, but all his fund-raising would be for naught if he got his candidates elected and they passed the FMA.

David Wood
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Mehlman is just Karl Rove’s gay-boy. He can now help split the gay vote against President Obama, just like it’s happening elsewhere as republicans find public opinion has changed. More of the insidious way they will try to win at any cost.

L. Junius Brutus
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Ben M: “Um… he hasn’t apologized for it, and continues to active support anti-gay candidates. Maybe in his mind supporting these candidates is balanced out by supporting marriage equality, but all his fund-raising would be for naught if he got his candidates elected and they passed the FMA.”

This is true. But do you think that he has an obligation to become a one-issue person? It may be easy for left-wingers to always support the person who is most liberal on gay issues, but this is difficult for people who are more conservative.

Other Fred in the UK
August 28th, 2010 | LINK

My tuppence worth …..

There a reason why politics is full of opportunists, opportunism is a very successful strategy. Very few who stick rigidly to all the principles they hold are successful in politics. Compromise and supping with the devil, albeit with a long spoon, are useful skills.

If American Lesbians and Gays want equal rights sooner rather than later I suggest that you make the most of opportunities such as Mehlmam. Other the other hand you are free to put your principles before your rights.

Rob in San Diego
August 28th, 2010 | LINK

I agree with you Junius, he needs to not support candidates that fight against our causes.

Jacob
August 31st, 2010 | LINK

It is like republicans fall out of the closet sometimes. Plus people already have pretty well thought out assumptions based on behaviors in the first place.

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