Former Bush campaign chairman Ken Mehlman has finally admitted in public that he is homosexual. It is a significant move because Mehlman is the most high profile Republican to come clean in history. From the Atlantic:
“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.”
While Mehlman should be commended for coming out given his seniority in the party, he must weigh on his conscience that he helped elect possibly the most un-gay friendly administration in recent history. The Bush administration used gay marriage as a wedge issue to drive out the anti gay vote in a very close battle with John Kerry in 2004, positioning itself as militantly opposed to gay marriage and calling for a federal amendment to stop it from happening. Had Mehlman used his considerable power to stop the virulently homophobic platform, the debate over gay marriage may not have been so bitterly divisive.
Hopefully Mehlman can use his influence to further the cause, but he has a lot of ground to make up.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.