Ken Mehlman Is No Jackie Robinson

Marc Ambinder reports that Ken Mehlman has admitted to friends and family that he is gay (did anyone really not know?):

"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."

...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.

Note to Mehlman: when you are a powerful public figure, preventing bigotry is not about your comfort level. He could have spoken out, he should have spoken out.

Mehlman decided that political power and his own personal position was more important than preventing politically-motivated bigotry.

Shame on him. This isn't courage; it's the exact opposite. Yet, given the way things work, his star will rise as a commentator.

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I agree that it's not enough and that he should have come forward sooner, but I'm not going to boo and hiss or tell him to shut up and sit down. If Ken Mehlman wants to come out now and be public about his sexual orientation thatâs a good thing. Anything that helps tear down the walls of distrust, bigotry, and hate is helpful. Do I think Ken is a hero? No. Do I think we need Ken to come forward, hell yes. Every closeted Log Cabin Republican that comes out into the light of day drives back the darkness, reduces the suffering, and destroys the hate and lies that Karl Rove and his sociopathic right wing revival need to stay in power.

By SIlent Service (not verified) on 26 Aug 2010 #permalink

Who cares if he's gay?

Shame on him - as in deep, soul-searing, shit-stinking, lifetime ignominy - for promoting the Republican Agendaâ!

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 26 Aug 2010 #permalink

{{Marc Ambinder reports that Ken Mehlman has admitted to friends and family that he is gay (did anyone really not know?)}}

Uh me? =P. And I thought I had good gaydar.

{{Who cares if he's gay?

Shame on him - as in deep, soul-searing, shit-stinking, lifetime ignominy - for promoting the Republican Agendaâ!}}

DITTO, it's just ploy by rightwing extremists to coopt the lingering minority population like the black Repugs and the wuvable 1st gen immigrant Repugs running for office or blogging as reasonable/rational scientists (ie Gene Expression) to pull the non-bigoted liberal heartstrings, afraid to confront them. "Oh they worked so hard to live and find a better place here in America" Yeah to bolster the conservative agenda that only wants them as well spoken tokens. Not saying some self-denialist prejudiced Dems don't do the same with their minority constituents.

I too am conflicted about this. I appreciate the difficult decision he had to make. I know people personally who have had to do it. But at the same time, he was the instigator (by his silence and lack of opposition) of some truly horrible and vile policies. The way Karl Rove used the fear of a gay uprising to arrange so many anti-SSM amendments in 2006, while Mehlman sat back and watched, is almost unforgivable. But I like to think I can forgive. So I'll try.

A commenter called "Dave in CA" at the excellent Prop 8 Trial Tracker site posted the following to their story about Mehlman. It is basically how I feel about it, and there was some subsequent discussion in the comments about getting these sentiments out to a wider audience, so I feel OK in pasting his comment here verbatim:

Okay, I am willing to accept that this can be a tremendous coup for the marriage equality folks. But like others have said, I want to see him commit to the three Rs of Repentance:


1) Publicly give voice to his Regret for using the LGBT community as a political wedge issue during previous political campaigns. Show publicly and repeatedly what the closet does to us, using himself as an example.

2) Take Responsibility â whether direct or indirect â for the harm he has caused. Whether he actively took part in it or not, he was *there* when Rove used the election cycles to write anti-gay marriage law into many of the statesâ constitutions. In this case, his (public) silence was consent. He needs to own his part in it â a lame excuse that he privately âtried to push backâ does not fly .

3) And finally, Repair that damage. I want to see him go state by state, into each of those that enacted anti-LGBT laws during the Bush/Rove years, and actively work to undo those same laws. Put his money and mouth and connections to work and fix it. Renounce and denounce NOM, Focus on the Family, and their kind. Work those Republicans in those states. Let his views be known to Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

This goes beyond raising merely raising $750K at a private fundraiser. Public, clear, visible Repair out among the Republicans.

I am glad to see this turn of events today. But when I see him doing all those things, I will buy into and believe his personal change of heart.

It's comment #72 on this post.