August 25th, 2010
06:47 PM ET
4 years ago

Former Bush official says he is gay

Former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman has told The Atlantic he is gay.
Former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman has told The Atlantic he is gay.

(CNN) – Former chairman of the Republican National Committee and 2004 campaign manager for President Bush's re-election, Ken Mehlman, has told The Atlantic magazine he is gay.

The article published Wednesday by The Atlantic's politics editor Marc Ambinder quotes Mehlman extensively on his experience coming out to friends and family.

"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 article quotes Mehlman as saying.

Mehlman goes on to tell Ambinder that now that he is in private life wants to be an advocate for gay marriage. He said he realized his timing – waiting until he was outside the inner power circles of the Republican Party – may have hurt the very issues he now hopes to address.

"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," Mehlman told the publication.

Mehlman's announcement is being welcomed in the gay community.

"Poll after poll shows the most powerful thing we can do to change hearts and minds about gay issues is to come out. I applaud Ken for having the courage to take this important step. I think everyone should remember that each of us has our own personal journey as it relates to coming to terms with our own sexuality and coming out," conservative gay organization GOProud's Christopher Barron told CNN.

- CNN's Evan Glass contributed to this report


Filed under: Ken Mehlman
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. D.

    So what, president Bush was highly inclusive in his aides and cabinet, in spite of the constant beating on him from li(e)-berals!

    August 25, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  2. Bill

    So, what's your point?

    August 25, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. Mike

    As a closeted gay myself – I sympathize with Ken Mehlman's tough journey and salute his courage... This article and Mehlman's story have driven me much closer to telling my family and friends the truth – thanks!

    August 25, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  4. LW in AZ

    It's sad that it had to take this long. This should be a non-issue today, but he knew what he was up against, unfortunately. Will there ever be a day when people will accept others for who they are? Sigh.....

    August 25, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  5. Marie MD

    My goodness. This is news? Why?
    darth vader's daughter is also gay. He of the family values and anti gay party of NO. Of course, it IS a big deal for rethugs and they simply forget that his daughter is a lesbian.
    Who cares!!!???

    August 25, 2010 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  6. Brad

    So what do you call someone with loyalty to a party who has all but made it their mission to eliminate you from their constituency.

    August 25, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. Nikki

    What. A. Surprise.

    August 25, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  8. Corey b

    better late than never ,be true to yourself .

    August 25, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  9. picturethisifyouwill

    Another gay republican. It never gets old.

    August 25, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  10. Will

    They really need to review these headlines – at quick glance it read like one of Bush's staffers were putting it out there that Bush himself was gay

    August 25, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Worked for Bush, hid his identity, and now he wants President Obama to fix it because he knew the Repugs would have kicked him to the curve. These are your children America whether you're Repug or Democrat.

    August 25, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  12. Evil Hollywood Liberal

    wow...thanks for connecting the dots there, Ken. We NEVER suspected/expected this. Too bad you, like most members of the Bush administration, lacked the fortitude to speak up and do the right thing on a variety of fronts when it would've made a difference. Thanks for all the years of aiding and abetting a party that demonized gays and lesbians........shame on you.

    August 25, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  13. Paul nyc

    Good on him.

    August 25, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  14. John Lamb

    How very brave; to come out now that he no longer chairs a party with a homophobic platform, instead of when it may have down some good. A real profile in courage.

    August 25, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  15. Russ in Benton Ar

    the horror! the horror!-- we must remember that "dubya' was a cheerleader. My My

    August 25, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  16. Christopher Robbins

    I am sorry that Mr. Mehlman lacked the courage to do this earlier, but I am very happy that he has decided to be honest with himself. To most of us who follow politics and know the GOP inner circle, this is no surprise.

    Just think if he had come out while chairman of the GOP – he could have advanced gay rights issues by leaps and bounds. Let us hope he does not look back and instead tries to be a voice for equality and justice among other Republicans and conservatives in the USA.

    August 25, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  17. DP in Palm Springs

    Would have been a whole lot better if he'd come out when he could have done the most for the gay community. Instead, as the 2004 Bush Campaign manager he helped shape Bush's anti-gay wedge issues for the election. As RNC head he could have been instrumental in offering an alternative point of view at how damaging the Defense of Marriage Act has been for the gay community and how very damaging Dont Ask Don't Tell is. Instead he waits until he's completely outside the Rebulican hallowed chambers. If he'd have come out earlier, he would have experienced first hand what the majority of us experience every day because of these and other very damaging perspective about gay people.

    Gee, thanks Mehlman. Now, lets see if you can make it right with your work on Gay Marriage.

    August 25, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  18. bettyboop33

    Coming out must be a very difficult thing for anyone. What I dont understand is, not being true to yourself. You cant hide from yourself. Surely, HE knew the truth about himself. Why serve a party that is homophobic? That's right, I said it. The GOP bible thumpers have gone out of their way to sabotage EQUAL rights for the Gay community since the beginning of time. I frankly cant understand why anyone in the Gay community would want to ever serve & support such a political party. I am not gay, & even I refuse to serve or support the GOP. The Party of NO, Party of obstruction, Party of see nothing, know nothing & most of all DO nothing.

    August 25, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  19. Kim

    This Democratic, liberal, straight woman wishes Mr. Mehlman the best as he pursues his new private life. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for him to be a closeted gay man while advocating for the anti-gay, anti gay marriage Republican agenda. I wonder if all the homophobic Republicans who embraced him so happily will now turn against him.

    August 25, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  20. Jeff in Houston

    Oh my my my. Right here in River City! For all we know, there may be gay doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, and brave men and women in our armed forces! In your city! On your street! There could be one in YOUR family!

    WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO??????

    Grow up and act like civilized, educated human beings. They are no different than anyone else. In fact, I find the politics of our gay and lesbian friends to be rather conservative beyond wanting to be treated like full American citizens. If the Republicans took a moment from being so bigoted, they would see a voter block ripe for the picking. But you would have to leave fantasy land to gain their trust.

    August 25, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  21. jim atmadison

    Is there anybody that didn't know that Ken Mehlman was gay?

    He's been at the top of a very long list for a long time.

    Let me know when they find a top male GOPer who's straight. That would be news.

    August 25, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  22. Julie C

    Yes, just like the whole issue with stem cell research. So many people get on their idealogue bandwagon and oppose the very things that can help them. If their own child or loved one could benefit from stem cell research, then they change their minds which makes it too late for others. Wish more people could see beyond their own narrow views. I applaud this guy for being honest, at least now.

    August 25, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  23. LMD

    Oh my!!! what a scandal...(not) but let's see how fast this becomes the basis of political name calling and mudslinging

    August 25, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. Kim J.

    It is a shame that his political party would have pilloried him for coming out sooner. I guess that's the price you pay for belonging to a party that is on the wrong side of history in most social issues.

    August 25, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  25. GunnerGA

    There were plenty of Republicans we politicos who worked there knew were gay or bisexual. Perhaps this will give a certain former Republican Pentagon spokesman and current NBC reporter (not to mention a neighbor in my building) the opportunity to explain how he could speak in support for anti-gay policies while being gay himself. Of course, sadly the late Jack Kemp will never be able to come out.

    August 25, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
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