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. Dana Matthews

    Just another example of a hypocritical republican sleeping with the enemy, and then wants all the freedoms the democrats have fought and bled for!!
    While I congratulate anyone "coming out of the closet"
    Its pretty disgusting to have someone fighting against everything gay people believe in! Typical Republican BS!

    August 25, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  2. Brett P.

    While frustrated he waited until well after he was no longer relevant within the GOP to come out, I'm glad he is now able to profess who he truly is. I welcome him, and other gay conservatives that feel the same way, in fighting for marriage equality for all Americans.

    August 25, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  3. they call me "tater salad"

    Former RNC chairman about being gay;....... "The process of not being able to say who I am in public life was very difficult." "Anyone who watched me knew I was a guy who was clearly uncomfortable with the topic"...........Just more proof that Republicans are all about IMAGE! I mean seriously, could it possibly be any more obvious? My question is, how much gay bashing did this guy do while he was RNC chairman seeing as he was well aware of being gay at the time and was just putting on an act, that apparently was quite convincing because he was able to dupe his friends, family, and all of his Republican colleagues including their legion of lemmings for 20 years!!!........Republicans= the party of smoke and mirrors!

    August 25, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  4. jules sand-perkins

    What a fine opportunity for the leaders of the Republican Party to completely include the Log Cabin Republican movement, and to address the same social issues that Mr. Mehlman faces from his perspective.
    Support from the gay and lesbian community would weight the November elections nicely for Republicans. One realizes that it may not yet be the time, but there is nothing more conservative–or mature–than an absence of affect concerning sexual orientation.

    August 25, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  5. llmc

    This was well reported in the blogosphere, so if there are neo-cons out there that didn't know about this, they should be more informed. Oh wait, they only watch Fox News. Nevermind...

    August 25, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  6. Jasper

    Another hypocrite Republican bites the dust.

    August 25, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. Eddie B.

    Once again the hypocrisy of Republicans is revealed. This man supported and worked hard for an adminstration that went against everything he stood for.

    August 25, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  8. Tim - Wilmington, DE

    Good for him. It's just a shame that he didn't do it earlier and potentially alleviate some of the nastiness and hatred that his party frequently directs towards people like him. What if he had come out in 2004? Wouldn't it have been great if he had quelled some of hostility about gay marriage then (and now, for that matter)? Eh, water under the bridge. Hopefully now it'll be just a little easier for his colleagues to accept.

    August 25, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  9. Bobby Ray

    What kind of self loathing must a gay man have to choose to be a Republican-a party whose opinion of homosexuals starts with abomination and works its way down from there.

    August 25, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  10. Pat

    Just what the world DOESN'T need - another gay republlican.

    August 25, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  11. Ken

    I'm so happy for Ken and his coming out. We definitely need more public figures embracing their sexuality. This allows younger folks who struggle with their true identity to confront just exactly who they are. Ken, best wishes to you as you become an advocate for gay marriage. Kudos!

    August 25, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  12. Jess

    Bill Maher outed him on Larry King, but it was edited out. This was shown in the movie "Outrage". I can't wait for the guy own south to come out next.

    August 25, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  13. Utah Lady

    I wish he had decided to disclose his orientation when he was still in a position to do some good. This is too little, too late.

    August 25, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  14. Brian Moore

    What a coward! You had a chance to make a HUGE difference while you were inside the circle but you chose to remain closeted to advance your career at other gay people's expense. Although I despise those religious antigay folks, I admire them for saying what they believe in. However, I just CANNOT stand closeted gay men/women who pretend to be straight and harm other gay men/women. They make me sick!

    August 25, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  15. james todd

    Ken Mehlman is a scared former closet case that has helped elect anti gay hateful homophobic republicans and conservatives --and now at 40 he has found his nerve. What a piece of dog doo or chicken doo! Go back in the closet we dont need your kind of lame leadership or following until the others have done all the civil rights work while you were taking it easy with some other gay man.

    August 25, 2010 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  16. Marge

    There is nothing wrong with being gay. But this guy for the years he was in the Bush administration dissed gays and had the most horrendeous things to say about them.

    Seems the ones who protest the most usually end up being what they protest.

    August 25, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. Drew

    I'm guessing then he must not be a member of the Republican Pary anymore?

    August 25, 2010 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  18. jay

    he supports the GOP, but they don't support him.

    August 25, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  19. Kevin

    That was a secret to no one paying attention. I applaud Mr. Mehlman's courage to proclaim his own identity; would that he had found it while working for an administration that willfully demonized gays for political gain.

    Mitch McConnell? We're all waiting...

    August 25, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  20. Rowe

    This is only news to the Republican troglodytes who thought Ken Mehlman's cringing all the way through the 2004 election while his party was using gay marriage-bashing as red meat for the base was due to a toothache. I actually felt sorry for Mehlman being stuck in that spot, and wish him all the best now that he's out of it.

    August 25, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  21. John Ellis

    The harm Bush and others in his party that Melman did so much to elect can not be undone. Like in "Lysistrata" I wish that this would cause all gay men to turn from him, but no doubt he'll find someone as self-loathing, cowardly and plainly stupid as he is. I hope he enjoyed his access to power as he inflicted the gay community of the US with the hatred and legal harm he championed. Now he can experience the harm first hand.

    August 25, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  22. Bessy

    Who cares ! Why is this even on here ?
    Geez !

    August 25, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  23. pdikeman

    And this is "news worthy"?

    August 25, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  24. Jason

    You know if you weren't a traitor in the first place, I mean a Republican, you wouldn't have to have hid your sexuality from all those homophobes you chose to hang around with. Moron.

    August 25, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  25. jstsaying

    Oh please, Bush/Cheney knew darn well he is/was gay. There are two standards in the Republican party, the rhetorical facade they use on 'the little people' and their lifestyles behind closed doors with their own people. The Republican party is being elected for two issues, gay marriage and abortion.

    August 25, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
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