August 26th, 2010
08:32 PM ET
4 years ago

Mehlman: 'I understand people are going to be angry'

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

Washington (CNN) – Former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman is responding to criticism of his role in a Bush political operation that called for a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.

"It was something about my life I was having a hard time accepting then and I can't change that," Mehlman said in a phone interview Thursday with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, before adding "I understand people who are going to be angry."

Mehlman told "The Atlantic" he was gay in an article published Wednesday.

Mehlman told CNN on Thursday he now regrets not reaching out to the gay community during his tenure, but said he has to "look forward" and "do what I think is right." Since his announcement he has received both criticism and support from members of the gay community.

Mehlman was particularly aggressive in his past efforts to attract members of the African-American community to the Republican Party, skills he now says he regrets not applying to the gay community.

"When you don't accept a part of your life it makes things unbelievably difficult on all kinds of levels and this is an example of that. Knowing how much I tried to push the envelope in other areas in attracting new constituencies to our party, I look back and wish there was something I had done in this area," Mehlman said.

Mehlman is one of the most prominent members of the Republican Party to say he is gay, and is now raising money for the pro-same sex marriage effort in California, and also offering strategic advice to proponents.


Filed under: Ken Mehlman
soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. chrishegarty

    A lot of people are going to be angry with Mehlman, but coming to terms with aspects of a person's humanity is a life-long process. I've never had to be surreptitious about my sexuality, so I have a hard time imagining what he must have gone through. I'm happy that he finally did have the guts to come out and that he's now actively supporting gay rights, and I think most other gays are too.

    August 26, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  2. Jeff

    As a gay man my recommendation to Mr. Mehlman is to go jump in a river. Or perhaps he could ask some far right Christian organization to change him back! Maybe he could go consult for Target. Whatever he does we don't want him.
    Mr. Mehlman sold out the gay community because it was politically expediant at the time. He always knew he was gay but didn't care who he hurt. He is a hypocrite who took care of himself by working for Karl Rove and the Republican hate machine and playing the role of straight man. Give me a break. He is not one of us.

    August 26, 2010 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  3. ruty

    I told you so. Republicans SUCK.

    August 26, 2010 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  4. DENNA

    Ken Mehlman: To thine own self be true. A high-profile person like you could be a powerful advocate to the Gay and Lesbian community. Your misguided attempt to 'fit in' needs to stop and you need to find that new comfortable you. If you don't you will live a life of closeted misery. Also, seriously, how could you be a Rethug? They hate everything.

    August 26, 2010 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  5. Tobor

    Making sense of politics can at times seriously test one's cogitative capacities.

    Why would a GOP strategist seriously think his party could win over more than a thimbleful of blacks, without abandoning its alleged commitment to small government, i.e., promise the peeps lots of freebies.

    As for the homosexual issue, the real mystery is why the GOP would have an all but open same-sexer at their helm. Conservative activists in its ranks surely knew which way Mehlman's gate swung, but didn't see fit to raise a fuss. My brow furrows deeply at that one.

    August 26, 2010 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  6. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Really, Sherlock?

    GOP = American Taliban

    August 26, 2010 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  7. Ben

    And he continues to happily give money to people who think his "lifestyle" is immoral or possibly evil and a danger to our nation.

    August 26, 2010 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  8. mfb

    there isn't a closet big enough to hold all the gay conservative republicans...

    August 26, 2010 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  9. BeverlyNC

    I applaud his honesty. There are MANY Republicans in Congress who are closeted gays. HBO did a documentary highlighting how many gay Republicans there were in Congress. They did not out any but said to watch the ones who are the biggest opponents of gay issues such as "don't ask/don't tell repeal.

    Republicans need to stop the hate, intolerance and racism they are spreading in our nation. They should be focuing on how to better America, restore our economy and help our people find good jobs. We need to return manufacturing to American workers and get ahead of the rest of the world in new energy technology.

    Unless Republicans can detail how they will fix our economy and create jobs – then none should be elected to Congress. We need real leaders not do-nothings who only criticize, tell lies, promote hate, fear, and racism. Why should we vote for any Republican when not one voted YES on anything to help our country recover from their mess. They refused to work with Democrats. They offered no solutions and voted NO on everything regardless who it hurt. They do not deserve to be in office when none have kept their oath to SERVE THE PEOPLE.

    August 26, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  10. Canthisbe

    Get a grip on yourself, Ken. No one is angry at you. Most people don't know who yu are and the rest don't care. The only reason the press is covering your blathering is that you are or were designated as a Republican and the leftest media think's it is a smear on Republicans to have one of them come of their closet and acknowledge that they are gay.

    August 26, 2010 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  11. James B Doerrer

    Well not being gay, I have to say better now. You have time to repair some of the past now.
    Please use your political contacts to move forward as by now you know this is not a learned behavior.
    true freedom is not having to lie to make points.

    August 26, 2010 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  12. Greg Scanlon

    I find it typical that the head of the Republican Party took 43 years to find his way in life. His party is even further behind in it's thinking and I don't think they will ever realize what selfish,lost people they have become.

    August 26, 2010 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  13. Chris

    Being honest with yourself and setting the record straight (no pun intended), go a long way in quelling anger. Then again, gay-bashing is only one of many disgusting endeavors undertaken by conservatives. My advice to Mr. Mehlman is to re-examine ALL of your political convictions. You may find that they are a house of cards that you have just nudged. I have a few fiscally conservative views, but I would never, never cozy up to the GOP.

    August 26, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  14. Sean the thinker

    I can't find this story on FOX news.com could somone help me out?

    August 26, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  15. Andrew

    I will never understand any minority voting or supporting Republicans. They are the party of old, white, rich, hetero, Bible-thumpers. There are many more self-hating gays in the Republican party. They are typically the ones speaking out against gays the loudest! Shame on anyone who puts their politics and money ahead of their own civil rights and personal freedoms!

    August 26, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  16. dahlimama

    Mr. Melhman wants us to believe he just didn't know he was gay. Oh, Really? I think he knew very well where his feeling lay but being a coward and being greedy for the money he was making and the power he was enjoying it was a no brainer. Why risk all that when you could come out later when you had nothing to lose say you had suddenly had an epiphany and now wanted to come out of the closet and enjoy the freedom to express his sexuality in public others in the gay community had taken the risk for.In my opinion Melhman is the worst kind of a coward.

    August 26, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    This guy is the epitome of hatred the Republican party knows best. He was gay, but so messed up he did all he could to scare the public to believe in Bush tactics. Once again we see how rotten this Republican party has become. Shame on all of them the world once again sees through their lies. They will never win!

    August 26, 2010 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  18. p

    Typical conflicted Repub.
    Closeted gay men trying to suppress gay rights.

    August 26, 2010 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  19. Seraphimo

    Hypocrite!! As a gay man myself, all I have to say is you nothing more than a traitor! For all the harm you caused people, you are just another douchebag!

    You only prove that what has been said all along, those who scream against gays and their rights are men either in the closet or on the down low. Them screaming against gay rights is one way of distracting attention away from them.

    August 26, 2010 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  20. sara

    Hypocrite.....OHIO. OHIO. OHIO. I remember the anti-gay ballot that "propelled" Bushie back to the WH. If not for that anti-gay ballot.....Kerry would have been President, and the economy would still be strong just as Clinton left it. Maggot.

    August 26, 2010 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  21. diane

    I had heard Mehlman was gay before this came out. There was an HBO documentary Outage which alleged that at several high profile politicians and Congressional staff members as well as some well known journalists were gay.

    I have no problem with him being gay and electing to stay in the closet until now. Everyone has to decide for themselves when to publicly acknowldge their status, if ever.

    However, I do have problems with poltically active gays/lesbians who engage in promoting ant-gay policies and supporting candidates who are against gay rights. Why the heck is do would you want to be associated with a party that is so intolerant of people like you? I don't get groups like the Log Cabin Republicans- your party is against your fundamental rights. It boggles the mind.

    August 26, 2010 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  22. T'SAH from Virginia

    All of the RepubliGAYs should come out of the closet and stop pretending they are God's gift on earth.

    The only thing that strange about this is that Mehlman was fighting against himself during those Bush years!!!

    August 26, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  23. jr

    He appears to be a pathetic, self-hating, hypocrite, who may vilify any group, including gays, for money and to further his career. Even if he did not want to come out, the least he could have done was not to support the anti-gay policies and strategies of the Republican party. I have no respect for this man. Usually the ones who scream the loudest about wanting to support anti-gay policies are self-haters who secretly are hiding the fact they are either gay, want to have sex with a gay person, or are already having sex on the downlow with a gay person. If you don't believe in gay marriage and don't want to marry a gay person, then DON'T, but don't try to deny gay people the same rights as straight people. Gay marriage is an Equal Rights issue, and a person's 'religious' belief or 'majority' thinking on this issue is irrelvant. We live in a democracy NOT a theocracy, and if we allowed the majority to dictate U.S. laws, slavery would still be legal, women would not have the right to vote, interracial and interfaith marriages would be illega, etc., etc.

    August 26, 2010 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  24. Rob

    No one's angry at you, Ken, for coming out. In fact, until you did today, you were an unknown. So, now you're just an unknown the left can use against the right in the lead up to the November elections. BTW, exactly how much are they paying you to come out and be a consultant for the pro-gay marriage campaign. That was the deal, wasn't it?

    August 26, 2010 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  25. b. o. stinks

    this guy didnt stand a chance at not being criticized either by the repubs or by the gays. if he is republican does that make him less gay? he came out so what the gays should be glad as well as the repubs. besides some of my best friends are repubs and the other besr friends are gay. WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL?

    August 26, 2010 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
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