August 26th, 2010
08:32 PM ET
8 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. Bob

    Sounds like someone's having a guilty conscience. Sorry if I feel you deserve your lonely, sleepless nights after not only using gay people's rights as a political football, but also giving us four more years of W. that sealed the economic downfall of our country with his unpaid for tax cuts to the rich, unbudgeted war, kickbacks to the energy brokers, rape of the environment, gutting of federal agencies and regulators (so we get like BP spills, salmonella in eggs and peanut butter), and direct pipeline of taxpayer dollars in Haliburton via no-bid contracts. Ken, I hope you never sleep soundly again.

    August 26, 2010 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  2. Mark

    The gay community should have no sympathy for Mehlman. Odd that's it's always the fiery opponents of the gay community who come out or get tied up in scandals. I can't remember a time I've seen the tear felt coming out of a liberal or moderate politician. If you make your career attacking a group your a member of for cycnical political reason, you should expect a guilottine, not a hug!

    August 26, 2010 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  3. 8 Years of having a drunken driver at the wheel put America in the ditch, why would working Americans return the keys to the crowd drinking at the same bar?

    "look forward" indeed!

    Your past as head hypocrite of the Rabid Nazi Committee has caused too much damage and real human pain to the gay community for you to ever look back.

    August 26, 2010 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  4. Sean Kelly

    What are you afraid of and then go educate yourself before you harm others and yourself.
    When are we going to stop being afraid America?
    Shame on you Ken and shame on us for not understanding.

    August 26, 2010 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  5. Berdie Sanchez

    I don't care that you are gay, i just want you to get off the political scene. I will never protect your rights, because u go against all that is right and acceptable. You are obviously an agnostic or an athiest and you have that right. God gave you free will, but I will not go against God's will, 'men should not lay with other men'. It is that simple for me. You can't procreate, so all you are doing is having sex. Animals do that, for their own survival, what is your excuse?

    August 26, 2010 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  6. Trey Mck

    Mr, Mehlman, I commend you for coming to terms with yourself, for acknowledging your past failings and missteps, for turning your energies toward helping same-sex marriage become a fact of life in America. Welcome to the out and proud tribe, sir.

    August 26, 2010 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  7. Dominic

    The wost politics has to offer. Traitor to himself and the nation for persecuting gays. Shame on him. Did he not think that the policies he advocated had an effect on us 'little people'? It is my hope he fully reaps what he has put in motion and feels the negative effects of his actions.

    August 26, 2010 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  8. Who Cares

    I wonder what Mehlman would have done if he and Bush had had their way and initiated a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? Not that it would have gotten anywhere, but I just wonder.

    August 26, 2010 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  9. Christopher Bradley

    Excuse me? He thinks the worst thing he did was failing to "reach out" to the gay community? Does he seriously think THAT'S why gay people are rejecting his half-assed apology?

    Mr. Mehlman, a LOT of gay people had "a hard time accepting" things and DIDN'T SET GAY RIGHTS BACK 30 YEARS.

    No, it's not okay. How about a REAL apology?

    August 26, 2010 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  10. Berdie Sanchez

    I just realized that you actually and truly believe you can have an impact with us. How ridiculous can you be? You are just one more homosexual because I refuse to allow you to tell me what 'gay' means. You are disgusting and you need to step out of whatever you are doing that go into oblivion. You have no power to impact anyone or anything. I wonder what your mother thinks of you? Not much, I am sure. You need to hide and never be heard from again. You are not important enough to make anyone angry. YOu are just hoping that that is true because you yearn for 'notoriaty' but it wont' come. Until today, I had never heard of you and hope never to again. Go away you WANNABE!

    August 26, 2010 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  11. Terry P

    He did it for the money and prestige.

    August 26, 2010 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  12. PB

    There are really no words to describe what Mehlman has done to institutionalize the hate against same gender marriages in state amendments across this country!

    August 26, 2010 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  13. Phill

    All these people, Mehlman, Cheney, Laura Bush and Bill Clinton are "coming out" now as supporters of gay rights. It's too bad they didn't when they actually had the power to do something about it.

    August 26, 2010 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  14. JES

    Who cares whatyou are just do the right thing and vote to get Obama out in 2012.

    I don't know why people say you are a Republican it doesn't matter you are a gay man period.

    August 26, 2010 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  15. Peter E

    Nowhere on Foxnews (not that I read it very often) can you find this article. Figures.

    August 26, 2010 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  16. dsoler

    wow. Not Palin friendly news!

    August 26, 2010 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  17. bob

    Angry? How can you stay in the Republican Party when they don't accept or honor you? What a hypocrite.

    August 26, 2010 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  18. George of the jungle

    water under the bridge. So many repos find themselves in this position. It would be a good idea to keep their mouths closed so they won't end up in this position. Remember the ones who hollar the loudes are usually the one that have been found cheating on wives or toe tapping in rest rooms/. Hope he becomes an asset to the gay rights movement. aybe he will even become a democrat.

    August 26, 2010 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  19. Todd

    Mehlman's quote was apparently "I understand people who are going to be angry."

    CNN: Why is the headline quote different than the quote in the story? I don't think you get the edit the quotes to make them sound more headline-y.

    August 26, 2010 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  20. DonD

    To all the people that fell for the anti-gay scam of Bush, Mehlman & Rove in the 2004 election...You, God, Jesus Christ, the constitution, the flag and the country were all've beeen had! And you did it to fellow Americans in the name of God and Anmerica for the corrupt power of the GOP

    August 26, 2010 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  21. Bill

    Isn't it totally obvious by now that all anti-gay demagogues are themselves closeted, self-loathing gays? Every single one!

    Oh, Tony Perkins, come on out already! It's safe.

    August 26, 2010 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  22. cd

    How come everyone knew he was gay except him?

    August 26, 2010 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  23. Mark Schmit

    He is not a hypocrite for keeping quiet about the issue of gay marriage, many people gay and straight oppose same-sex marriage....I couldnt care less what his opinion is on gay marriage... I am diappointed that he hasnt apologized to the country for giving us the worthless Bush agenda of huge tax cuts for the wealthy and low wage dead end jobs for the rest of the country, and the mountain of debt he left us with

    August 26, 2010 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  24. misanthropicus

    [...] is now raising money for the pro-same sex marriage effort in California, and also offering strategic advice to proponents. [...]
    Good to know that Mehlman is yet another creep that wants to usurp the votes of the California voters. Twice the majority of Calif voters said no to gay marriage – and their will must be respected. Yet Mehlman and other creeps who place "what's personal is political" above the will and well-being of the nation prefers to join a deeply corrupt 9th circuit court (both 9th. court judges Walker and Kozinsky are gay), and an AG and a governor (Brown and Schwartzenegger) who preferred not to defend the California law, and try to overturn by legal conspiracy the results of the vote. Mehlman's words and acts show that he, like most Washington operatives simply do not care about this nation's best interests – it's just them, grinning in the limelight, swelling with self-satisfaction –

    August 26, 2010 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  25. Larry

    Angry? How about a real sincere and heartfelt apology to those of us who were targeted by the hate, vitriol and gay-bashing your wedge issue condoned and promoted during Bush's destructive 2004 presidential campaign?

    How about selling your Chesea home and donating the proceeds to furthering the causes you now espouse to support?

    How about meeting with the parents of those teens and young adults who committed suicide when their options for life evaporated as a result of your sick rhetoric? Shame on you.

    Do you believe in Kharma? Have you atoned for your sins on Yom Kippur?

    August 26, 2010 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
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