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. David Wood

    You know what. You sold out for a position and to make money and to follow the herd. Who gives a flying monkey's butt what you have to say now. You're a disgrace to the gay community.

    August 26, 2010 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  2. Texas Progressive

    The whole right-wing environment is about sexual and spiritual repression. The very concept of allowing other people to live in peace violates the basic tenets of the extreme social conservative. Now that this guy made his fortune he comes out and supports the cause of gay rights. Big deal. How much harm did he cause before he could speak from this safe position?

    August 26, 2010 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  3. Andy

    Mehlman is a self-loathing hypocrit that deliberately aided in restricting marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Angry? No, I just find him to be pathetic.

    August 26, 2010 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  4. Beelzebozo

    shocking. yet another closeted conservative who goes from his role in the Inquisition to an openly gay 'heretic'. The harder they thwomp the podium (or the 'good' book) the deeper the closet.

    August 26, 2010 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  5. fraserj1

    Tomorrow Sarah Palin and Glen Beck admit they are Democrats.

    August 26, 2010 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  6. Steve wisconsin

    What else is new.

    August 26, 2010 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  7. David in Houston

    Ya know, the funny thing is, when most people come out of the closet they don't cause massive harm to millions of Americans in the process. The idea that he should be excused for helping to pass anti-gay legislation in 21 states, simply because he wasn't openly gay is insulting to anyone with the least bit of intelligent. Everyone knows the difference between right and wrong, regardless of their sexual orientation. What he did is unforgivable. Anyone that cares more about their job than millions of citizens is a cold-blooded sociopath. He deserves nothing but scorn and ridicule.

    August 26, 2010 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  8. R Gayheart

    Mehlman, Get lost, what a jerk !

    August 26, 2010 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  9. FloridaVoter

    Another hypocritical republican

    August 26, 2010 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  10. kevin

    I'm all for accepting people who have been wronged, I am all for people who believe in a message that is wrong....I cannot forgive someone who advocates against their own self hatred and then asks for acceptance after they have caused the problem. Sorry Ken, but you get no sympathy from me. dump your Republican principles and see the light

    August 26, 2010 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  11. Hypocrisy

    Personally, I could not care less what his sexual orientation is, particularly given the fact that it was an open secret for so many years. And I do believe he is a hypocrite. But I'm sorry, the way the media is running away with the story is sickening. It's just a stick that liberals can use to beat conservatives over the head with.

    Get over it, liberals! Accept the fact that, whether you like it or not, there are many people in this country who believe that homosexuality is wrong. That doesn't mean they are all in the closet. And no, I am not advocating bigotry or discrimination of any kind, but everyone has a right to their opinion. And while you can yell and scream about "wedge issues" like this, shoving gay marriage, like abortion, down our throats (no pun intended) through the courts instead of the ballot box shows just how divisive you people really are!

    August 26, 2010 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  12. james

    Dont freak were working that dream job and that monkey Bush was in charge...difficult situation. Im glad you came out !

    August 26, 2010 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  13. J.V.Hodgson

    What I find interesting here is the bit about working on a constitutional amendment, banning same sex marriage. Of course it did not happen even under Bush... the reason to me is obvious
    a) They checked the law and were told it would not work
    b) Getting the needed majority in the House, Senate then ratification by the states is impractical
    QED it will be extremely interesting to see how the Right wing Supreme court will manage somehow to vote back prop 8 to as voted for originally.
    Probably by saying its not a question of dicrimination but global custom and religious practice, = marriage = between a man and a woman but that they must not be denied other civil rights thru a civil union, which all states must allow.
    Not what gays want, which i why many were against this particular court action.

    August 26, 2010 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  14. Testament

    1.) I really don't see how someone's s3xuality is any one else's business to begin with. 2.) And it's not right to deny any one rights based on beliefs alone. Whether its legal or not, its just plain wrong to deny someone of anything they rightfully deserve.

    People really should look up the definition of marriage in the dictionary. Specifically in the Webster's dictionary that i looked at in College it stated: A Civil Union between two individuals.

    I would say awesome for this fellow for standing up for equality in the form of Gay Rights but i still hold my reserves...He is a politian after all and so far no politian has ever earned my respect nor trust.

    August 26, 2010 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  15. Mercy 4 U

    I feel sorry for you. Your life is a mess because you don't know what you stand for. Hope the sex is worth trading your soul.

    August 26, 2010 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  16. sam

    funy, no republicans saying anything about this?

    August 26, 2010 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  17. Klaxon McFlinderginder

    Ken, have you ever asked yourself why you chose to aid and abet a side that fundamentally hates what you are? Have you ever wondered why you fought so long and hard against the side that is far more accepting of gays?

    It's like Roy Cohn all over again.

    August 26, 2010 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  18. StevieBoy

    Well at least he's out now, so that should be the last of the "gays" in the republican party – certainly, there can't be more hiding in there??

    August 27, 2010 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  19. Theresa

    Celebrate your freedom. I am the very proud mother of an incredible son who has been alone in his life coming to who he is. I never doubted who he was other than the single aspect that he had to discover on his own. Oh how my heart hurts that I was not with him in that journey. He is free as you are now and surrounded with the best love, life, and friends we love with immensity >> I shun those tha† pass judgement without knowing that we are all the same with only slight differences. Please continue to support all human beings. Please continue to help those to understand...

    August 27, 2010 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  20. Joe Q Public

    About %5 of any population of humans regardless of race, religion, culture, politics, etc are always going to be gay. It has been that way as long as there have been humans. I guess that explains why gay Mormons have some of the highest suicide rates found in America. Hating something and making laws does not make it disappear. Look at drug abuse for example. And here I thought Republicans were libertarians that believed the government shouldn't tell people how to live their lives. Republican are some of the smoothest hypocrites around, eh Newt Gingrich?

    August 27, 2010 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  21. Bob of Lompoc

    Who comes out of The Closet next, Boss Limbaugh (forget that wife thing, that is just cover), Hannity The Office Boy, O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and his cute little chubby cheeks, Senator Graham of SC, pretty boy Governor Perry of Texas, with his perfect hair? I am waiting for the next shoe to drop (no pun intended, former Senator Craig).

    August 27, 2010 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  22. really?

    you're nothing but a sell out, perfect republican

    August 27, 2010 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  23. VegasRage

    People are going to be mad? Please I could tell the first time I saw him on the TV. You had to be pretty daft to not be able to tell Ken was living an alternative life style. Anyone shocked by this announcement will probably be in tears if Lindsey Graham ever makes hi announcement.

    August 27, 2010 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  24. John

    Mr. Mehlman's cowardice is understandable for sure. He was at the center of a political party that has lost it's values when it comes to governing. A political party that has sold out to the right wing conservative elements of this country. The same right wing conservatives who preach about being Christian but yet do not display anything remotely Christian in their behavior other than to show up and give money to some denomination on Sunday and claim to be Crhistian. Mr. Mehlman couldn't be honest with himself let alone the American people he served. He had to perpetuate the hypocracy of his political party. It's not shocking that there are Republican's who are human beings and who may not be like the majority of their party. It is sad that there are people like Mr. Mehlman who lie to themselves for a career and in this case a career that his actions affect so many others. In this case the hypocracy has real costs to other human beings. Admitting your gay must have been a big step for Mr. Mehlman. I suspect betraying yourself and others how are gay for political gains causes one to have trouble looking in the mirror, if not, then Mr. Mehlman deserves all the negativity that will come his way from the hypocrits and the ones he's harmed!

    August 27, 2010 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  25. henderway6965

    Pa Leez. Him coming out now is about as genuine as slave owners who became rich for hundreds of years only to say it's wrong AFTER the law had been changed. We could have used Mr. Mehlman THEN, when he could have helped us. You were closeted all the time you had a role on the world stage. Why come out NOW. Thanks Benedict Arnold.

    August 27, 2010 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
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