(CNN) – Ken Mehlman, the former Republican National Committee Chairman who last summer announced he was gay, says it's time the GOP publicly support same-sex marriage.
Mehlman's new position – once all but unthinkable from the man who ran former President George Bush's 2004 reelection bid – comes more than three months after he shocked many in Washington with his announcement.
But in an interview with the website The Big Think, Mehlman says he has come to believe that supporting gay rights is a logical extension of the principles the GOP seeks to advance.
"I do hope the Republican Party in the future, will look in the mirror and leaders in the party will think about where we stand and say, 'You know what? The party of Lincoln ought to be about letting adults who love each other to be married.' And the party of Lincoln ought to be about giving people more personal freedom," Mehlman told the website, in remarks published Friday.
The position is clearly at odds with the platform of the party Mehlman once ran, and is directly contrary to Bush's 2004 stance in support of a constitutional ban on gay marriage – a factor that was key in energizing social conservatives that year.
But now Mehlman – who is a managing director at the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts – said his goal is to convince fellow Republicans to change their mind on the issue, as he has.
"I hope that people like myself and others can try to persuade people in the Republican Party that if you think about some pretty important issues that we all believe in, whether it's freedom, whether it's, frankly, the value of community, that on issues like, for example, the freedom to marry, the right to marry, it's consistent with the Republican philosophy," he said.
Mehlman's announcement that he is gay received mixed feelings from members of the gay community last August – with some praising the top GOP operative as courageous conservative as others declared he was a shameful hypocrite for helping to advance an anti-gay agenda for years.