(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