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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. lovable liberal

    The difference between being an exploitative bigot and being a self-hating exploitative bigot is not something that matters to anyone other than Ken Mehlman.

    August 27, 2010 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  2. Jonny

    Republican Tool.
    Nothing more.

    August 27, 2010 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  3. Cathy

    Was he having a hard time accepting who he is or was he having a hard time deciding to end his reign as Kingmaker of the Republican party?
    He, like Mary Cheney, had the opportunity to contribute to a real and important conversation on homosexuality but instead decided to bow to the party. By doing so, they knowingly (particularly Ken Mehlman) contributed to the devisive, destructive and violent hatred of homosexuality in the republican party. Suicide rates of teen and young adults gays continue to increase as does the violence against gays. Mehlman contributed to this. He deserves the criticism. The blood on his hands will never wash away.

    August 27, 2010 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  4. Robb Gries

    I'm glad that Ken Mehlman has made peace with his sexuality and finally decided to come out. It cannot have been easy to reconcile his basic nature with his conservative beliefs. However, I continue to hold him responsible for his actions during the 2004 election and afterward. Gays were scapegoated in that election, and as a result ballot initiatives in several states passed, harming gays and lesbians nationwide. Mr. Mehlman must own up to the fact that gays and lesbians around the country paid a heavy price for his cowardice and ambition, and we continue to do so even now. I was harmed as a result of your "inability to deal" with your sexuality, Mr. Mehlman, and I won't forgive you anytime soon.

    August 27, 2010 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  5. Clayton

    Hmmm. Another Republican down. Wonder how many more there still are hiding in the closet

    August 27, 2010 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  6. billp

    Setting aside whether Mehlman's coming out makes him brave and/or a hypocrite, there is poetic justice in the fact that he will now taste the bitter fruits of the hatred and intolerance toward gays that he helped foster and inflame in the GOP. In this case, what goes around truly is coming around.

    August 27, 2010 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  7. Haldor

    I love it how President Bush, Vice President Cheney even the First Lady Laura Bush all support Gay marriage and liberals scourge them. President Obama opposes Gay marriage and all the liberals fall over themselves to follow Obama blindly. Re: Story about RNC Chair Mehlman being Gay.

    August 27, 2010 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  8. Doug

    While the gay community has been treated like second class citizens this man takes part in that treatment.. Now he needs money and uses the gay community to help him with that.. Go to hell !

    August 27, 2010 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  9. malabar

    For those who dont understand how any gay person can b republican or conservative, wud u sell out on everythng else u believed for 1 issue? or try to change views on ur 1 issue while moving forward and working together on everythng else u do agree on. i am gay. latino. and voting straight Republican Nov 2010! 😉

    August 27, 2010 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  10. Craig Church


    Angry does not even BEGIN to come close to the outrage I feel for this waste of protein.

    He ORCHESTRATED so much hatred and so many lies.

    May he rot, and fester in his own lies and B.S.

    August 27, 2010 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  11. chui

    Those smelly, itchy warts down below, the hypocrite, Sunday Christian evangelical hog wash, the greed and all the rest got in the way.

    August 27, 2010 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  12. Bob Buck

    I'm not unhappy with the gov't. I was on unemployment last year and everyone in my state of Illinois was helpful and nice. Most Americans are spoiled brats who think they should all be Donald Trump. Who inherited most of his money anyway.

    August 27, 2010 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  13. Margot707

    This story is somewhat similar to Rev Mel White's. He fought his "inner demons" about being homosexual for years all the while being a ghost writer for Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Bill Graham.

    August 27, 2010 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  14. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    I don't care one way or the other whether this guy is gay–what burns me is/was his willingness to use the power of government to impose his idiot pseudo-morality on people.

    If the GOP would quit trying to impose their petty tyranny-of-morality on everyone, they'd have more friends.

    August 27, 2010 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  15. eddie

    Bla, bla, bla, another hypocrite republican

    August 27, 2010 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  16. barry

    The guy just came out of the closet. I am sure it's not easy admitting to yourself your gay much less the American public. Get off of him. He saw the error of his ways and he has changed.

    August 27, 2010 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  17. jules sand-perkins

    When President Obama compared gay men's and lesbians' sexuality to beastiality and pedophilia as one of the initial attempts at his "pretty-good-at" politicking so early in his failed presidency, he showed why people like Mr. Mehlman are not only intimidated but legally forced by stupid people, including most Servants of God, into acting
    against their own best interests.
    Mr. Melhman cannot be blamed for not overcoming all of the world's ignorance, hatred, superstition, and homophobia by himself when working for Bush: unlike Barack Obama, Ken Mehlman did not perceive himself as the Savior of the World cum Prophet/Messiah and Normal Guy.
    Mr. Mehlman can only be praised for personally overcoming, within himself, such astoundingly stupid hatred at any time before his death, a feat accomplished by very few humans.

    August 27, 2010 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
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