(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.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/25/art.mehlman.gi.jpg 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.
Is former top Bush aid Ken Mehlman – who has told friends and family he is gay - a courageous conservative or shameful hypocrite? (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
(CNN) - Is former top Bush aid Ken Mehlman – who has told friends and family he is gay - a courageous conservative or shameful hypocrite?
That's the debate raging through political circles and around the blogosphere a day after the former Republican National Committee chairman and 2004 Bush campaign manager told The Atlantic magazine he is gay.
In one corner are those who say Mehlman has arrived at the end of a difficult journey of self acceptance, and should be praised for coming out publicly and pledging to work with groups that advocate for same-sex marriage in the future.
In the other are those whose memory still remains fresh - of the Bush administration's stance on gay rights in general and particularly Bush's 2004 presidential campaign, of which Mehlman was a chief architect, that repeatedly used the issue of same-sex marriage to increase conservative turnout at the polls.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/25/art.mehlman.gi.jpg caption="Former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman has told The Atlantic he is gay."](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.