Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ken Mehlman Came Out Of The Closet And-- Presto: He's More Progressive On Marriage Equality Than Obama!


Ken Mehlman is sorry he poisoned America with antigay fliers like this

It's hardly news to any DWT readers-- let alone Mike Rogers readers, who, as always, were the first to know-- that Ken Mehlman is gay. Even as the Bush campaign manager and RNC Chair Ken Mehlman was denying it, we always did our best to let everyone know that Mehlman was another garden variety hypocritical conservative closet case living a lie for fun and profit. Marc Ambinder's post, however, is worth reading if just because Mehlman finally admits that it was always Rove's strategy to place anti-gay ballot initiatives on the ballot to bring out the haters and bigots to vote for GOP candidates-- something Rove and other Republicans have always gone to great lengths to deny. It's also interesting to contemplate how badly Obama has bungled his relationship with gay Americans and their friends, allowing right-wing Republicans like Mehlman to stake out a more progressive position on marriage equality than his own. Barack Obama is no friend of the marriage equality community... another issue-- there are so many now-- he wants to be pushed on.
"It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life," Mehlman said. "Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that's made me a happier and better person. It's something I wish I had done years ago."

...Mehlman's leadership positions in the GOP came at a time when the party was stepping up its anti-gay activities-- such as the distribution in West Virginia in 2006 of literature linking homosexuality to atheism, or the less-than-subtle, coded language in the party's platform ("Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country..."). Mehlman said at the time that he could not, as an individual Republican, go against the party consensus. He was aware that Karl Rove, President Bush's chief strategic adviser, had been working with Republicans to make sure that anti-gay initiatives and referenda would appear on November ballots in 2004 and 2006 to help Republicans.

Mehlman acknowledges that if he had publicly declared his sexuality sooner, he might have played a role in keeping the party from pushing an anti-gay agenda.

"It's a legitimate question and one I understand," Mehlman said. "I can't change the fact that I wasn't in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally." He asks of those who doubt his sincerity: "If they can't offer support, at least offer understanding."

"What I do regret, and think a lot about, is that one of the things I talked a lot about in politics was how I tried to expand the party into neighborhoods where the message wasn't always heard. I didn't do this in the gay community at all."

He said that he "really wished" he had come to terms with his sexual orientation earlier, "so I could have worked against [the Federal Marriage Amendment]" and "reached out to the gay community in the way I reached out to African Americans."

If the GOP doesn't hand out copies of former far right Republican congressman and closet case Bob Bauman's book, The Gentleman From Maryland: The Conscience Of A Gay Conservative, to newly elected Republican closet cases, they should at least set up meetings between them and recently outed California state Senator Roy Ashburn. This is from an interview from a few weeks ago:
For decades you worked so hard to keep your sexual orientation under wraps. This must have been a torment, but in another sense, was there an element of relief?

I'm sensing relief now. I had not consciously decided to come out, but there's no doubt looking back that I had become increasingly bold about attending gay events, like pride festivals, and going to dance clubs and bars. Last year I attended Las Vegas Pride and San Diego Pride.

Were you looking over your shoulder?

A little more in San Diego than Las Vegas.

...At some point, you must have realized a public career was incompatible with being open about your sexual preferences.

Something happened that I guess caused me to realize that. When I was in sixth grade, the police had a raid in the sand dunes [near San Luis Obispo] and a bunch of gay men were arrested, probably charged with indecent activity. That sticks in my mind-- the publicity and the shame around it. One of my teachers was one of the people. The talk among the kids, the talk among the adults, the talk in the community, the press-- at that time the choice was pretty clear: If you were gay and open, it was a life of shame, ridicule, innuendo about molesting and perversion. It was a dark life. Given that choice of whether you come out or whether you're in secret, I mean, there really wasn't a choice.

You worked for members of Congress, then were elected to public office yourself from Kern County. Were your sexual preferences in the back of your mind, or did you just go about your business?

The answer is both yes and no. I was married and had children. And I had a career and a passion. I also had a huge secret. But given my circumstances and my responsibilities, it wasn't an overwhelming issue for me. The desires were always there, but my focus was primarily on-- well, pretty selfishly-- on me and my career and my family.

Barry Goldwater had a gay grandson and didn't think government had any business in anybody's bedroom. But the recent brand of Republicanism has championed anti-gay issues.

I truly believe the conservative philosophy as embraced by Goldwater: that the government has no role in the private lives of the citizens. In the 1980s, there was a coming together of the religious right and the Goldwater right, sort of a marriage of convenience. It propelled Ronald Reagan to the presidency. Reagan never repudiated that but — this is just my view — I don't think he really embraced it either. In no way do I want to put down people of strong religious convictions; I happen to have very strong religious beliefs myself. But it was a merger of those two, and the religious [right's issues] were about same-sex rules, same-sex marriage, abortion, gun rights, these sort of core, litmus-test issues.

Did you feel uneasy with that combination? You did help to organize and speak at a rally in 2005 against a legislative bill sanctioning same-sex marriage.

How I ever got into that is beyond me. I was very uncomfortable with that, and I told one of my confidantes, "I'm never doing that again." It was not what I wanted to do, it wasn't me, but I helped to organize and lent my name.

A lot of people, gay or straight, are probably wondering why you voted even against issues like insurance coverage for same-sex partners.

The best I can do is to say that I was hiding. I was so in terror I could not allow any attention to come my way. So any measure that had to do with the subject of sexual orientation was an automatic "no" vote. I was paralyzed by this fear, and so I voted without even looking at the content. The purpose of government is to protect the rights of people under the law, regardless of our skin color, national origin, our height, our weight, our sexual orientation. This is a nation predicated on the belief that there is no discrimination on those characteristics, and so my vote denied people equal treatment, and I'm truly sorry for that.

When it comes to marriage, I'm getting the feeling that you're mulling over whether government ought to be in the marriage license business at all.

It's a very complicated issue, marriage, but it seems to me that the government's role is to protect a civil contract, whether it's to purchase a home together, enter into whatever financial or legal arrangement, including marriage. The whole issue of marriage as a 5,000-year-old tradition, a religious context, a historical context-- what government's role is, is the sanctification of the legal bond. Then it seems to me a matter for a church or some other societal organization but not for government.

What have you been talking about with the gay groups you've been meeting with?

The same things we're talking about. I don't have an agenda. I don't have a plan. I don't have an expectation. I just want people to know who I am and what's in my heart. I kept that from people. I concealed it from everyone for almost all my life, so I'm [now] privileged to work with people from all aspects of life, including organizations devoted to advancing the rights of gay and lesbian and transgendered individuals.

Recently in the Senate you spoke in favor of a resolution calling on Congress to repeal "don't ask, don't tell.''

For that day I knew I had to say something. I already had prepared what I was going to say about serving in the military, and I actually had it written out because I wanted to be precise. But I had to preface it with something else, to give context to why all this time in elective office and being so deeply hidden, why was I now standing and speaking on this subject matter, and so I did.

...You're divorced, with four daughters and grandchildren. So here's where I ask about your family, and you can tell me to buzz off.

The things we're talking about were my choices. It was my choice to keep it secret; it was my choice to be a gay man and be married and have children. It was my choice to build a life on lies in order to conceal myself. That obviously had a big effect on my marriage and my children in ways that I don't fully comprehend, but it's my responsibility and not something to be talked about in interviews.

They all sound vaguely the same when they come out-- usually by being outed the way Mark Foley, Bauman, Ashburn and Jim Kolbe were-- but that still never seems to help the closet cases like Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Aaron Schock (R-IL).

Now, speaking of Aaron Schock, the Democrat running against Schock, Deirdre “DK” Hirner, is taking on the GOP golden boy with absolutely no help whatsoever from the Democratic Party-- sound familiar? So she's resorting to... guerilla tactics. We liked this one:

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At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great soundtrack to that ad.

At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Benito said...

The Republicans are so funny, when the economy is good you say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. When most Americans (with Latin America roots) go to the polls this November we will remember that the GOP has gone on a nationwide rant in proposing and passing several anti-immigration legislation (that continue to fail in our US Courts) and have continue to blame the immigrant for the flat economy or worse. We will remember who stands with us and who stands against us, so trying to stop it now is somewhat funny, but go ahead, you will not change our minds. Plus the more radical of the GOP are now attacking our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, in a misguided attempt to garner some much needed votes, they really are fools, and leading the GOP towards obscurity because they are no longer a party of ideas, just of empty suits. Your hate made you do it, in November; you will reap what you have sown. I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would say about todays GOP, he unlike the current GOP was a man of ideas.

At 12:31 PM, Anonymous me said...

First, Mehlman being gay is ancient news. My gaydar went crazy every time I saw him. Not that I care, but he and his party are the ones that made a big deal of it.

(FWIW, I think Bush is bi.)

Second, fuck him. Too little, too late. He and his kind have screwed up the world like no one else ever has. Apology NOT accepted.

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous me said...

"More Progressive On Marriage Equality Than Obama"

That's not saying much.

At 11:57 PM, Anonymous Heather said...

This caught me completely by surprise. I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the headline. I knew Mehlman was gay, but who the hell knew he was a man?

At 2:42 AM, Anonymous moran@israel said...

nothing is progressive in gay marrige. this PR made mehlman famous, probably thats what he wanted..

At 5:25 AM, Anonymous Mark Scarbrough said...

Oh frapjous day, callooh, callay.

Working with Rove et al, he causes untold emotional, political, social, and economic pain to American citizens, members of my community. Then--and who could possible have seen this plot twist coming?--he goes to work at a private equities firm, hauling in dump trucks of bucks. And when it's all done, when he's resting comfortably on his big dough sack, he comes out.

It's times like these when this whole atheist thing doesn't pan out. I can't even wish he'd rot in hell. So I'll give it my best: May his life be long and common.


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