Mehlman to ABC News: “When I Was at the RNC, I Hadn’t Come to Terms With This”

Aug 25, 2010 9:31pm

In a phone interview with ABC News, former White House political director, Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign manager and RNC chairman Ken Mehlman confirms that he’s gay, a story first reported earlier this evening by The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder.

Why is he coming out now? We asked him.

“I had gotten involved in helping to raise some money for AFER” –  the American Foundation for Equal Rights, a group that supports same-sex marriage and is suing to overturn California’s Proposition 8 – “and in the context of doing that some questions had come up and I wanted to answer the questions honestly,” Mehlman told ABC News.

Mehlman said that whatever people had whispered in the past, “My family and my friends found out about this in the last several months.”

Why was he in the closet during those many years in politics?

“When I was at the RNC I hadn’t come to terms with it, I hadn’t accepted it.”

Mehlman told ABC News that he disagreed with those who argue that the Bush-Cheney campaign and RNC’s push against same-sex marriage was a decisive reason for Bush’s re-election. Republican leaders had pushed for anti-same-sex-marriage referenda in states across the country to gin up turnout.

“My own view is that’s not what decided the 2004 election,” Mehlman said. “I’ve had debates with friends on it. I understand where people are coming from.”

Does he regret being part of that campaign in any way?

“No,” Mehlman said. “What I regret is the fact that I had not come to terms with this part of my life and therefore, because I had not come to terms with it, I was not able to do what I was able to do in other areas and work for a more inclusive and broader party.”

Mehlman is now obviously supportive of same sex marriage, but he cautioned activists, saying “it’s a mistake to assume to those disagree on the right to marry issue are motivated by bigoted feelings. A lot of the friends I have who feel differently on that issue are motivated by heartfelt belief. I look forward to trying to persuade them on my own views but I think it’s a mistake to question their motives.”

-Jake Tapper

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