Ken Mehlman: A Republican champion for gay marriage?
The former RNC chairman's announcement that he is gay could give same-sex marriage supporters their strongest rightwing voice yet
The same-sex marriage battle just got more interesting: Former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman has revealed he's gay in an interview with The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder. Long rumored to be homosexual, the never-married Mehlman, 43 — who also served as George W. Bush's campaign manager in 2004 — will now reportedly become an advocate for gay marriage, a decision that's surprised some because of Mehlman's close ties to the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which sparked the legal challenge against California's Proposition 8 this year. "Mehlman is the most powerful Republican in history to identify as gay," notes Ambinder. But will this development really make a difference?
More evidence Republicans are getting behind gay marriage: Mehlman's announcement isn't really "breaking news," says Toby Harnden in the Daily Telegraph. Bill Maher outed him in 2006. But his "very public emergence from the closet" is further proof that Republicans are becoming increasingly comfortable with gay marriage. Many conservatives now agree a government ban on same-sex unions is "unwarranted state interference in one's personal life."
"Gay marriage is coming to America"
Mehlman's announcement won't make a bit of difference: You can probably find a "handful of Republican strategists" in favor of gay rights, says Brent Sullivan at Queersighted, but there isn't a "single federally-elected Republican in this country that openly supports gay marriage." It'll take a lot more than one openly gay Republican to undo years of conservative prejudice. If you really want to change things, Ken, "you've got a lot of work ahead of you."
"Former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman comes out (lose/lose)"
Mehlman's new-found advocacy is too little, too late: If Mehlman is so keen on gay rights, says Gabriel Arana in The American Prospect, why is he only speaking up now? He "stood idly by" as the Bush administration made gay marriage into a "wedge issue" and tried to impose a federal ban on it. Regardless of his own sexuality, Mehlman had a "moral obligation to stand up to prejudice." The fact that he's only doing so now makes him a coward, "gay or straight."
"You don't have to be gay to do the right thing"