Alex Blaze

Ken Mehlman comes out, and nothing will change

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 26, 2010 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: homophobic behavior, Ken Mehlman, Michael Steele, party, politics, Republicans, rnc

As I posted this morning, Ken Mehlman, the former mehlman.jpgchair of the RNC, came out. He helped run the 2004 presidential campaign, which Mike Rogers called "the most homophobic national campaign in history." That year saw the approval of eleven constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage as George W. Bush himself pushed for a federal constitutional amendment.

While correlation isn't causation, the campaign occurred at a time when we noticed a tangible increase in homophobia in the US, a slump that we didn't get out of until three years later:

homophobia-poll-gallup.png

He responds to some of this in The Atlantic:

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."

First, he didn't need to be out to do that sort of outreach. He was white and he credits himself with how he "reached out to African Americans." Moreover, he didn't need to do it himself, he could have had someone else do it if he was uncomfortable talking about gay issues.

Second, what would that outreach look like? His outreach to black people resulted in no policy that actually addresses or diminishes racism or racial disparity in terms of money or power, nor did it actually lead to more black people voting Republican. FMA didn't pass and Bush wasn't about to push Congress on ENDA, so what does he regret not doing? It doesn't seem he has much understanding about what he was really doing wrong.

Either way, he's still working to elect Republicans, most of whom, as Change.org points out, are homophobic. Even if they weren't, they're still working against the interests of the vast majority of Americans (a category that includes me), so there isn't much here to celebrate in this coming out.

The lesson isn't about how being in the closet eats someone from the inside and makes them do stupid things. Mehlman wasn't in the closet at the time and he's still working to elect antigay politicians. This is just another gay Republican who thinks that if he shows enough fidelity to movement conservatism, he'll finally get these people's approval.


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Still slimy just openly gay and slimy. He should team up with the Lost Cabin Republicans.
The can go gay bashing together.

Scanning several blogs, reaction to Mehlman's coming out has been overwhelmingly 'negative' as in "too little, too late"...and/or far worse, comparing him (deservedly so, IMO) to Roy Cohn.

Try as I might, as he continues to contribute to those who would harm us, I find little chance of his redemption. "Gay, Inc." may 'bend over' and make nice with him because he's rich and connected (vomit)...

Honestly, the only upsides to his coming out have been that the straight community gets to see yet ANOTHER gay bashing/gay hypocrite being "found out" (even if it was Mehlman's own admission)and the other benefit might be some cathartic value in all of the "spleen venting" and (deserved) anger directed at Mehlman by the gay-community-at-large, who HAVEN'T forgotten all of his evil deeds.

He has a lifetime of good works to do for the LGBT community before his Karma is clear, and donating to anti-gay candidates as he has done, shows his internal value system hasn't changed.

For shame, Ken Mehlman, for shame...you are a disgrace to your people.

AFER likes him. Then again, they only have one, clearly stated goal. When that's taken care of, it's back to caviar and champagne.

Mehlman needs to do quite a lot of atonement in the form of big-time community volunteerism in working to change some of his big republican friends. I hope that he does not suddenly become the "gay voice" that the media turns to. If so, he is not a legitimate spokesman.

A step in the right direction but still not acceptable.

LOL. You know that's what's going to happen. He's on all their rolodexes to talk about the gays, and I'm sure he's going to have all sorts of fun opinions. And I'll probably be responding to them here, in my little corner of the internet.

Please don't forget that the two sharp spikes in anti-gay (1986) and pro-gay (2003) sentiment occurred at the same time as the two major Supreme Court cases regarding the constitutionality of sodomy bans.

Bowers v. Hardwick (anti-gay) was decided in 1986, and Lawrence v. Texas (gay-neutral/gay-positive) was decided in 2003. Fie on anyone who thinks that Supreme Court decisions don't have an effect on popular opinion.