As I posted this morning, Ken Mehlman, the former chair 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:
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.