Kate Clinton

HO-MO-HUM

Filed By Kate Clinton | September 02, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: AFER, Bill Donohue, GOP, Ken Mehlman

On the same day marking Mother Teresa's 100th birthday, news broke that the former chairmanken-mehlman.jpg of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman is gay. Much to the chagrin of William Donohue, head of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, the Empire State Building was not bathed in Mother Teresa's blue and white team colors to mark her centenary. So far no head of any LGBT League has complained that the Empire was unbathed in rainbow colors for Mehlman's coming out. Actually the news was greeted with a giant ho-hum. And that is what is so maddening.

Let's dissect that ho-hum.

First, the ho part. Under Mehlman's leadership of the RNC during the George W. Bush re-election (or first non-selection) campaign, gay marriage was used as a cynical get-out-the-vote tactic. Morning after quarterbacks can use any numbers they want to prove that the tactic didn't really get out the conservative vote, but it does not ameliorate gay people's visceral knowledge that we were the RNC campaign's wedgie, the butt thong between the cheek of church and the cheek of state.

Mehlman, in whatever phase of his own gay self-awareness, did nothing to stop it. He actually advocated a push for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Under the Bush administration's second term government-sanctioned homophobia anti-gay violence increased, Don't Ask Don't Tell continued unabated and many gay rights advances at the state level were rescinded.

Since I try to be fully pro-choice, and because I too struggled to come out, I have to hear Ken Mehlman when he says that only recently has he "become comfortable with this part of my life." But as the bride-to-be Joan Cusack in the 1997 movie IN &OUT asks Kevin Klein after he tells her he's gay at the altar, I also have to ask, "Could you possibly have picked a better time to tell me?"

Post-power position endorsements of gay rights - Laura Bush, Dick Cheney on gay marriage - are no consolation. While many remark that the non-reaction to Mehlman's news is a sign of progress for gay rights, it is more a sign of progress in straight comfort. There is work to be done.

So now, for the hum part. I'm a moderate lesbian. I generally hold a grudge for six generations. But in the spirit of Mother Teresa's b'day, I might make a conditioned exception for Mehlman. It is ironically fitting that Mehlman, the prodigious RNC fundraiser, has raised a million dollars for the Boies-Olsen efforts in over-turning CA anti-same sex marriage Prop 8.

To fight anti-gay legislation, gay people still have to go door-to-door outing ourselves to anti-gay voters, neighbors and family as if trick or treating for our rights. For his penance, Mehlman needs to go door-to-door and speak to anti-gay legislators, former bosses, colleagues and friends to stop anti-gay nuisance propositions before they even begin. For extra-credit penance, he should go have tea and a talk with William Donohue. Wear a rainbow lapel pin.


Recent Entries Filed under The Movement:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


Paige Listerud | September 2, 2010 10:49 AM

Thanks for this, Kate.

Nothing would appall me more than if Ken Mehlman were to parlay his coming out into a second career. A discreet dismissal from the GOP to "spend time with his (new, gay) family;" a turn through the late night media, applying for public exoneration through The Daily Show, Jay Leno, etc.; an interview in The Advocate; a pathetic tell-all book about his personal struggle, hiding his gayness while promoting violence-inducing queer hatred throughout the nation and, finally, a comfortable lobbying job, gotten through his right-wing connections and maybe a few secret prayer sessions with "The Family" on K street.

Just anticipating his public queer redemption is making me nauseous, so I'll stop now. May it all turn out to be much less than I'm projecting.

Gay Republicans.

How pathetic.

Like Gay Catholics. Or Gay Mormons.

Give it up. Don't be with people who hate. Don't be with people who hate you.

Mo Rage
the blog

So you won't let a gay Catholic stand with you for full equality? Or a gay Republican? Why not?

This is actually a very good sign and it is real progress. For a more thoughtful interpretation of what is happening to the Republicans, look here:

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2010/09/the_emergence_of_gay_republica.php?utm_source=sbhomepage&utm_medium=link&utm_content=channellink

More thoughtful?
Wishful, perhaps...

As an aside, given that the mobilisation of the right in the name of All Things Christian and in the name of protecting the western Jesus worshipping world from the dangers of sodomy was incited by this man as well as by Arthur Finkelstein(who slunk off afterwards to marry his man) I do believe that wearing shirts with the pictures of those slain by the hatred that they inspired, for the rest of their pathetic, hypocritical, and opportunistic lives is hardly too much to ask for...

Mr. Mehlman's penance should be to sleep in the Senate cafeteria, lobbying everyday for the next 3 months to get the American Equality Bill sponsored and cosponsored by at least 51% of the members. http://www.actonprinciples.org/2010/06/11/introducing-the-american-equality-bill-for-community-self-empowerment-and-grassroots-leadership-our-time-has-come/

More thoughtful?
Wishful, perhaps...

As an aside, given that the mobilisation of the Right in the name of All Things Christian and in the name of protecting the western Jesus worshipping world from the dangers of sodomy was incited by this man as well as by Arthur Finkelstein(who slunk off afterwards to marry his man) I do believe that wearing shirts with the pictures of those slain by the hatred that they inspired, for the rest of their pathetic, hypocritical, and opportunistic lives is hardly too much to ask for...

Or you can get over it and understand that Mehlman WAS one of an estimated 10 million LGBT Americans that are still in the closet. Many people still see it as a risk to come out. Maybe he finally gets it. Maybe he will persuade others to follow him. Surely you would agree he does get to re-create himself, right? He has finally been able to let go of religious beliefs that made him dishonest. If he has chosen honesty now he deserves our support.

If you're still mad at him, can I ask how long you will remain mad? A few months? A year? Forever?

Not for ever of course but for some time. I personally cannot do that "oh ok well then all is forgiven" thing. It isn't in my nature and it isn't in my cultural and religious upbringing. Re-balance and redress are called for here. Until such time as I think that he has equitably restored balance for his previous actions I see no need to show him, kindness or understanding.
I refuse to say thank you and welcome to the family just because he has stopped launching attacks at us. He has a lot to make up for. I would say that he isn't lie most of those "estimated 10 million" closet cases. They are in the closet, but most of them are not shooting under the door at the ankles of the ones not in the closet.
I do not see where he demonstrates any significant value to us and were he to go up in flames from spontaneous human combustion I do not see where we should count it as anything other than fortuitous in that an old enemy is removed from the game.

Well, he is apparently talking to large donors to the GOP and get them to support LGBT Equality. Would you rather he NOT do that?

I guess anger and retribution would want to "remove an enemy from the game," instead of have them join our side, come out and tell the truth, and then try to enroll others. It seems like a simple choice.

CassandraToday | September 3, 2010 7:14 AM

It's a delight to start the day with your writing, Ms Clinton. Funny I don't remember reading you in Bilerico before. I'll have to remedy that henceforth.

You had me at "campaign wedgie," and I fell in love at "I'm a moderate lesbian. I generally hold a grudge for six generations."

None of this is to slight your content, either -- many of us are both mad and glad, a curious situation that you report well.

Thanks.

I'm thinking I'm with you on the grudges thing, Kate.

From your comments I can see most people like your post, thanks for taking time to write these. It makes our feel something different. ¬Hope you have a great day.