Phil Reese

Chelsea Clinton, Ken Mehlman & David Mixner to Team Up for Friendfactor

Filed By Phil Reese | April 09, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Chelsea Clinton, David Mixner, Friendfactor, Ken Mehlman, New York, strange bedfellows

You can't imagine stranger bedfellows.

mixner-clinton-mehlman.jpgThe super tech-savvy organization promoting straight allies get involved in the political process pushing for LGBTQ equality, is celebrating the launch of its New York initiatives with a big event hosted by its newest Advisory Board member, Chelsea Clinton.

"I'm really excited we've been joined by an amazing initial host committee," said Friendfactor founder, Brian Elliot. "They represent each a very different part of the story that's very much friend factor - its not about politics, its about straight friends helping their gay friends. I've been very impressed with Chelsea's support."

I'd be excited about this line-up as well, which seems about as likely as a Beatles reunion. Even more after the jump.

Friendfactor was originally established as "The Right Side of History" after an attention grabbing campaign in 2009 by Brian Elliot on the young Facebook "Causes" website called "Give Brian Equality," in which Brian sought to recruit his straight friends to make calls and office visits to their lawmakers in the name of LGBTQ equality in civil marriage, workplace non-discrimination, open military service and more big LGBTQ civil concerns.

The organization is broken up into a 501(c)(3) that does educational work, as well as a 501(c)(4) that develops the advanced social technology tools that LGBTQ people use to mobilize their straight friends, and that straight allies use to track and share their actions in hopes of inspiring other straight friends to get involved. Attendees of the event will be able to choose to donate to either the (c)(3) or the (c)(4).

The famously media-shy Clinton will be out, May 3rd at Lavo New York, to promote the organization which leverages Facebook and other social media networks and tools to help LGBTQ Americans embolden their friends and family to become passionately involved in the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer legal equality in the United States; especially in the ever-popular domain of marriage. Chelsea--who will be speaking at the event--is joined for the $300 a ticket evening event by two very interesting co-chairs.

Ken Mehlman, the former chair of the Republican National Committee from 2005-2007, and Bush Presidential re-election campaign manager in 2004, came out last year as gay and caused a massive media firestorm. After having led the campaign which worked to get anti-marriage equality constitutional amendments passed in 11 states that year, Mehlman sought attonement in 2010, becoming a major fundraiser for marriage equality causes.

Mehlman is enthusiastically conservative, and worked both the 1992 George H.W. Bush reelection campaign and the 1996 Sen. Bob Dole effort to unseat Chelsea's father, President Bill Clinton. President Clinton, it should be noted, signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law after passed by both houses of Congress in 1996.

David Mixner, on the other hand, worked closely with the 1992 campaign to elect as President, then-former Arkansas Governor, Bill Clinton. Having had the experience of being turned down as a fundraiser for Michael Dukakis in 1988 for fear of being associated with the LGBTQ community, Mixner was warmly welcomed into the Clinton campaign, and was historically invited to the executive committee, as the first openly gay person to work such a capacity in a Presidential campaign.

Mixner's relationship with President Clinton, however, turned sour after David took to Nightline to complain about the Administration's unwillingness to work with the LGBTQ community on repeal of the ban on service by openly gay and lesbian military personnel. Mixner was arrested in an anti-'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' White House protest, and ended his relationship with the White House for the remainder of the Clintons' eight years at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

So it seems reasonable to say we'd never see the three of these together in the same room, let alone chairing the same event. However, Clinton, Mehlman and Mixner will be joined by Susan Reed, Josh Blumenfeld, Greg Zaffiro to help celebrate the work of this organization building strength and passion in the straight-ally community.

I'd love to be at this Friendfactor event myself to see how these three get along. Anyone in New York City want to take me?

Photo credit: Perry Bindleglass, Wikipedia & Bilerico Media.


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I hope I can find a way to be there!

You can't imagine stranger bedfellows.

You're probably right. But I don't think I want to either!

Stranger bedfellows: Al Sharpton, Michelle Bachmann, and Richard Dawkins. Call me when a social networking site launches with those three. :)

After meeting with FriendFactor's organizers last spring, all I can stress is how much I love their ambition, as well as their sensibility. Tacitly reaching out to straight allies was an overdue initiative. There may be no better way to put the focus on this being a basic civil rights issue instead of a left/right issue. Who knows, maybe it will even encourage old-school libertarian-minded Republicans to stick up for what's just.