Yesterday, radio host Michelangelo Signorile of SiriusXM OutQ hosted a segment in which he discussed a piece in The Daily Beast entitled "Gay Marriage's Unlikely Hero." That piece discussed the role of Ken Mehlman, former head of the RNC, now openly gay, in helping to pass marriage equality in New York. As the piece notes, however, Mehlman managed President George W. Bush's re-election drive in 2004. "Courting the evangelical Christian voting bloc so crucial to the Republican Party, Mehlman's boss campaigned on a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage."
Signorile made the point that Mehlman was responsible in important ways for a Republican strategy across the country that used gay people and anti-gay rhetoric as a stalking horse to bring out Republican votes, resulting in many state constitutional amendments across the country banning marriage equality. He also played a clip of a confrontation between Mehlman and a gay activist on the night of the New York marriage vote at the Stonewall Inn, where many people gathered to celebrate the victory. In the clip, the activist can be heard asking Mehlman whether he was the one responsible for much anti-gay legislation, to which Mehlman responds: "I've moved on to other things," and then, curtly, "good night."
The segment of Signorile's show opened the show to callers, focusing on the question of whether we should forgive Mehlman for his previous anti-gay activities in light of his recent assistance for marriage equality, and his attempts to get Republicans to support it across the country.
The callers were 10 to 1 against forgiving Mehlman for his past sins. They were very angry not only for his anti-gay acts, but, more significantly, for the anxiety they felt about their ability to be accepted in their local communities, and the angst they felt about the country itself. It was an engaging and interesting segment that sheds some light on the anger that gay people are feeling about their human rights being up for debate.
But I say we should forgive Ken Mehlman. He has turned over a new leaf. Now that he's ready to help us, we should forget the past.