Former Republican National Committee chairman and 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman has finally come out of the closet. The confirmation was made to Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic.
The interview was scheduled to run Friday but appeared tonight after being leaked by Mike Rogers, the über-blogger known for outing closeted anti-gay politicians such as Larry Craig. Rogers was featured in Kirby Dick's documentary Outrage, which recently aired on HBO.
"It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life. Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that's made me a happier and better person. It's something I wish I had done years ago."
Mehlman claims that he "tried" to prevent Bush and political strategist Karl Rove from demonizing gay rights:
"Privately, in off-the-record conversations with this reporter over the years, Mehlman voiced support for civil unions and told of how, in private discussion with senior Republican officials, he beat back efforts to attack same-sex marriage. He insisted, too, that President Bush "was no homophobe." He often wondered why gay voters never formed common cause with Republican opponents of Islamic jihad, which he called "the greatest anti-gay force in the world right now."
Mehlman also says he was "aware" that Rove worked with state GOP operatives to ensure anti-gay initiatives would appear on the ballots in 2004, when he was Bush-Cheney campaign manager ... and in 2006 when he served as the Republican National Chair.
Mehlman has previously and publicly denied being gay. In November 2006, you may remember a segment of CNN's Larry King Live when comedian Bill Maher outed Mehlman. CNN quickly edited the transcript and West Coast feed, removing any reference to Mehlman. The video was also removed from YouTube. The very next day, Mehlman resigned from the RNC.
Mike Rogers confronted Mehlman on video in 2006 about the "many confusing answers" about his sexuality. Rogers responded to today's coming out admission by Mehlman—who recently bought a $4 million loft in New York City's Chelsea gayborhood—by awarding him a "Roy Cohn Award" for "managing the most anti-gay presidential campaigns in history." Said Rogers: "Ken Mehlman is horridly homophobic and no matter how orchestrated his coming out is, our community should hold him accountable for his past."