Former McCain Campaign Manager Schmidt Says Gay Marriage a Conservative Issue

Former John McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt, a co-host of Ken Mehlman's Perry v. Schwarzenegger fundraiser in September, talks to Sam Stein at the Huffington Post about growing conservative support for marriage equality:

Schmidt "There is a strong conservative case to be made in favor of gay marriage. Marriage is an institution that strengthens and stabilizes society. It is an institution that has the capacity to bring profound joy and happiness to people and it is a matter of equality and keeping faith of one of the charters of the nation, the right to live your life. More and more conservatives are saying that opposition to gay marriage would not be a litmus test for membership in the GOP. And more conservatives are making the case that no more do you want big government conservatives in the bedroom than big government liberals telling you how to live your life."

You may recall that Schmidt made headlines in September 2008 for a speech to the Log Cabin Republicans thanking them for their support of McCain (despite McCain's slate of anti-gay positions . This was followed up by Schmidt's full-on endorsement, in April 2009, of marriage equality at a speech to the same group.

But here's something I wish someone would ask Schmidt about — this bit from a 2005 GQ profile of blogger Mike Rogers by Jake Tapper:

"'Ken Mehlman is not gay,' insists Steve Schmidt, a senior official of the Bush campaign and a friend of Mehlman's, who refers to Rogers as a 'bottom dweller.'"

One wonders what definitive (but wrong) knowledge Schmidt had to make such an assertion about Mehlman, who was working hard to destroy (with anti-gay marriage initiatives and hateful rhetoric) the cause that Schmidt now seems to be championing.


  1. david kaufman says

    Gay MARRIAGE may be a Conservative issue but actual Gay PEOPLE never will be.

    And let’s not even talk about Gay SEX!

    The Right Wing wants their Gays buttoned-up and sexless.

    Wake up folks — they are not our friends.

  2. says

    Lordy does our election system need an overhaul… every time you turn around, the politico’s are changing their minds and stances…

    First their for it, than they be against…

    Ya know what? I propose that just before elections a list of questions be given to every candidate. They have, oh say 20/30 seconds to answer each question. This get’s recorded and set up to play for any tom, dick or harry that accesses it [something set up or incorporated into a medium already existing].

    The people vote.

    And the minute the politico flip-flops or doesn’t do what they say they’ll do within a reasonable time frame… they’re fired.

    End. of. story.

    Oh, and basic human and or American civil rights? Not up for vote in the first place.

    I know. I live in fantasy land… or do I really?

  3. Brian in Texas says

    Too little too late. It’s easy to be in favor for something or take a stand when you’re no longer a leader or in power. It’s nice that they are coming out in favor now but it would have actually mattered when they were in power.

    Was the Mccain/Palin campaign in favor of gay marriage that Schmidt was the campaign manager of?

  4. says

    Just seems like the powerless members of the GOP are trying to grab some of the limelight. The ONLY reason this is mentioned in the media is to take a (reasonable) dig at Obama (i.e. the GOP is to the left of Obama on this issue…)

  5. Walter T says

    Obviously a self-serving ELITIST opportunist – we all know that these creeps have tried to take over the gay community with their money and connections (I have an ex husband who lead the Board of a well know youth gay charity … he grovels at the feet of his money bags Gay GOP benefactors and has started the by the lie of the “good gay Republican” – one big reason he is an ex).

    Guess what the rule is — NO anti-GOP comments in the organization trying to help gay youth.

    The Gay GOP are just being let loose by the good works of the liberal gays — but have no doubt they should NEVER be trusted or forgiven for who they support.

  6. deegeezee says

    having GOPers state their support for equality is all well and good… but the candidates they support are all against it.

    they’re trying to have their cake and eat it, too. i just hope the LGBT community isn’t that gullible.

  7. kansastock says

    Ok, I voted for Jerry Ford back whenever (his boys were cute), but I couldn’t afford a PR campaign to make it disappear.

    And BTW, I didn’t receive an invite to their little fundraiser. I wonder if Bravo’s A-Listers did?

  8. Chuck Mielke says

    Let’s remember that the radical right have many ulterior motives, the first of which is to get into (and stay in) power; the second of which is to dismantle the government starting with social programs and clearly liberal interests.

    If they need our support for the first agenda item, I say we need to recall their other agenda items and to remember that the party in power can change any rules they want. We could have the support of conservatives, but only until demonizing us again would become politically valuable. Surely we’ve learned this lesson — recently.

  9. Craig says

    @Roscoe. If only! The people running Jesse Helm’s library are trying to make him into a great gay civil rights leader!

    They lie even from the grave!

  10. Rowan says


    You are delusional.

    The left will NEVER be the right. Be careful of what you wish for. You would have nada, rien, nothing if the Republicans are in power. Are you to addled to realize that?

    Do you not understand that Clinton and Obama are dealing with an inherently right wing and deeply religious country??


  11. latebrosus says

    “There is a strong conservative case to be made in favor of gay marriage. Marriage is an institution that strengthens and stabilizes society. It is an institution that has the capacity to bring profound joy and happiness to people and it is a matter of equality and keeping faith of one of the charters of the nation, the right to live your life.”

    Nice. And it only took him, what, 15 years to say so?

    If there is a positive to Mehlman’s coming out, it is the proof that visibility can lead to change.

  12. Wes says

    Grabbinnewscum, I don’t care who does it, if its done its a good thing.

    But they’ll have to deal with the Christianists in their own party if thats to happen, and I can’t see that happening for a long time off.

    However some of you guys need to tone down the rhetoric. As much as I despise the GOP, Republicans are often good people, even if I don’t always agree with them, and many are not anti-gay.

  13. Wes says

    BTW, they are absolutely right about the “strong conservative case” to be made about gay marriage.

    Andrew Sullivan has been saying this for a while.

  14. Joe says

    Honestly, he sounds genuine and I’m glad he’s an ally over this issue. Hopefully he convinces more republicans to drop their anti-gay stances.

    On his interview about Ken Melhman – he probably did lie. But honestly, what friend hasn’t lied about a closeted friend before. It’s what you do. And schmidt was probably anti-gay then too (but has clearly changed his mind).

  15. Rowan says

    Grabbie, why is it ‘he he he’?

    Forgot your meds? Anyone with a brain cell realises that if you are dealing with a bunch of homophobes or think right wing people, the only way you can reach em is with their own people.

    Just like Obama with blacks or Hilary with women or Marx with the left. We follow out ideology and what will feel more then if a ‘stranger’ came and said the same things. Fact.

    So what is he, he, he?? That again, it has been proven that the right wing are better at strategy.

    You just wait if the repubs get into power how they will reverse all this gay marriage rubbish.

  16. says

    If this battle is to be won we need to see people on the other side change their minds and join us. But some people seem to think the best way to do that is to bash them when they actually do just that. That seems counterproductive to me. It also indicates that some people don’t care about gay equality as much as they care about left-wing ideology and that they would sacrifice the former for the latter.

    Given the need to shift the debate by converting opponents it seems to me that opponents who shift to our side should be seen as friends of the cause and applauded, not verbally bashed for doing so. And it seems to me that since such bashing may cause some opponents to remain opponents, and not make the shift, that the real enemies of gay equality are those who put their ideology ahead of equality of rights.

  17. says

    As Wes said, Andrew Sullivan and other gay conservatives have been making this argument for years, but it hasn’t influenced the vast majority of conservatives, who, if anything, are becoming ever more stridently anti-gay. So I welcome Steve Schmidt to continue making this case to his fellow conservatives, because he’s rational and right, but he has a long way to go given the current Republican political climate.

    As for Schmidt’s personal views on the matter, he has a lesbian sister, and he’s supporting her, proving once again that the best way to turn reasonable (the unreasonable will remain so) people pro-gay instead of anti-gay is for them to be gay themselves or love someone who is. Which makes those myriad closeted Repubs all the more disgusting. The one thing they could do to help the cause is to come out instead of causing harm from within.

  18. Bart says

    A few things struck me as I read yet another non-candidate in the GOP state taht GOP should be the place for marriage equality:

    1. They aren’t. Period. These people have as much influence in the Republican Party as your cousin’s sister’s best friend. And when they had influence, they shot us dead at point blank range, hating us because they hated themselves.

    2. The Republicans don’t want gays in their party, they want gay MONEY in their party. They don’t care about our issues, about equality. They want our money to stop flowing to Democratic candidates to Republican candidates.

    3. The Republican base is now the Tea Party crazies and the evangelicals. Both who are vehemently anti-gay.

    4. If there is a time again when there is a Republican President and a Republican majority in the House and Senate, an amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex marriage will pass.

    These non-candidates can come out of the closet in droves and all spout off how the Republican party is all for marriage equality BUT IT ISN’T TRUE. You can call a pig a princess but it’s still a pig. This whole embrace of marriage equality is straight out of the Karl Rove playbook. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Believe me, we are their enemy. If we fall for all this sudden love, it’s like dating an abusive boyfriend that we know is going to punch us in the face.

  19. Wes says

    I have to say my instincts agree with you, Bart, that much of this “claiming the mantle” of gay rights is merely capitalizing on well-publicized gay disappointment with the Democratic Party, to both drive a wedge against the opposition and maybe even leech some votes or cash if they’re lucky.

    However, it is still a positive thing to see more and more people on the side of reason and equality, and I can only hope it is a trend that will continue, at least with the more intellectual faction of the right.

  20. TANK says

    Last time I saw a mouth like that a hook was in it. yeesh!

    Scum’s the resident race baiting troll. He’s old and angry at how things turned out…and it’s too late, apparently…toooooooo late….for michael weiner.

  21. LincolnLounger says

    Oh yes, bring me more from our “fierce advocate” Obama and the long record of sucess from the Democrats. What a joke.
    Keep writing those checks to the DNC and HRC and see what it gets you. How about those huge, veto-proof Dem majorities? Nada.

    As long as the gay community is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democrat Party, we will continue to be taken for granted by the Republicans. Our gay community has no political sense.

    So nice to see those wishing for tolerance also wishing death to Republicans and swiping with the broad brush as if all Republicans are the same and all Democrats are the same.

    Ridiculous. November is a-comin’, and I can’t wait.

  22. Brains says


    Don’t be fooled. Once you have been caught by their bullshit and lies, you will become the evening meal to the christian right wing brotherhood.

    They can do the yeoman’s work to gain us equal rights, but don’t throw them your vote until they toss out the right-wing nut bags!

  23. grobby says

    Why does anyone respond to Grabbinnewscum. This racist faggot will be loyal to the rethugs. It almost gave him a heart attack to see a non-white person enter into the WHITE house…

    The rethugs are inviting you to a wonderful party that will catch your attention and once inside. You’re trapped.

    Don’t take the bait. If these motherfuckers are really accepting sans the marriage issue and tell them to fight to end D.A.D.T then you can believe these fucktards.

    In the meantime………..

  24. grobby says

    Oh and I forgot that New England Right wing lunatic for GOEmbarrassment LINCOLN LOUNGEOUT.

    Queen you better get fucking ready for Vicki Kennedy as she’s going to serve DooDoo Brown in 2012
    Bitch go have a glass riacin with a cyanide twist and lemon.

  25. TANK says

    LL’s gonna be very disappointed come november. Your party has chosen unworthy opponnents from sharron angle to the criminal rick scott (gobernatorial republican candidate in florida)…democrats will lose seats, but I doubt it’ll be majority in the house or senate. And you can take that to the bank, buster.

  26. missanthrope says

    The only reason that you’ve seen a bunch of “defections” in the Republican Party over gay marriage is because they’ve figured out that bashing gays doesn’t win elections as much as it used to.

    If more people were still hooked by this gay-baiting stuff, you’d be sure that Steve Schmidt and company would still be happily against gay marriage.

  27. joe says

    Sorry, GOP, you hated me so long in the public square, there’s no way I’m ever gong to believe you. I’m glad you’ve finally decided you were wrong, but like an abusive spouse, you’ve hurt me for so long I can never allow you to whitewash your past, no matter how nice you are to me in the future.

    Oh, and another thing, when marriage equality is allowed coast to coast, I won’t let you perpetuate the myth that it was you who gave it to us (a la your narrative about the Civil Rights movement).

Leave A Reply