Gay Marriage | Ken Mehlman | New York | News

Ken Mehlman Confronted at Bar After NY Marriage Equality Victory: VIDEO


Former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman, who The Daily Beast reported this week has exerted his fundraising influence in recent months in efforts to sway Republicans on marriage equality, was confronted at a bar by activist Jon Winkleman while celebrating the New York victory on Friday night.

Demands Winkleman: "Weren't you responsible for the FMA and all the anti-gay marriage the former head of the RNC?"

Replies Mehlman: "I'm focused on other stuff...including New York stuff now."

Winkleman scolds Mehlman before being told "good night" by his companions.

Explained Winkleman of the ambush: "I know he helped with the efforts to pass marriage in NY but he still supports those who do us harm. Also his cynical anti-LGBT campaigns at the RNC fanned the flames of hate and violent hate crimes increased in the districts they focused. LGBT people were hurt...physically, because of Mehlman's actions. So of course I had to go over and say something."


Michelangelo Signorile played audio of this clip in his radio show yesterday, and then asked callers whether the LGBT community should forgive Ken Mehlman for his past transgressions and move on, given the trajectory he now appears to be on (with the NY marriage fundraising, and also as a fundraiser for the fight against Prop 8) as an out man? Most of Signorile's callers appeared to be unforgiving, at least for now. Others disagree.

What are your thoughts?

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  1. I think someone should confront Jon Winkleman at a bar and ask why he insists on his egomaniacal one-man direct actions that only serve to embarrass himself and the rest of the LGBT community.

    I've seen him interrupt speakers at at least 6 events and record himself doing it for no other reason than to buy 15 minutes of fame on YouTube. Go ahead, have the conversations you want to have and put people on the spot if you want, but this sort of schmactivism doesn't win any friends or allies in this movement. Grow up, Jon.

    Posted by: Mike | Jun 29, 2011 10:06:08 AM

  2. Mehlman has a lot of past damage to atone for, but I do believe what the New York Times reported about his meeting with the Republican senators in the marriage fight. Many people worked made important contributions to this victory, and I believe he is one of them. Although I am not at all aligned with his conservative Republican politics, I think we have to give credit where it's due.

    Posted by: Gianpiero | Jun 29, 2011 10:07:45 AM

  3. Obnoxious stunt. Bringing people like Mehlman on board makes us much, much stronger.

    Posted by: Reader | Jun 29, 2011 10:17:15 AM

  4. Vidkun Quisling... Once you sell your soul, you're damned. I hope he enjoys his LCR parties. To quote my wise aunt, "I wouldn't piss on him even if he was on fire".

    Posted by: PapaBear | Jun 29, 2011 10:17:36 AM

  5. We forgave President Clinton for signing DOMA and DADT, right? The past is the past and an ally is an ally. And at the end of the day, we will never achieve equality if we hold grudges against those who have the courage to change their minds.

    Posted by: callmejer | Jun 29, 2011 10:18:21 AM

  6. Until we have marriage equality across the nation & ENDA - & Mehlman works directly to help get such legislation passed - he still is a gay traitor.

    Posted by: Joetx | Jun 29, 2011 10:18:32 AM

  7. If he's now useful in fundraising in support of our civil rights and possibly swaying some Republicans, whether we forgive him--or not--is sort of beside the point. He has to live with his anti-gay past and continue atoning for that as he sees fit, but it's more important to encourage his constructive work now than to focus on his past sins. I'm not sure what forgiveness or lack thereof accomplishes--his history is his history whether or not he's "forgiven" for it.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jun 29, 2011 10:19:58 AM

  8. If Mehlman continues to play a key role in the adoption of marriage equality across the country, I will forgive him but will never forget what he has done. You can tell by his defense tone in this video that he knows he betrayed the LGBT community in the past...there is no doubt about that.

    As far as I am concerned, he needs to keep earning his redemption before he is welcomed with open arms.

    Posted by: JoeInSF | Jun 29, 2011 10:20:48 AM

  9. Mehlman has a long road ahead before he can consider himself "redeemed." His cashing in on hate as a leader in the RNC enabled him to buy a safe place for him to land in Chelsea - safe no thanks to anything he did for the gay community while he was in leadership in the Republican party. Our community is entitled to make him squirm more than a little bit (if not beat the bloody daylights out of him) before he's given a pass. He got off easy with Winkleman. He's gotten off way too easy all along.

    He's got along road ahead of him before he can consider himself "redeemed." Swine.

    Posted by: Danny | Jun 29, 2011 10:21:16 AM

  10. Right on Ernie! Forgive but don't forget! Reward good, punish bad!

    Posted by: Fenrox | Jun 29, 2011 10:25:06 AM

  11. Mehlman is a traitor to his own kind. Who trusts traitors again ever--on either side?

    Posted by: Danny | Jun 29, 2011 10:26:10 AM

  12. Ditto what JoeInSF wrote.

    Posted by: MichaelJ | Jun 29, 2011 10:33:58 AM

  13. The general thrust of these comments is very heartening. As the Cuomo orchestration demonstrated, things can happen when we work together. Why not employ tolerance within our LGBT community?

    Posted by: Russell | Jun 29, 2011 10:34:13 AM

  14. Why is it that every time someone betrays us by selling us down the river that we are called upon to forgive? I don't have to forgive Mehlman and I don't intend to. He worked for George Bush for chrissakes, what in God's name is forgiveable about that?

    Posted by: Sean | Jun 29, 2011 10:34:38 AM

  15. "Everyone says 'Forgive and Forget.' Well I NEVER forgive because I NEVER forget!"
    -- Abraham Polonsky

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jun 29, 2011 10:39:04 AM

  16. He changed his mind once. He'll change it again when he senses it is politically expedient. DO. NOT. TRUST. EVER. he will sell us out for a few shiny coins when the time is right.

    Posted by: Roger Ramjet | Jun 29, 2011 10:41:56 AM

  17. No one needs to forgive him but we don't necessarily need to focus on him either. What's done is done and he's moved in the right direction.

    Posted by: Wes | Jun 29, 2011 10:43:05 AM

  18. Why would you forgive a guy who sticks a knife in your gut just because he then puts a band-aid on the wound?

    Posted by: jomicur | Jun 29, 2011 10:44:32 AM

  19. Ken would benefit from broad LGBT community support if he were to realize a “total transparency communications plan”. Ken could schedule interviews on well-known LGBT media sites, such as Michaelangelo’s show, Towleroad, etc. and describe his activities affecting the LGBT community while he was associated with the GOP. He could then clearly articulate how he is now working to advance the interests of our community and answer any questions people have about his prior work with the GOP and his current role.

    Ken is a communications and public relations professional and I imagine he is fully aware of this. Perhaps he is still bound by GOP non-disclosure agreements. If so, he can clearly state what he is and is not permitted to speak about. He also has a day-job running PR for a financial sponsor fund and he would need to vet his plan with his employer. Nonetheless, his transparency would benefit him, his career, and endow him with substantial goodwill from the LGBT community. He can “come out” a second time and, in a relaxed and professional manner, describe what he did and inform us he is fully committed to our community.

    Confronting and scolding Ken in a crowded bar with a mobile phone camera seems ridiculous.

    Posted by: Xavi | Jun 29, 2011 10:47:28 AM

  20. Question: Has Ken Mehlman actually asked for forgiveness? Has he shown contrition for his past behavior?

    I won't even consider forgiving someone who hasn't shown remorse.

    Posted by: Hank | Jun 29, 2011 10:48:45 AM

  21. What's the point of seeking redemption when you're hated either way? It only makes us look like the bigger haters when we reject the ones who are trying to redeem themselves for past mistakes. Mehlmen has put a brave foot forward by coming out, professing his mistakes and now working hard to help our cause.

    Posted by: D.R.H. | Jun 29, 2011 10:48:58 AM

  22. Jon Winkleman is an obnoxious idiot who's pissed off cause no one would marry his sorry ass.

    Posted by: Really? | Jun 29, 2011 10:56:47 AM

  23. Just a reminder that in the last election, Mehlman contributed to several anti-gay legislators across the country, calling into question the degree to which he is willing to move away from his former positions and whether he feels any remorse. For myself, I will forgive him when he has caused the (as I remember) 31 states that have enshrined anti-marriage equality into their constitutions to embrace equality.

    Posted by: silverkjk | Jun 29, 2011 11:00:50 AM

  24. >>>We forgave President Clinton for signing DOMA and DADT, right?

    Callmejer, DADT was a compromise attempt after the Clinton administration tried to fully include gays in the military and the (ahem) Democratic majority congress was vehemently opposed.

    And DOMA passed by almost 90% of Congress in 1996 when almost no one in our community thought marriage was a possibility. Was Clinton supposed to veto the bill? And did you want a constitutional amendment in instead? That also would have passed in 1996.

    If you're blaming Clinton for DOMA, don't forget Joe Biden and many other Dems voted for it.

    And DADT and DOMA pale in comparison to Mehlman, Bush, Cheney and the GOP's assault on LGBT rights, 20+ marriage amendments, not to mention two wars, a disastrous economy, millions unemployed, stripping minority voting rights, Scalia, Roberts and Ailito, etc etc

    Posted by: Dalton | Jun 29, 2011 11:11:18 AM

  25. what bar?

    Posted by: me | Jun 29, 2011 11:13:20 AM

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