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Ken Mehlman: 'I am Sorry' for Harming Gay People During 2004 Bush Campaign

In an article in Salon, former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman apologizes for the first time for harm done to gays in his 2004 position as campaign manager for President Bush, in which conservative voters were strategically driven to the polls by anti-gay ballot measures. While Mehlman has previously expressed regret that he hadn't come out earlier and been able to influence his party in ways beneficial to it and the gay community, this is the first time he has directly apologized for his efforts in 2004.

Says Mehlman: Mehlman

“At a personal level, I wish I had spoken out against the effort,” he says. “As I’ve been involved in the fight for marriage equality, one of the things I’ve learned is how many people were harmed by the campaigns in which I was involved. I apologize to them and tell them I am sorry. While there have been recent victories, this could still be a long struggle in which there will be setbacks, and I’ll do my part to be helpful.”

Salon adds:

In 2011, Mehlman personally lobbied 13 New York state Republican legislators to help pass the state’s same-sex marriage law, and did the same with 10 Republican U.S. senators during the congressional battle to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Although he is still a loyal Republican — he recently contributed to a fundraiser for House Speaker John Boehner, a gay marriage opponent — a month ago Mehlman published an Op-Ed in the conservative Manchester Union-Leader in which he explained to conservatives and Republicans why supporting same-sex marriage venerates their beliefs not only in individual and economic freedoms, but personal responsibility and family values.

Mehlman was also reportedly lobbying behind-the-scenes on marriage equality measures in New Hampshire and Maryland.

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  1. I live on Ohio and because of you and other arrogant dicks like you we are stuck with a constiutional admendment banning not only same sex marriage but civil unions. Apology NOT accepted !!

    Posted by: Don | Mar 2, 2012 8:43:14 AM

  2. Melhman should organize public (televised) debates with people from NOM and organizations alike. He started this, he can take one for the team and be the face of marriage equality to those close-minded, conservative people. Plus, I am sure he still has powerful connections that can help us with marriage equality

    Posted by: Chris in Irvine | Mar 2, 2012 8:46:40 AM

  3. "I'm sorry" is what you say when you accidentally step on someone's foot, not when you are a main character in the proliferation of hate nationwide for years.

    Rather than do his part to be helpful in the struggle for marriage equality, this should be his life's purpose from the day he left the RNC. That would be doing his part.

    As one of the millions who were personally "harmed" by his actions, I'm not seeing the contrition I think deserving of what he did.

    Posted by: Ken | Mar 2, 2012 8:49:50 AM

  4. If he truly wants to wipe that stain clean he should be as visible as he can, not just lobbying behind the scenes. He needs to help those republicans who defied party policy and voted for marriage equality, using his influence to make sure they do not lose their seats.He needs to distance himself from people like the weeper of the house, he can and should continue to try and educate republicans who are on the fence but, no money, no support, no endorsements for those who are rabidly anti-equality. Call it atonement, call it making amends, call it reparations, if he desires to lose the label of the gay Quisling he better get to work. Fast.

    Posted by: Paul in Charleston | Mar 2, 2012 8:52:19 AM

  5. Go to Hell, Ken. If you're really sorry, how about giving all that money you made in the process to LGBT youth organizations?

    Posted by: gaylib | Mar 2, 2012 8:52:40 AM

  6. This turd is now campaigning for Boehner, who is fighting for the Defense of Marriage Act.

    Posted by: homer | Mar 2, 2012 8:56:34 AM

  7. Um.... “As I’ve been involved in the fight for marriage equality, one of the things I’ve learned is how many people were harmed by the campaigns in which I was involved."? Really? His JOB was to know exactly how many people he was harming. Sorry, but he doesn't get a pass from me. I hope, ultimately, he ends up alone as a just reward for his actions. You reap what you sow, and anyone who partners up with someone like this pig is a loser.

    Posted by: Joey Y | Mar 2, 2012 9:04:55 AM

  8. Judas of the gays.

    Posted by: architectinberlin | Mar 2, 2012 9:05:00 AM

  9. I don't think he even realizes how much damage he did. It's actually probably incalculable. It's not just about a set of terrible laws that got enacted. It's about a whole anti-gay culture and mindset that he helped encourage. We - and he - can probably never know the actual extent of the injuries that were inflicted. With that in mind, an apology and some lobbying will never be enough.

    Also, he's a smart guy and I don't buy that he could not have known what he was doing. He knew. He just didn't care. And now he's "sorry." I'll say he's sorry. Sorry and pathetic.

    Posted by: RyanInSacto | Mar 2, 2012 9:05:34 AM

  10. To date, Fox News has never mentioned that Mehlman is gay. Why doesn't he go on one of their programs (I have a feeling he just might know someone there) and work to dispel all the antigay myths they spread? Why doesn't he do something, anything that doesn't make more money for him and his "conservative" pals? But that'll be the day. If he doesn't want to do something constructive, why doesn't he at least have the good grace to shut up and go away?

    Posted by: jomicur | Mar 2, 2012 9:11:10 AM

  11. Ah, working for Boehner -- that's all I needed to know. If this scumbag wanted to make reparations for the incredible harm he has done, why would he still be working to continue the harm?

    Posted by: kit | Mar 2, 2012 9:13:24 AM

  12. This human excrement is now working with Boehner to get a FEDERAL MARRIAGE AMENDMENT passed that would BAN MARRIAGE EQUALITY in the US CONSTITUTION. He's a two-faced piece of human garbage who says one things while doing the complete opposite. God knows how many STATE constitutional bans were enacted because of this man and the number of lives, like mine, who were affected in as much as we will NEVER be able to be married or have our marriages recognized on our home states. This man is SATANIC in his capacity and willingness to throw his own kind under the bus for personal gain. He's an American Hitler.

    Posted by: Johnson | Mar 2, 2012 9:21:14 AM

  13. Too little, too late, Quisling.

    Posted by: evan | Mar 2, 2012 9:24:16 AM

  14. My feeling on Mehlman has always been, well, if he wants to work for marriage equality now, from within the Republican party, more power to him. Doesn't erase his history and does make me glad I'm not friends with the d**chebag. Whether he's sorry or not is irrelevant to me.

    But, whatever reparations he's trying to do are overshadowed by his financial support of Boehner!!!! Boehner, who's leading the charge to defend DOMA since the Obama DOJ has stopped defending it. Anyone who supports the head DOMA cheerleader hasn't learned from his past mistakes, he's repeating them!

    Stop apologizing, Ken, and start keeping your wallet in your pants around bigots.

    Posted by: Ernie | Mar 2, 2012 9:33:17 AM

  15. He's a typical sociopathic high level political operative, lobbyist, executive, etc.

    And many hardcore ideologs are malignant narcissists-sociopaths-psychopaths who use an ideology or 'cause' to feed their personality disorder/illness.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Mar 2, 2012 9:36:49 AM

  16. Work for another ten lifetimes and maybe you'll have made up for the damage you helped cause, the lives you helped destroy, the culture of anti gay hatred and laws and amendments you set into motion. You still won't have my forgiveness. Ever. And since your campaigning for Boehner, ...... Sorry, just writing and thinking about this makes me shake and see red. Go to hell Ken.

    Posted by: Michaelandfred | Mar 2, 2012 9:41:41 AM

  17. Despite his past, he has done far more in the last few years to actually pass legislation than any of you blowhards have in your entire lives. Without him and other gay Republicans having lobbied hard behind the scenes, DADT would still be in place--probably for at least another decade--and same-sex marriage would still be illegal in New York.

    The problem with so many of you people is that you just don't understand how politics works; it is about making connections, getting people in the mainstream to respect you, and using the position and influence you acquire to make change happen.....and yes, bipartisanship is critical in that regard.

    You get absolutely nowhere by glitter-bombing, prancing around in public in leather jockstraps, calling people names and insulting them, insisting on absolute ideological purity, pushing ridiculous ideas like "gender-non-conformity" that will never have a place in the mainstream, rallying behind clowns like Lady Gaga......and generally, doing everything you can to alienate most of the population.....and making yourselves into automatons of the Far Left and slaves to one political party (which leads to being taken for granted and powerlessness).

    Earth to Blowhards: America and the world does not and never will buy into your radical agenda, so if you want to see any real progress at all, you would do well to shut up and stay home and let people like Mehlman, who are actually respected in the world by people who actually matter, do what they need to do to bring about change.....

    Posted by: Rick | Mar 2, 2012 10:19:48 AM

  18. No Pass offered, he knew what he was doing; there was no mystery.

    Posted by: Kile Ozier | Mar 2, 2012 10:20:50 AM

  19. Of course Rick would login to his AOL dial-up account from his bedroom in his mom's basement to make his standard contrarian statement. Hi Rick! We've noticed you. Now go upstairs and ask your mom for a snack.

    Posted by: Ryaninsacto | Mar 2, 2012 10:32:19 AM

  20. "God knows how many STATE constitutional bans were enacted because of this man and the number of lives, like mine, who were affected in as much as we will NEVER be able to be married or have our marriages recognized on our home states"

    Right, it was all the doing of one man. One single man. And if that man had not existed, Ohioans and others would have voted entirely differently and would have demonstrated their unambigous and deeply-felt passion in favor of same-sex marriage.


    And if passage of same-sex marriage in the New York Legislature and repeal of DADT had just been left to the loud-mouthed, rainbow-flag-waving blowhards, we would have won by huge margins rather than the narrow margins we did.

    Posted by: Rick | Mar 2, 2012 10:34:43 AM

  21. He's sorry that the closet is no longer viable.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Mar 2, 2012 10:41:01 AM

  22. If he's currently supporting Boehner, his apology doesn't mean squat.

    Posted by: Mona | Mar 2, 2012 10:48:21 AM

  23. RYAN IN SACTO - Well-played, Sir!

    Posted by: TJ | Mar 2, 2012 10:48:51 AM

  24. Sorry, Ken, apology NOT accepted. You're still supporting John Boehner, one of the most virulent homophobes who wants DOMA defended. Have you no shame or decency?

    People seem to think he alone managed to get 4 republicans to vote for marriage equality in our state. He wasn't the only one, in fact two people far more influential and powerful, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. Cuomo who did far more.

    Posted by: Robert in NYC | Mar 2, 2012 10:51:24 AM

  25. My experience with people without a moral compass is that their apologies are hollow and EVERYTHING is done as a strategic move. There is no moral compass inside them. They are incapable of having any sense whatsoever of wether something is right or wrong. They only interests they can possibly conceive of in the world is their own personal immediate selfish interests. This is my impression of Mr. Mehlman. The likelihood that a person who has been so intentionally destructive of the lives of gay people in the past will suddenly (or ever!) develop a conscience is nil.

    Posted by: Dan CobbD | Mar 2, 2012 10:52:31 AM

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