Former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman — who led the GOP at a time when the party was backing the Federal Marriage Amendment and marriage amendments in states throughout the country to ban gay nuptials— confirmed longstanding rumors and finally came out of the closet nine years ago this week.
“It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” Mehlman said in his coming out announcement published in the Atlantic. “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.”
The announcement inspired mixed reactions, to say the least.
Gay blogger Mike Rogers, who reported in 2004 that Mehlman is gay, demanded that the former RNC chair apologize for his past actions.
“Many gay leaders will attempt to elbow themselves to the front of the line to say on cable TV how wonderful it is that Ken is now being honest with the American people,” Rogers wrote. “Perhaps you’ll read a quote in the Washington Post about how ‘every gay person is on their own personal journey and we are happy Ken has decided to be so open about his personal struggle.’ … I’ll only buy it if he is really sorry.”
Mehlman went on to join the marriage equality fight in New York, where he still resides.