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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ken Mehlman -- Can Gay Marriage Activists Forgive Him?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 3:15 PM

click to enlarge Ken Mehlman is out -- but do queer activists have it in for him?
  • Ken Mehlman is out -- but do queer activists have it in for him?
Ken Mehlman -- President George W. Bush's 2004 campaign manager and the former head of the Republican National Committee -- has announced that he is gay and will join the campaign to overturn Proposition 8. With his disclosure, Mehlman has gone from helping advance a concerted effort to legislate against gays and lesbians and exploit homophobia for political purposes to ostensibly standing in the vanguard of the gay rights movement.

What are we to make of this? More importantly, what are other activists -- as well as the countless men and women waiting for same-sex marriage to be made legal -- to make of this? Should Mehlman be welcomed into the ranks, or spurned as a craven Johnny-come-lately? We spoke to Molly McKay of Marriage Equality USA, who has this message for fellow activists: Forgive and move on. "He's done things in the past that are not the right thing," she said. "He's doing the right thing now, and that's what matters."

Said McKay, "We want people to come out, and regardless of what they've done in the past, we want them to come find and live their truth. ... We need to make sure that we, as a community, accept moments like this with grace and with compassion. He's going to have to live with himself and his actions, and that's punishment enough."

McKay said her current sense of reaction among gay-rights advocates is that "the majority are in favor of figuring out how to forgive," although "a lot of people are saying, 'The jury's still out. Let's see what he does.'"

Meanwhile, some bloggers and activists have stridently denounced Mehlman, and are now seeking to draw attention to his not-so-gay-friendly stances in the past.

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