Out magazine has been teasing the names on the 2011 OUT 100 and today announced that Ken Mehlman was among the honorees. That’s kind of surprising considering he was one of the architects of Bush/Cheney’s 2004 election campaign, was chairman of the Republican National Committee and generally spent years as a closet case helping to strangle LGBT rights.
Even Mehlman realizes he’s pissed off a lot of people. Peep this passage from his coming-out feature in The Atlantic:
Mehlman acknowledges that if he had publicly declared his sexuality sooner, he might have played a role in keeping the party from pushing an anti-gay agenda.
“It’s a legitimate question and one I understand,” Mehlman said. “I can’t change the fact that I wasn’t in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally.” He asks of those who doubt his sincerity: “If they can’t offer support, at least offer understanding.”
“What I do regret, and think a lot about, is that one of the things I talked a lot about in politics was how I tried to expand the party into neighborhoods where the message wasn’t always heard. I didn’t do this in the gay community at all.”
After Mehlman came out (a revelation that shocked no one in DC) in 2010, he tried to atone for his past transgression by lobbying and fundraising for marriage equality in New York. To his credit, Mehlman’s GOP connections enabled him to bend the ears of conservative politicians others couldn’t reach.
Of course, Mehlman wasn’t too modest to take some of the credit when the Empire State got marriage equality this year. “For a state as big and iconic as New York to be able to have accomplished marriage equality with a bipartisan approach was a momentous event,” he says in his profile, “and one I was honored to play a small part in.”
Is this like Time‘s “Man of the Year,” where it’s not necessarily a good person, just someone influential? Judging from the magazine’s explanation that the list is “our annual salute to the year’s most inspiring people,” we’d have to say no.
Look, we appreciate that Mehlman is on the side of the angels now, but that doesn’t even begin to make up for his working for the Devil just a few years ago.
We’re not saying the guy should be strung up, but do we have to give him a friggin’ award?
We have friends who drove vans of activists to lobby Albany for same-sex marriage—more than once. Can we assume they’ll be on next year’s list?