Don’t Bring Up Ken Mehlman’s Anti-Gay Past When He’s Enjoying A Victory Cocktail

Even though Ken Mehlman helped lobby for New York marriage equality, not everyone has forgiven former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman for all his anti-gay work in the 2004 elections. But activist Jon Winkleman learned not to bring that old stuff up when Kenny’s enjoying a Stonewall saketini with his pals after the NY marriage victory. Mention Ken’s past and his goons will shut you out. So why did Winkleman bother?

Winkleman explains:

Last night I went to the Marriage Victory celebration outside and inside the Stonewall Bar on Christopher Street. Incredible party! I joined some friends from Stonewall Dems NYC at the much less crowded bar next door “Kettle of Fish.” Who should happen to be there celebrating the victory? None other than Bush 43’s campaign manager and former RNC chair Ken Mehlman who presided over the most viciously anti-LGBT national campaigns in the county’s history. Mehlman came out AFTER he left the RNC, made his money and got a well paying gig at a Republican run investment firm. Legitimately he did make many calls to Congressional and NY State Republicans to both overturn DADTY and pass NY Marriage. However unlike a David Brock, Mehlman continues to support right wing conservatives who hurt us. Mehlman does not talk directly about the vicious gay-baiting campaigns he was in charge of. He also claims to have come out and accepted himself after he left the RNC though it was common knowledge in the beltway he was gay in his personal life during his whole RNC tenure. The anti-LGBT fervor of these wedge issue campaigns stirred up innate bigotry and encouraged bigots to act out. This lead to a big spike anti-LGBT hate crimes. My friend Stephen in Louisiana had his home and property vandalized during LA’s statewide campaign for an anti-LGBT marriage amendment. Blood was literally shed because of Mehlman’s actions.

So even though I will acknowledge he did help in this year’s campaign to pass marriage, I really needed to say something. And caught a short bit on video.

As you can see he wants to pretend it didn’t happen. His friend shuffled me away and claimed Mehlman “Did more than anybody” on NY marriage. I brought up the spike in anti-LGBT physical violence Mehlman incited and the horrible people he put in office and they just apologized for him and painted him to be a hero that no one has a just reason to be angry of.

Short, not great quality, not overly dramatic but I am glad it happened.

I can’t lie. I’m glad Kenneth is trying to make amends by getting shitty Republicans to stop voting against us and maybe if he keeps up his good behavior I’ll forgive him by 2020, but in the meanwhile I’m still on the side of fuck him. But that’s just me… I hold grudges. Color me immature.

I also agree with Michael Rogers—I’ll forgive K-Mehl once he apologizes for all his wrongdoing and donates a huge chuck of the money he made doing it back into the queer organizations he helped harm.

He helped a lot of gay people get harassed. Until he gives up his blood money, I say harass him all you like in public.

Via Towleroad

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #politics #jonwinkleman #kenmehlman stories and more


  • iantombower

    It seems that all that is needed nowadays to change history is to say or act like it never happened.

  • Politically Incorrect Thug

    “Blood was shed because of Mehlman’s actions.”

    Really? He’s the one responsible? Just because his name was in the shuffle is a reason to blame the man for death and injury caused by others? Such backwards logic — that’s like saying Harvey Milk was responsible for the White Night Riots because he shouldn’t have gone and gotten himself murdered by that cagey Dan White.

  • Interesting

    @iantombower: Yes, they can count on people to just go along with it. That’s the entire west right now, whetehr the US or any other country. The elites rule through our accepting their bullshit. They know they can deny it or wait any criticism out.

  • Jay

    Wow – this posting was real garbage. Do you have the same feelings towards all the folks who voted against gay marriage in 2009 but now put their efforts into passing it? While you may have issues with Ken Mehlman’s past – put in an op-ed…but to confront him during a celebration is just rude. that was pretty low. ken mehlman should be congratulated

  • Spike

    @iantombower: Agreed and certainly the republican approach to everything, which ironically, he is/was.

  • Interesting

    His “past” includes donating money to anti-gay politicians after coming out.

  • gregger

    Not feeding the Troll.

  • Mike in Asheville

    @Jay: Not against the general public, we need all those changing their minds to support equality. Fine.

    BUT Mehlman, like Bill Clinton’s stooge Richard Socarides, are two big fucking KAPOs — stuck it to the gay community when they worked in the White House to further their and their boss’ political gains at the expense of our rights.

    Fine Mehlman, and Socarides, helped to push for marriage equality in NY. Does not change who they were in the past.

    Per President Kennedy: Forgive your enemies but never forget their names.

  • disco lives

    Ken spent over a decade working against us, so it will take at least a decade for me to forgive him.

    After all, the gay establishment in New York refused to forgive Harold Ford Jr for voting for the Federal Marriage Amendment while he was a congressman from the conservative state of Tennesee.

    Actually, despite Ford’s vote, Re-thug-licans in Tennessee still managed to accuse him of supporting gay marriage during his Senate run in 2006, with a wink and nod from national GOP chair Ken Mehlman…who even said the shocking “Harold, call me” ad with the winking white woman wasn’t racist.

  • tjr101

    How does Ken Mehlman live with himself having presided over the most vicious attacks on gay American’s lives in the last 10 years? Oh right, he sleeps like a baby. Douche!

  • Jaroslaw

    #2 PIT – alright, Mehlman is not directly responsible for deaths. But what does it mean to be in a position of power and authority? Nothing bad sticks but everything good is that person’s doing? Mehlman very directly in a major way created the atmosphere leading to these problems. Him alone? No, but he has his responsibility. Did you miss the part where his friend Stephen’s house was vandalized during the constitutional ban Gay marriage push? Lousiana’s bigots felt empowered to act. Or did the state just suddenly become more anti-gay?

  • Craig


    You’re kidding right? Mehlman didn’t just vote against gay marriage. He used anti-gay hate to win elections. He fomented hatred for gays to reward himself financially and professionally. The legacy of his actions are laws around the country that block gays from marriage, civil unions, or other kinds of protection from discrimination.

  • Jeffrey Drummond

    @Craig is exactly right. Mehlman created the anti-gay campaigns for Bush’s benefit. Remember that Mehlman personally created and supervised the secret polling and focus groups to find the most effective way to stir up anti-gay sentiment. When he decided that gay marriage was the right issue, he led the national demonization campaign that has hurt LGBTs in so many ways for so many years.

    now he throws around blood money to sanitize himself.

    would same-sex marriage even have been a rallying cry for the haters, and a successful tool for the republicans, and a battle for years past and future, if he had not done what he did? I think not.

    when he has spent the next 10 years fighting full-time for the LGBT community, and donating and spending as much of his money as the Bush campaign money that Mehlman spent, then we may talk about letting his past fade.

    Oh, if only Larry Kramer had been at that bar to throw a drink in his face!

    Like child sexual abuse: the next morning everyone pretends it never happened. As the great Alice Miller titled her book, “Thou Shalt Not Be Aware.” Ken Mehlman is that abuser. LGBT’s must never forget.

    Jeffrey Drummond

  • B

    No. 12 · Craig wrote, “@Jay: You’re kidding right? Mehlman didn’t just vote against gay marriage. He used anti-gay hate to win elections. He fomented hatred for gays to reward himself financially and professionally. The legacy of his actions are laws around the country that block gays from marriage, civil unions, or other kinds of protection from discrimination.”

    The person behind the anti-gay campaign was Karl Rove. What did Mehlman do beyond supporting Republican candidates and not directly opposing Rove, who was the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the room? On previous discussions, when I asked what fraction of Mehlman’s workday was spent on anti-gay activities, I got some hostile replies but no numbers, which tells us something about how people are reacting – emotionally, not rationally. I suspect that Mehlman simply didn’t try to oppose Rove, possibly figuring he would lose his job without having any impact on Rove’s strategy. Regardless, what’s missing from the discussion is any description of precisely what anti-gay activities Mehlman was directly involved in: being a figurehead/fundraiser while Karl Rove controls what is actually going on is not a direct involvement. Similarly, there’s a difference between a closeted senator who does nothing to stop anti-gay legislation and a closeted senator who drafts anti-gay legislation and lobbies other senators to get it passed. The latter is far worse.

  • Riker

    @Craig: So, anybody who benefitted from that campaign is culpable? How about the janitors who clean out RNC offices? Sound technicians who worked on the TV commercials? Teamsters who shipped supplies used for the campaign? Home Depot employees who sold the spray paint used to vandalize property?

    There’s hate on both sides, and it has to stop somewhere. Why not let it be us who starts the forgiveness?

  • tjr101

    @Riker: You are being disingenuous, Mehlman was not at the position of a “janitor” he ran the fu#king campaign. He needs to own up to the damage he’s done, until then he can shoot himself for all I care.

  • Miguel

    How low can the standard of personal responsibility sink? A gay men who had a top position in a party at a time that party was fomenting hatred against gay people for political gains is a dirt bag — period.
    Mr. Winckelman’s action was perfectly justified and if anything fairly restrained.

  • Jaroslaw

    Riker – I’m not against “forgiveness” – trouble is the leopard doesn’t change his spots. Time and again these Rethugs align themselves with religious bigots, social conservatives etc. and then when the crap hits the fan they want to “apologize.” AFTER they win the election, of course.

  • Laughriotgirl

    I’m rather reminded of Matt Foreman…

  • Elloreigh

    I’ll consider forgiving Mehlman when he formally apologizes, takes full responsibility for his prior actions, significant monetary amends, and when my state finally has marriage equality, maybe in another 30-50 years – if I’m still alive.

    Until then, he can rot for all I care.

  • Gigi

    Mehlman explains it away by saying that he was on his own personal journey and he wishes that he’d made different decisions along the way. Ya think? Listen, I grew up in a small farming town in the ’80s. Gay people were ridiculed and beaten up all of the time. I get how one might want to stay closeted for fear of being ostracized or disowned by family and friends, or for fear of being physically attacked. But I made a choice to live an honest life. Only once did I say something that made me ashamed of myself. I was in my MAN IN SOCIETY class in grade 12, and someone brought up the topic of homosexuality. I was so certain that everyone was looking at me. I panicked. I said (in a voice not quite my own), “I don’t care what gay people do as long as they keep away from me!” People snickered. People smiled. I wanted to die. That was the first and last time. I didn’t date girls as a “cover” because I knew it wouldn’t be fair to them. I kept my head down and kept to myself and then, when I moved away from home to go to college, I came out to my family. They disowned me and forbade me to come home. I was estranged from them for almost 20 years. It’s been a long road to get to where I am today but I can tell you that I’m proud that I didn’t do the shitty things that Mehlman did just to save my ass. He was responsible for the repugnant, anti-gay policies of the Bush/Cheney years that destroyed the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters. Now he says a tiny “i’m sorry” and he’s partying it up like he just one of the girls. F#ck you Mehlman!

  • Darryl

    Can someone explain how Mehlman “discovered” he was gay at age 43. Can anyone honestly pretend that he wasn’t thinking about nude men the millions of times he masturbated over all those years? Why are we required to believe his superficial and absurd lies?

  • Gigi

    @Darryl: He didn’t discover anything. He knew what he was and so did the other closeted Rethugs that he was probably blowing in the bathroom. That’s what makes him such a cretin! To keep his position of power he did the bidding of the GOP and was responsible for some of the harshest attacks on the GLBT community. Now? According to him he’s changed and everyone else should just forget about his unfortunate past.

  • B

    No. 22 · Darryl wrote, “@Politically Incorrect Thug: Hello? Mehlman was the RNC Chairman. Do you know what that is?”

    Well, according to http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Republican_National_Committee#Leadership :

    “When he became RNC Chairman in 2005, Ken Mehlman listed as his goals:

    * “Enacting and articulating the party’s reform agenda.
    * “Deepening and broadening the party’s membership.
    * “Working to elect the best candidates in 2005, 2006 and 2008.
    * “Institutionalizing a grassroots focus.”

    None of his listed goals included an anti-gay agenda.

    In 2004, he managed the Bush re-election campaign. http://www.archive.org/details/gwb_mehlmanrnc has his speech to the RNC in 2004. He talked about security, the economy, education, health (prescription drug coverage for seniors), “frivolous lawsuits”, lots of nice things about Bush, not so nice things about Democrats, support for the military, abortion (short statement about legislators’ votes), class warfare, campaign reform, moveon.org “attacking” Bush, political gains for his side, poll results, praise for the RNC, more gushing praise for Bush, a quote from the poet Robert Frost, even more praise for Bush, and a vague sentence about “activist judges”. He said nothing about gays. If Mehlman was really running an anti-gay campaign rather than just failing to oppose Karl Rove, you’d think he would have made one anti-gay remark, no matter how short, in the speech shown in the link above – after all, he had nearly 18 minutes to spout.

Comments are closed.