Can Mehlman ever redeem himself?

Ken Mehlman’s coming out last week elicited a ho-hum from the mainstream press but from the LGBT community, his long overdue admission resulted in a fierce and bitter backlash.

This is understandable. As campaign manager for President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, Mehlman was instrumental in exploiting same-sex marriage as a wedge issue. As head of the Republican National Committee from 2005 to 2007, he advocated the Bush administration’s push for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

His actions caused immense suffering for many of us. As Wayne Besen, Founder of Truth Wins Out wrote:

Mehlman cannot deny that his abhorrent actions negatively affected the paths of so many other people. His odious work led to broken families, gay teenagers commuting suicide, LGBT couples who were not able to marry, broken people joining silly “ex-gay” programs and individuals who lost their jobs or were hate crime victims.

Mehlman is trying to redeem himself by raising funds for American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization responsible for the federal lawsuit challenging California’s ban on same-sex marriage. He boasts that he has helped raise $750,000 to date. But is this enough?

Many lesbian and gay couples will undoubtedly benefit from the legalization of same-sex marriages but what about those among us who are more concerned about finding good jobs and keeping the ones we do have? What about those among us who are immigrants or have partners and spouses who are non-citizens? What about queer individuals our own community marginalizes?

Will Ken Mehlman use the connections and power he amassed in exchange for our rights to raise money and fight for all LGBTs and other groups who are not as privileged?

Now that he himself is a minority, will Mehlman have empathy and compassion for other minorities?

I do not know the man personally and only time will tell. I do hope however now that he has unburdened himself by coming out at nary a cost but much gain and has secured for himself a very comfortable place in society, that he would start thinking about other people.

If he does use his gain for the benefit of those among us who are not as lucky and clever, then there might be redemption yet. Otherwise, it will confirm what some of us are thinking that it has been all about Ken.

You can follow me on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.


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