side effects of the drug

Ken Mehlman discussed marriage in a recent video answering the question, what is the single best way to get Republicans to support marriage equality? See below for the video, as well as a full transcript.

 

Transcript:

What is the single best way to get Republicans to support marriage equality?
Ken Mehlman: It’s interesting. As I’ve thought about this and as I’ve learned from a lot of people who have worked on this for many years and who are professionals at it. I really think it’s best to think about this not in terms of Republicans or Democrats or Independents, but what’s the best way for people to become supportive of marriage equality. In my experience at least, the best way is to have a conversation with them. The best way and the most important way is for them to know someone in their lives, whether it’s a friend or a relative who happens to be gay. And to have that person make the case and explain why they think that civil marriage available under the law ought to be a right, and ought to be something that’s available to them. I have found that to be the best and most effective way. Obviously, it’s important I think it’s important to make the case from all ideological perspectives, and as we’ll talk about in this interview, I’ve tried to explain why as a conservative, as someone who believes freedom, as someone who believes in family values, or as someone who believes in the golden rule, civil marriage makes sense.
What do you think is the most reasonable case against gay marriage that is made by its opponents?
Kenneth Mehlman: I’ve had a lot of conversations with friends who I have a lot of respect for who don’t agree with me on the issue. What I hear from them are a couple of things.
First, sometimes folks talk about the importance of protecting religious freedom and the sacrament of marriage, and I think that it’s very important from my perspective and those of us who believe both in the right to marriage but also in religious freedom, to be clear that we’re talking about civil marriage. We’re talking about the government, the state simply providing people with a license for civil marriage. It’s up to each religious tradition to decide how to define it. The home I was raised in, my parents were a member of a Jewish congregation and our synagogue was a conservative synagogue. Conservative Judaism recognizes marriage equality, as does Reform Judaism. Other branches of Judaism might not, and everyone ought to have that right. There’s room enough in society for all of us to have different views on this, but one thing is clear, the law should treat everyone the same.
Secondly, you sometimes hear people talk about tradition. They say that they were raised with marriage as between a man and a woman. The President said that, for example in explaining his evolution. To those people, what I try to do is ask them what they think marriage is really about. And to me, what it’s about is two individuals who love each other, who want to spend their lives committing to each other. So that they take care of each other when they’re sick, or when they’re old, and so that the people in their world or community share that commitment and help them out through tough times. I think that goal is something that ought to be available to people whether they’re straight or gay. And for society, if you believe as I do in family values, if you believe in shared commitment and responsibility. If you believe that our society is better off when that happens, more stable, then it seems to me that allowing civil marriage to both gay and straight couples makes a whole lot of sense, and that’s how you answer that particular concern.

“Making the case from a conservative values perspective is an imperative, not an option” Ken Mehlman stated in his recent OUT Magazine article. Mehlman sat down with Aaron Hicklin for a question and answer interview on DOMA, marriage equality, and more.

When asked if he was surprised by the results in California, he responded no. “Based on the conversations I’d had with Ted Olsen and David Boies from AFER, which is a board I serve on, and also I’d gotten to know Robbie [Roberta] Kaplan [the lawyer for Edie Windsor]. Although no one can predict the court, it was possible to imagine this result based on the hearings earlier this year. If you read Justin Kennedy’s opinion, and I take him at his word, he looked at that law [DOMA], read the legislative history of the law, and concluded that the law should be overturned.”

Ken Mehlman doesn’t think there will be any Republican backlash. “If you look at the history of marriage from the beginning, what you see is that after states pass civil marriage, support invariably grows across party lines.” He gives Massachusetts and New Hampshire as examples. Both of these states passed marriage equality laws. Although there were fewer Republicans, “…ultimately Republicans and Democrats came around to embrace gay marriage.”

Is the battle for gay marriage won? He doesn’t think so, but there has been progress. He shares the alarming statistic that 29 states still allow people to be fired due to their sexual orientation. 73 percent of Republican voters believe someone should not be able to be fired for this reason, and about 55 percent of Americans favor marriage equality. 30 percent of America live somewhere with marriage equality, but there are still 37 states that don’t allow it.

What role does Ken Mehlman plan to play in the fight to have marriage equality for all? “What I will do, and keep doing, is to listen to the experts and professionals, from people like Chad Griffin to Evan Wolfson and Matt Coles, and others. I do think when you look at these places where there are no legal protections, making the case from a conservative values perspective is an imperative, not an option, so I hope to be helpful from that perspective.“

He also shares the role that the media has played. He finds the single most important role to be that of ordinary people coming out and sharing their stories. “The role everyone has in simply coming out and telling their story to their family and their friends and their colleagues. There are so many examples, every day. What was so compelling about these cases was Edie’s story and Edie’s example. We all have the power to tell stories, and the media can magnify that. It’s also important for kids who are growing up—who want to grow up in a nation where they have equal rights under the law.”

What’s next for marriage equality? “There’s obviously a lot of clean-up that will happen now that DOMA has been repealed, from tax equity issues to immigration, and those are things that need to be reviewed. There’s been a lot of progress in the past on safe schools and making sure that bullying is addressed. Governor Christie in New Jersey, and in Maine, Governor LePage, have signed very robust laws making sure that every child is safe in school. Those can be a model for other states.”

Ken ends the interview with these words, “Everyone comes from a different ideological perspective, and we should use our way of thinking and our particular relationships to make the case for equality.”

Ken Mehlman, a private equity executive in Manhattan is working to convince Republicans that gay marriage is consistent with conservative values.

Coming out “has been a little bit like the Tom Sawyer funeral, where you show up at your own funeral and you hear what people really think,” Mehlman stated in a recent interview at his KKR office. “A big part of one’s brain that used to worry about this issue has now been freed to worry about things that are much more productive.” With all this free time, Ken has worked all over to help legalize marriage equality.

“I have a happy life today, and I had a happy life before,” Ken Mehlman said.

John Aravosis, a gay blogger talked about how coming out is difficult, and “If you’re going to have an epiphany, do it like Mehlman.”

He has worked with the White House and President Obama, who was a classmate at Harvard Law School to help repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He has worked with Republican Ohio Senator Rob Portman and recruited Republican donors, helping to raise $4.5 million for gay causes and anti-bullying.

In Maine in 2009, voters were against same-sex marriage. Last year, Ken Mehlman helped to change up their advertising. They ended up winning. “He brought a totally fresh perspective that nobody else had, and because he was so prominent, people had to take note,” said Matt McTighe, who managed the Maine effort.

“This is not just any Republican — this is one of the single greatest successful strategists for Republicans,” Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign said of Ken Mehlman. “And now he’s on our side.”

 

 

On April 22, 2013 Ken Mehlman published an op-ed on USA Today about the future of the Republican Party. With the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center this week, he states an important reminder, “We can win the votes of non-whites, but only if we try. President George W. Bush won an historic share of Hispanic voters and grew African- and Asian-American support by acknowledging the different and often difficult experiences of many minorities, while pursuing policies that recognized the universal appeal of freedom and opportunity. “ He believes that Republicans need to take this approach again.

 

Ken Mehlman explains that President Bush’s growth in non-white support was good for public policy and he understood that “family values doesn’t stop at the Rio Grande,” while promoting a new immigration policy. While President Bush was in office, the nation helped the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which again shows the compassion he had for non-white communities who are in suffering. President Bush also increased funding for programs that supported the recovery of more than 200,000 substance abuse addicts, helped transition 50,000 homeless people into a place to live, and provided over 100,000 children with parents in jail with supportive mentors. This is another example of how he worked to strengthen civil society.

 

Ken Mehlman ended his piece explain that, “While there are many strategies our party must deploy as we work to appeal to a changing American electorate, it all comes down to the advice of the late Jack Kemp, the modern father of ‘compassionate conservatism’: people don’t care that you know unless they know that you care. As Republicans look towards the future, policies that speak to the common dreams that unite Americans from all background are worth remembers and in many cases emulating.”

Ken Mehlman recently talked to the Huffington Post about the GOP evolution on gay marriage acceptance. “I think that most of the signers of the [amicus curiae] brief, like other Americans who have increasingly embraced the freedom to marry, are most impacted by what they see in their own lives,” Ken Mehlman stated. “That’s how change so often occurs — people reflecting on their core values and also their experiences. And as people consider the importance of marriage to their own lives, they recognize how fundamental this right is. As they come to fully know their gay friends and relatives and neighbors and teammates, they don’t think it’s fair or consistent with conservative values to deny them this basic right.”

 

The former RNC Chairman has been very outspoken about his views on same-sex marriage and continues to work with his organization, Project Right Side, to get more conservative support for gay marriage. “Conservatives don’t need to change core convictions to embrace the growing support for equal rights for gay Americans,” Ken Mehlman wrote in a 2012 Wall Street Journal op-ed. “It is sufficient to recognize the inherent conservatism in citizens’ desire to marry, to be judged on their work, and not to be singled out for higher taxes or bullying at school. These objectives can be achieved while also protecting religious liberty, as demonstrated by states enacting civil marriage with exemptions for religious institutions.”

Kenneth Mehlman was interviewed last week by Thomas Roberts on MSNBC and discussed the marriage equality cases pending at the Supreme Court.  He discussed his own experience at the hearings, his experience on the board of AFER, and the cautiousness of the justices on the Supreme Court.  Ken Mehlman pulled on his own experience as a lawyer to answer questions about how the legal case is being presented and what might happen in the next couple weeks.

Watch the entire piece, and read the first part of the interview below.


Video transcript:

Thomas Roberts: And our special guest at the top of the hour, former RNC Chairman Ken, Mehlman, Richard Socarides former president of Equality Matters, and openly gay Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline. Gentlemen, great to have you hear, but I want to start with our exclusive interview with Ken Mehlman, former RNC Chair, former campaign manager for George W. Bush’s ’04 campaign. And Ken you publically came out in 2010.

Ken Mehlman: I did.

Thomas Roberts: It’s been written about you, that you are the highest profile gay republican in American history. It just crossed the wires from Reuters saying that, the US Supreme court, who is hearing the oral arguments right now, it’s saying that conservatives justices are troubled by the Obama Administration’s refusal to defend the marriage law. As a lawyer, how do you interpret whats coming out of the court right now?

Ken Mehlman: Well I was actually in the hearings yesterday, in the oral arguments, I’m on the board of AFER. Which is the organization that brought the proposition law suit with Ted Olsen and David Boies. What I saw yesterday were justices that were taking a very serious issue very seriously. They were asking a lot of very touch questions to all three of the council that were appearing before them. They recognized the enormity of what they were dealing with. What was interesting to me though, was that you heard from all sides two things that I think are really important. One was how important the issue of marriage is, how central it is to an individual, as a person to their freedom, to their essence. As Ted Olsen said it is the single most important relationship you have. And the second thing was the fundamental nature of that right, which in my judgment and in our judgment, the constitution ought to protect.

Ken Mehlman is responsible, according to NPR, for the one hundred and thirty-one prominent Republicans who have signed a pro-same-sex marriage Amicus Curie brief to the Supreme Court in light of the recent marriage equality cases.  According to NPR, Kenneth Mehlman is now “arguably the most high-profile openly gay Republican in the country.”

In order to accomplish this, Ken Mehlman has been making what he calls “the conservative case” for gay marriage.  As NPR puts it, “Mehlman compares the right to marry to other fundamental rights conservatives embrace — for example, the right to bear arms and the right of corporate free speech embodied in the Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 decision striking down the ban on corporate spending in candidate elections.”

Mehlman is himself a lawyer, and was involved in some of the confirmations of the current justices.  But getting the signatures of all of these Republicans was not an easy task.  It was the product of hundreds of long conversations and some rejections as well.  But for Mehlman, it’s all part of his coming out process.

“You can’t change the past,” Ken Mehlman says, “but you can try to, as much as you can going forward, be helpful and be constructive.”

Read the entire piece on their site here.

 

Kenneth Mehlman was interviewed by Michelangelo Signorile at the Huffington Post.  Signorile discussed this interview, and an interview that Mehlman participated with a year ago, in a piece that posted today.  In it, Kenneth Mehlman discussed the process of coming out, as well as Mehlman’s actions towards equality as part of the board for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the organization that took Prop. 8 to the Federal Court and, both as a board member for AFER and as a private citizen, Mehlman has been active in the cause of equality.  As Signorile puts it, “Mehlman has raised millions of dollars for the cause of marriage equality and used his considerable influence in several states to help sway Republicans to vote for gay marriage.”

Of course, one of the most recent things that Kenneth Melhman has done for the cause of marriage equality is his recent discussion surrounding marriage equality in the GOP.  Mehlman has been active in making the case for why marriage equality is a GOP issue, and even wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal explaining his argument. 

And, as Signorile brings up in his piece, Mehlman recently gathered over 100 Republicans to sign an Amicus Curie brief to the Supreme Court.  He also supports the Employment Non-Discrimination act as well, and is committed to doing more civil rights work in the future.  He hopes that there will be more movement on this issue.

“So my hope is that, as we go forward,” explained Kenneth Mehlman, “lots of people will look at this and say, ‘You know what? As I think about this more, maybe it does make sense to say everyone in America should have access to civil marriage.’”

 

On Monday, Kenneth Mehlman was featured in the New York Times. Ken, along with dozens of Republicans and two members of Congress signed a legal brief arguing for marriage equality. The document will be submitted this week to the Supreme Court, in hopes to strike down Proposition 8.

 

Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general under Mr. Bush filed a brief that argues that same-sex marriage promotes family values by allowing children of gay couple to grow up in two-parent homes. It also states that it advances conservative values of “limited government and maximizing individual freedom.”

 

“We are trying to say to the court that we are judicial and political conservatives, and it is consistent with our values and philosophy for you to overturn Proposition 8,” Ken Mehlman stated.

 

Public opinion on gay marriage has changed dramatically in the past ten years. The latest New York Times survey found that one third of Republicans favor gay marriage. Recent polls show that around 70 percent of voters under 30 favor same-sex marriage. This is because there are still very big regional and generational divisions that have kept the party from fully supporting marriage equality.

 

Ken Mehlman was featured today in the New Yorker, as the organizer of a recent amicus brief to the Supreme Court regarding the Proposition 8 case.  This brief featured dozens of leading Republicans including Jon Huntsman, Meg Whitman, Ken Duberstein, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and others, all stating that they supported a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

This landmark brief comes two days before the Obama Administration must decide if it is going to file a similar brief, and in one of the most high-profile Supreme Court cases of the year has drawn quite a bit of attention.  The New Yorker went on to explain just how important it was that Ken Mehlman was the one who helped to organize it.

“It’s not just that Ken Mehlman is a prominent Republican, which makes him an important asset to—and, now, organizer in—the gay-rights movement; it’s that he is one of the smartest political operatives anywhere in the country right now, and that he understands better than perhaps anyone how moderate and persuadable Republicans think. These are the very people the gay-rights movement is now trying to speak to. As Mehlman told the Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “We are trying to say to the Court that we are judicial and political conservatives, and it is consistent with our values and philosophy for you to overturn Proposition 8.”

Richard Socarides, author of the New Yorker piece, also discussed his personal experiences with Kenneth Mehlman.  The summer that he came out, he met with Mehlman and discussed what steps he would be taking.  Socarides remembers that “he told me that while he wanted to be an advocate and work for change and greater acceptance, he thought that he should first spend some time listening and learning.”

Socarides also detailed some of the work that Mehlman has done since that period of listening and learning, including being on the board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, working with the New York based Freedom to Marry, and his advocacy in working for marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State.

Read the full piece, Ken Mehlman’s Gay Marriage Mission, at the New Yorker.