Ken MehlmanKen Mehlman wrote an op-ed in the Las Vegas Sun called Marriage Equality: A Conservative Ideal. He started off the article asking, “What do Vice President Dick Cheney, Gen. Colin Powell, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Clint Eastwood and more than 130 top officials from the Reagan and both Bush administrations have in common?” They are all proud conservatives and have spent years fighting for a smaller government. Another thing they have in common – they all support civil marriage for gay couples.


Just two weeks ago another prominent conservative was added to this list: State Sen. Ben Kieckhefer. He stood in favor of repealing Nevada’s current constitutional ban on same –sex marriage. And replacing it with protections that will provide all “loving, committed couples in the state the freedom to marry while also protecting religious freedom for churches that feel differently on the issues.”


“Freedom of Americans across all races is why the Republican Party was founded,” Ken Mehlman states.  As he explains it, all of the party’s best accomplishments have come from moments when they have promoted freedom as based on the Declaration of Independence.


“What freedom could be more basic and personal than the right to marry the person you love?” he asks. “If we are serious in our belief that every citizen is endowed by his or her creator with the right to pursue happiness, then how can this not include the freedom to marry? What could be more central to a person’s happiness? And alternatively, if we want a smaller, less obtrusive government, shouldn’t individuals, not politicians decide who they can marry?”


Kenneth Mehlman believes that marriage not only maximizes freedom, but also promotes stability, responsibility, commitment and family values.


This new amendment approved by Kieckhefer adds new protections that strengthen religious liberty. If it is passed, same-sex couples will be allowed to marry and private religious institutions would not be required to recognize or perform a wedding.


In national polls, support for marriage equality from Republicans has increased by 50 percent in the past 3 years. As Mehlman put it, “This isn’t surprising. The freedom to marry is consistent with core conservative and American values – limited government, personal responsibility, commitment and, above all, freedom for all.



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.’”


Ken Mehlman was recently in Des Moines, Iowa speaking at a public event hosted by Iowa Republicans for Freedom. According to the Iowa Republican, Mehlman spoke on the fact that he “believes that not only is it in the best interest of the Republican Party to end its opposition to same-sex marriage, but it also fits with the conservative principles of small government the party holds dear.”

In the ten minute speech Kenneth Mehlman touched on several different issues, including the benefits that civil marriage can bring to society as well as individuals.  Watch the video, or read the full transcript of his video tomorrow



Ken Mehlman: “So the men and women who were here today and the reason that I am here in Iowa is to stand with and salute the excellent work of men and women who stand in favor of civil marriage because they are conservative, not in spite of being conservative.  If you think about what permitting civil marriage is about it is actually consistent with conservative principles.


I’m a conservative because I believe in more freedom and I believe in less government.  I think that we are endowed by our creator- not by politicians, not by the government, not by a bureaucrat- with inalienable rights including the pursuit of happiness.  If you believe that, what could be more central to the pursuit of happiness than choosing the person that you love that you have the right to marry.


What could be a more basic and a more fundamental and a more core right? A right in which the individual has and frankly the government shouldn’t be involved.  How could smaller and less intrusive government not include the right to choose the person that you would like to marry?


The second reason that a lot of us are conservatives is that we believe in family values.  We think that it is good for society when families are promoted- when stability is promoted.  It is one reason that I for one was proud when I was working in Congress to have helped out members of Congress that were working on behalf of welfare reform.   It is a reason you hear a lot of people talk, and I think rightly so, about the dangers of family disintegration. These are important things.


So if you believe that, isn’t a good way to promote family values and discourage family disintegration to allow families to form in the first place?  Isn’t that important, doesn’t that make sense? How does standing in the way of two adults who love each other discourage rather than promote family values?


If you think about it what- in fact- it does (and you’re seeing it across Iowa) is it makes our society stronger.  It makes it more caring.   It makes it more focused on the long term.  It creates stability in the lives of children across the country who are raised by two members of the same gender who are loving moms or loving dads and- because of what happened in Iowa- now have the stability and security in the knowledge that their home is now more secure.


We are also conservatives because we believe in protecting religious liberty and because we believe in the golden rule.  Protecting religious liberty.  We know that here in Iowa, that in New York, we know that in New Hampshire, all around the country there are civil marriage laws.  And what those laws do- in addition to promoting freedom and in addition to encouraging family values- is that they protect religious liberties.


How? They say that if it’s a church, or a synagogue, or a knights of Columbus, and their doctrine says that they don’t perform the ceremony, then the ceremony doesn’t happen there.  And that’s as it should be.


But there’s something else.  Even though many of us come from different religious traditions, so many of those traditions are rooted in the golden rule.  Do unto others- put yourself in the other person’s shoes.


So how does that apply here?  Well think about it.  Put yourself in the shoes of your neighbor. Your neighbor works hard like you do.  He or she pays the same taxes that you do.   He or she may serve in the same military that you do.   Shouldn’t they be subjected to the same laws?  How would you feel if you were in their shoes and you had special laws that applied to you that precluded you from marrying the person you loved?


Or put yourself in the shoes of the 14 year-old, or the 12 year-old, or the kid that is growing up.  Sitting on your mom or dad’s counter is a wedding album. And it celebrates one of the greatest things that happened in their life- when they chose to get married.  As you thought about your own future wouldn’t you hope that you had that same opportunity?


So when you do unto others- when you think about the golden rule- it seems to me that allowing civil marriage is also consistent with permitting that to occur. And that’s another reason that we as conservatives stand on behalf of civil marriage because we are conservatives, not in spite of being conservatives.


There are also real world practical implications. I’m talking about conservatism and philosophy and all that, but there are real world implications that affect people’s lives.  One of them is before the United States Supreme Court.  There is a woman in New York by the name of Evie Winsor.  She’s an older woman.  She is someone who had a partner for her whole life and when her partner died she ended up with a more than $700,000 estate tax simply because they were a couple who were of the same gender.  As conservatives who don’t like taxes and who feel that a fundamentally unfair rule like that ought to be overturned shouldn’t we stand with Evie against such an onerous tax?  That’s a real world implication.


I have a good friend of mine who lives in New York.  A couple.  They have been together for about 15 years.  Because they live in New York and if they came to Iowa, when they travel with their children they’re in a good place.  But if they go to a number of other states in their country they have to carry papers proving that they have custody of the children in case, heaven forbid, that something happened to one of the children and a medical decision had to be made.


The way they got those papers was by a judge sitting in their house for a week and ascertaining whether they are fit parents.  That happens all across America today.  Not in Cuba, in America. That is unjust, and it’s unfair, and it’s a very practical- not philosophical- but practical fact that can be changed when other states follow what Iowa has done and civil marriage is available.

I have another friend who is in a wonderful relationship with someone who lives overseas.  And every five years this couple has to go through a harrowing experience about worrying about whether they are going to have to deal with a situation where the couple can stay together.  How are they going to do it?


So these are real world, actual implications. Not philosophical.  Not about matters about what you call it or not call it.  The fact is that all across our country are couples that lose their homes, who pay unfair taxes, who worry about making medical decisions for their children who they care about and love, and who worry about whether a loved one overseas can be with their mate for life in this country.  And that’s all because other states do not have what we have in Iowa, what we have in New York, and that is the right to civil marriage.


Finally, it always interests me when I talk to people about this, what does it mean to have marriage? Think about this state. There are probably four or five thousand couples who are together today as married couples that weren’t together before there was marriage in this state. And what does it mean?


It means a whole lot to that couple.  It means their lives are better.  It means that if they have kids their kids live in a more secure home.  It means that if they live in your neighborhood they are two people, not one, who if you are sick or old that they can look after your house, who can mow the lawn if you need the help. That can make sure that if your child is wandering the streets that your child is taken care of.


It means that when these folks get older that they will, in fact, be able to care for each other and the public taxpayer is protected. It means that their families feel better knowing that there is someone out there to look after their son or their daughter.


The fact is that for those 5,000 people and for all the people in their lives, their families, their neighbors, their friends, their work colleagues, it’s a better place to live. And who’s at worst for it? Can you find anyone?


I was in a discussion with a state legislator in another state and I explained to him why I felt that civil marriage made sense.  And he said, “I’m against it.” And I said, “Well, you’ve had it in your state for a few years.  Can you find me one person, one example where it’s worse?  One example where the parade of horrible happened?”  The fact is, he couldn’t.


So if you think about it, Iowa is a better place today because of the fact that loving couples can be married. It’s a freer place, it’s a juster place, it’s a place with stronger families, it’s a place with stronger neighborhoods, it’s a place with stronger communities.


The conservatives who stand here today are not alone.  All across our country from Dick Cheney who more than eight years ago to John Bolton to Clint Eastwood to Ted Olsen, people who are extremely conservative, who are proud of their support of freedom, who are proud of their support of family values who are proud of their support of the golden rule, believe that civil marriage ought to be available.


And obviously conservatives are not alone.  We saw what happened in the last election- more Americans support the right to civil marriage than oppose it and that number continues to grow every day.


So I am proud to stand here today with men and women who have taken the term “Iowa first” and have proven it to once again be true.  Proven it by standing up first for justice, standing up first for freedom, and standing up for conservative and frankly American values that we look forward to seeing expand across the country.


I salute the head of One Iowa that we have with us today and I want to salute and thank you for your wonderful leadership and there are a number of One Iowa staff, raise your hands and stand so that we can give you a round of applause.


Thank you for being here.  Thank you for your leadership.  It is an honor for me to stand with you all today and it’s an honor to be back here in the wonderful city of Des Moines. And I appreciate the members of the press taking the time to be with us today.”

Ken Mehlman was recently featured in the Advocate for his work on Project Right Side, a new non-profit that, through research and analysis, ” identifies the intersections between conservative beliefs and the growing public support for gay and lesbian civil rights measures, including marriage equality, employment nondiscrimination protections, and antibullying laws.”

Project Right Side is unique in the fact that it is focused on research and analysis, and how it has provided important data about how supportive Republicans in general are of legal protection for gay Americans.

“Of the 7,000 Republicans we surveyed, 73% support employment nondiscrimination protections for gays and lesbians,” Ken Mehlman explained. “61% support safe-schools protections (such as those signed into law by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie) and 46% support allowing same-sex couples to jointly file tax returns.”