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Ken Mehlman is one of the event chairs for an upcoming event organized to benefit the Point Foundation on October 27th at New World Stages. This special one-night-only event is presented by Amy and Jeff Towers, directed by Stephen Brackett, and produced by Tim Ranney. This event, entitled Oh, Hell no! is the theatrical tell-all of civil rights activist and author David Mixner.

Other event chairs include Alan Cumming, Robert Desidrio, Herb Hamsher, Judith Light, Rob Smith, Jonathan Stoller, Jorge Valencia, and Edie Windsor.

The event will include stories from David Mixner’s life, and includes a specially assembled trio that features the voices of Chris Bolan, Megan Osterhaus, and Tim Jerone.  Mixner is known for his contribution as one of the organizers of the Moratorium to End the Ware in Vietnam, and was a founding member of the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles, the nation’s first gay and lesbian political action committee.

Proceeds will benefit the Point Foundation, a nonprofit group that offers mentorship, leadership development, and community service training to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) students.  By empowering these youths to achieve their full academic and leadership potential despite the obstacles in their way, Point Foundation hopes to make a significant impact on society at large.

For more information on the Point Foundation visit their website here: https://www.pointfoundation.org/donate

 

 

A group of nearly 60 prominent same-sex marriage supporters recently signed a statement encouraging “a decent respect for differing opinions.”  The statement, entitled “Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why We Must Have Both,” was published on April 22nd and outlined the concern that some same-sex marriage supporters aim to punish dissenters rather than working to persuade them.

The statement primarily refers to the recent resignation of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla after it was publicized that he made a $1,000 contribution in 2008 in support of California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8.

“We are concerned that recent events, including the resignation of the CEO of Mozilla under pressure because of an anti-same-sex- marriage donation he made in 2008, signal an eagerness by some supporters of same-sex marriage to punish rather than to criticize or to persuade those who disagree,” the statement says.  “We reject that deeply illiberal impulse, which is both wrong in principle and poor as politics.”

The statement goes on to affirm that open society and vigorous public debate are necessary for our society, and are part of the reason why the “last few years have brought an astonishing moral and political transformation in the American debate over same-sex marriage and gay equality.”  It brings up the point that Brendan Eich’s donation was a personal political action taken when “the majority of the American public shared his view” and that Eich was not accused of practicing any form of discrimination against Mozilla employees.

“We strongly believe that opposition to same-sex marriage is wrong, but the consequence of holding a wrong opinion should not be the loss of a job. Inflicting such consequences on others is sadly ironic in light of our movement’s hard-won victory over a social order in which LGBT people were fired, harassed, and socially marginalized for holding unorthodox opinions.”

Signatories to the statement include Margaret Hoover of the American Unity Fund, former Republican Representative Jim Kolbe, President of the R Street Institute Eli Lehrer, businessman Ken Mehlman, and Leah Ward Sears, former Georgia Supreme Court Justice.

Out Magazine, which styles itself as a “gay and lesbian perspective on style, entertainment, fashion, the arts, politics, culture, and the world at large” recently released its 8th Annual Power 50.  This list documents theKen Mehlman

Ken Mehlman made this year’s Power List, numbering 18.  He was joined by people like Chris Hughes, Publisher and Editor in Chief of the New Republic, actor Neil Patrick Harris, and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin.  Other notables include Tim Cook, Ellen DeGeneres, and Michael Sam, who only recently came out in a interview with the New York Times.

 

Out Magazine cited Ken Mehlman’s recent work with the American Foundation for Equal Rights and his work to help “win marriage equality in New York, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota.”

As Out Magazine puts it, “since coming out in 2010, former Republican National Committee chairman Mehlman has been a revolutionary leader in his party.”

Out on the Street recently expanded to form Out Leadership, a model for collaboration across industry lines in order to help develop initiatives in the future that help support and leverage LGBT opportunities.  This new project brings together leaders throughout the business world, including top executives and senior leaders in financial services, law, and insurance fields.  Together they will work  to develop programs and initiatives that can help to impact businesses and drive LGBT equality forward.

Ken Mehlman is a member of the Out on the Street Leadership committee, and has been since 2011.  As he puts it, “Out Leadership will help members succeed while making a positive impact. It will help smart businesses share effective tools to recruit and retain the best talent and enhance true meritocracy throughout our firms and society.”  Ken Mehlman is a Member and Global Head of Public Affairs at KKR, which is one of Out on the Street’s 2014 member firms.  Other 2014 member firms includeBarclays, Bloomberg, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Moody’s, Morgan Stanley, Nomura, Prudential Investment Management, RBC Wealth Management, RBS, UBS, Vestar Capital Partners and Wells Fargo.

Out Leadership was founded by Todd Sears, a former investment banker and diversity leader, and he focuses on the idea that LGBT inclusion and business diversity is a boon for businesses, driving success in a new way.

The group plans to launch two additional industry verticals later this year that will be organized by Out Leadership: Out in Law and Out in Insurance.  Out in Law will host its inaugural summit in March in New York.

Both of these programs plan to develop business-focused dialog in the law and insurance fields, and all of these programs will work together to develop ideas and programs that are cross-industry. One such program will be the OutNEXT Emerging Leaders program, which Out Leadership has already begun and which will work to create opportunities for LGBt leaders in New York, London, and Hong Kong.

 

Ken Mehlman spoke to The Dish about why he chose to work on marriage equality. See below for the video, as well as a full transcript.

Transcript:

Question: Why are you so engaged on the issue of marriage equality?

Ken Mehlman: What motivates me to do this are people I’ve met along the way, and people whose experience I think is really compelling. There’s a couple here in the city of New York, really good friends, they’re probably in their mid or late 40’s, although I may have insulted them by aging them. A couple of women, they have awesome kids, they’re incredible moms, and before we had marriage here in New York, they had to have a judge send an expert into their house to determine whether they were fit parents so that they could have a medical consent form for their kids. Think about that, that’s like something you hear abut in the old Soviet Union, or in a Totalitarian regime; that’s un-American, but that happened here.

Ken Mehlman: I think about a good buddy of mine who lives in Washington, who has a long time partner from Europe. They love each other; they’re an awesome couple. Until recently, they had to worry every few years how he would stay in this country. Or I think about the 14-year-old or the 15-year-old that live all over our country, who every year, they’re excited about their mom and dad’s wedding anniversary. That’s not a contract anniversary, that’s a wedding anniversary that’s celebrates their wedding. That’s the one thing every year the family celebrates together. And they think, “I’m never going to have that.” That’s terrible, that’s not fair. Imagine growing up, and thinking about the thing your mom and day talk about the most, maybe they have a wedding album, but you’ll never have access to it. So when you think about people like that, that’s pretty motivating.

Ken Mehlman: Secondly, I’m motivated by the fact that I think this is consistent with what I believe as someone who is a political conservative. I believe in freedom, I believe in family values, and this is consistent with that. I’m also motivated by the fact that I feel like this is an area I can help. I’ve had a unique experience professionally in my life, and I think as a result I’ve learned some things about how to be involved in public persuasion, I’ve learned some things about tactics that can be effective in various campaigns. I’ve met a lot of men and women, many who are on the right of the political center, who I think I can help encourage to be involved. I was really pleased that we had 135 very Senior Officials, members of the Reagan cabinet, President Bush’s cabinet and others who signed an amicus brief on behalf of the recent Supreme Court cases, a number of whom, by the way are still involved. I’m proud of the fact that Paul Wolfowitz wrote an op-ed in the Texas Newspaper, after writing the amicus brief, staying involved in the case. So all those things are very motivating to me. But you know, there’s a lot of people who do this their whole lives, for whom this is a profession. I try to help where I can. And at the end of the day, while I’m pleased to be able to help and will look forward to continuing to find ways to help, what really motivates me is admiring the work that people like them do. People like Chad, people like Evan, people in so many other places around the country who have committed their lives to this. All of that to me really is important.

Ken Mehlman has been giving a lot of advice when it comes to marriage equality. In this video, he talks about religious conservatives and marriage equality. Look below for the entire transcript.

Transcript:

Question: What sort of messaging to you think will be most effective in promoting marriage equality among social and religious conservatives?

Ken Mehlman: I think among social religious conservatives, it’s important to think about a couple of things. First, I think it’s really important to be clear we’re talking about civil marriage. We’re talking about whether the government allows people to have access to a marriage license. The same people that pay taxes and serve in the same military, ought to be treated the same under the law. We’re not talking about the sacrament of marriage, which is up to each religious denomination to determine it’s own definition of. But secondly, what’s interesting to me is if you stopped and you said, “What’s the biggest indicator of where someone stands on this issue?” It actually wouldn’t be if they are religious or not, or if they are conservative or liberal, or republican or democrat; it’s their age. There was a recent ABC News Washington Post poll: 64 percent of millennial evangelicals, which is to say people born between 1980 and 2000, supported marriage equality. That’s a pretty interesting statistic to me.

Ken Mehlman: I think that the biggest argument to make to folks is one: we’re talking about, in fact, civil marriage. This is not a threat to anybody’s sacrament or anybody’s religious freedom, and we’re going to stand up for that. Two, equally importantly, if you think about the golden rule, if you think about what many religious conservatives have correctly argued for years, which is that our society would be better off if more people cared for one another. That there is more stability, and we want to promote more families to form, and it’s important to have two parents taking care of children. If you believe in all of those things, that’s actually promoted and encouraged by allowing more people to get married. So that there are more people who are caring for children, so there are more children raised in households with two loving parents. So that there are more people that have someone to take care of them when they get sick or old. All of those goals, which religious conservatives have argued for over the years can be achieved by allowing more people to get married, and doing so in a way that also protects religious freedom, which is what civil marriage does.

Ken Mehlman recently discussed what he sees as the future of marriage equality. See below for the video, as well as a full transcript.

Transcript:

Question: What’s next for the marriage equality movement?

Ken Mehlman: I think that that’s an answer people like Andrew Sullivan, Evan Wolfson, Chad Griffin, and Matt Coles and others who spent years working on this question are better positioned to answer than I am. They’re the experts; I look for ways to help them when I can. From my perspectives, what I hope will happen are a couple of things.

Ken Mehlman: First, about a third of the country will live in a place where today there is marriage equality. What I think other people are going to see, is not only that things they worried about didn’t happen, but a whole lot of good things happened. I’ll tell you a story that I think to me explains this. I had the opportunity to go up to New Hampshire in 2011 when that state was considering repealing the marriage law that was passed in 2009. When the law was passed, 7 Republicans had voted for it. I went up to New Hampshire and met with a whole bunch of Republican legislature, and most who I met with said, “You know what, we actually think marriage is between a man and a women.” I asked them a question, “I understand that, but let me ask you this, would you concede that for the 1,800 families who have someone who got married under the marriage law, are their lives are better? And they said “yeah, obviously,” and I said, “Whose life got worse?” and they couldn’t answer the question. At the end of the day, we ended up with a majority, 119 Republicans of the legislatures in New Hampshire voted in favor of marriage. A majority of Republicans, from seven to a majority, how did that happen? It happened because of experience. It happened because a lot of folks had someone on their street who perhaps got married or attended a wedding, or had a brother or sister who got married. And so what we are about to have happen now is all over the country, people are going to look and they’re going to see that in New York, California, that in these other places, communities got stronger. Children had two parents to take care of them, and people had a loved one to watch out for them when they got older and they got sick unfortunately. The impact on society was to make it stronger not weaker, to enhance family values.

Ken Mehlman: So I hope as that happens, people will look and they’ll say, “that’s really interesting, that’s really important, and as a result I now support marriage.” So I think you’ll see, one in those states where it’s legal and available, people seeing what really happens. Two, then other states will make the case, will show people what’s happening in the states where marriage is available, that’s obviously important. And third, obviously there remains a significant amount of litigation that’s occurring in this space, so all of those things are occurring. But what matters most is experience, what matters most in all of this is what people see in their real lives. And what people are going to see in their real lives, I’m very confident in 30% of the country, cause what they’ve seen in the last few years, in New Hampshire, Iowa, New York, in Washington, in Maryland, in these other states, and that is that society is better off, that family values are enhanced, that freedom is promoted, and that communities are stronger because more people live in a place where they have a committed and loving partner who they can come home to, who they can raise children with, and who they can look after.

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.”

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.”