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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.”

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 recently launched Project Right Side which, according to Amanda Terkel’s piece in the Huffington Post, “is aimed at convincing more conservatives to support marriage equality.”

According to Terkel, in his discussion about the issue, Mehlman explains how marriage equality really is as much an issue of individual freedom as it is one of civil rights.

As part of a study that Project Right Side commissioned of voters in the election in the last year, there is growing GOP support for marriage equality.

Terkel also brings up the fact that Mehlman has been a strong supporter of LGBT rights ever since he announced that he was gay in August of 2010.

“He has fundraised for marriage equality initiatives and has publicly spoken out in favor of such measures,” she wrote.

Ken Mehlman has a featured piece in the Wall Street Journal about demography, American politics, and marriage equality.

Ken Mehlman brings up the interesting idea that marriage equality is not solely a progressive issue.  Indeed, it is one that is closely tied in with conservative values.

“Some misperceive the issue of marriage equality as exclusively progressive. Yet what could be more conservative than support for more freedom and less government?” Mehlman wrote. “And what freedom is more basic than the right to marry the person you love?”

He also explains Project Right Side, which commissioned leading GOP polling firm Target Point to survey voters and help Republicans appreciate this changing environment.

To read more about this data, and Ken Mehlman’s entire piece, click here.