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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.

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.