Former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman has issued what may be his first public apology for his role in fomenting anti-gay sentiment during President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election bid:
As for his role in the 2004 Bush campaign and its exploitation of marital politics, Mehlman is candid — and remorseful.
“At a personal level, I wish I had spoken out against the effort,” he says. “As I’ve been involved in the fight for marriage equality, one of the things I’ve learned is how many people were harmed by the campaigns in which I was involved. I apologize to them and tell them I am sorry. While there have been recent victories, this could still be a long struggle in which there will be setbacks, and I’ll do my part to be helpful.”
Eleven states voted on ballot measures banning same-sex marriage during the 2004 election, as conservatives hoped to bring out their base for the President. But political scientists have said that the turnout in those states “was no higher than in the 39 without them” and estimate that “the presence of these referendums likely had no effect on the outcome of the Bush-Kerry presidential contest.” Meanwhile, Mehlman — who came out as gay in 2010 — has worked to advance same-sex marriage in New York, Maryland, and New Hampshire.