- (Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
Ken Mehlman, who worked in the administration of President George W. Bush and later served as chairman of the Republican National Committee during Bush's second term, apologized for not standing up for gay rights during Bush's two presidential campaigns.
Mehlman spent four years in the administration of Bush as director of Political Affairs and served as campaign manager during the 2004 Bush campaign prior to his tenure at the RNC.
When he first announced he was gay in 2010, Mehlman initially expressed regret for going along with the administration's support of the federal marriage amendment.
"I can't change the fact that I wasn't in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that," said Mehlman in an interview with Salon. "It was very hard personally."
During his most recent interview with Salon, Mehlman took his apology a step further.
"At a personal level, I wish I had spoken out against the effort," said Mehlman. "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."
Mehlman, who now works for a New York private equity firm, was active in New York's effort to legalize same-sex marriage and feels that more and more elected officials are supporting gay marriage.
"What you see in Maryland and Washington, and states like New York earlier, is a reflection of politicians representing their constituents."
The former aide is not the first alumnus of the most recent Bush administration to support the passage of same-sex marriage laws. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter is a lesbian, offered to assist in the lobbying of Maryland legislators when the State Assembly voted on the issue two weeks ago.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley recently signed the legislation making it the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage. However, voters in 31 states have passed amendments or laws that have banned same-sex marriage.
Similar amendments will be on the ballot in North Carolina and Minnesota. Efforts are underway to gather signatures that will allow voters in Maryland the right to vote on a referendum in November. Opponents of gay marriage have expressed confidence voters will vote in favor of traditional marriage.