Karen Ocamb

FRC Head Tony Perkins Reacts to Ken Mehlman Coming Out

Filed By Karen Ocamb | August 27, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Family Research Council, GOP, Ken Mehlman, rightwing nutjobs, Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins, head of the antigay Family Research Council, is “saddened” by the news about former GOP heavy weight Ken Mehlman coming out as gay, according to an email to supporters he sent during a break from his vacation. Perkins (pictured) says that Mehlman The Call Tony Perkins.JPGhas “chosen” to identify himself as gay. I guess Perkins didn’t read Mehlman’s interview with The Atlantic or skipped that part where it took Mehlman 43 years to “choose” that identity.

But there are so many other interesting tid-bits in Perkins’ email. Look at the phrase “unfortunate confirmation” – now what does Perkins mean by that? That he, too, knew that Mehlman’s sexual orientation was an “open secret” in Washington DC and Republican circles? If that’s true – why didn’t Perkins reach out to Mehlman, whom he says he “cares about as a person,” and invite him to join an “ex-gay” ministry with which FRC is connected? Hmmmm? Might he have thought that Mehlman’s sexual orientation was none of his business? A personal matter? But wait – Perkins thinks every other gay person’s personal life is his business so why make an exception for Mehlman? Or perhaps if Mehlman had said yes and then the “cure” failed – and Mehlman, having been exposed for trying – exposes the truth about “ex-gay” ministries – that they don’t work? Geez – and then he trots out the old homosexual-”conduct”-causes-disease trope – long discredited but still a money-maker with his unquestioning crowd.

But best of all is Perkins’ conspiracy theory – that Mehlman having been closeted all this time “helps explain the scandalous failure of many in the Republican establishment to vigorously uphold the values and policy positions expressed in the party’s platform in 2004 and 2008, particularly the need to protect the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman nationwide.”

Yup – that’s it: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and all the other top right wing GOP leaders were afraid of blowing Mehlman’s secret or hurting his feelings so they refused to do the “grassroots” bidding. Never mind that that GOP team under Mehlman was responsible for antigay marriage constitutional amendments in 11 states in 2004 and 8 states in 2006. Not good enough.

I would love to be a fly on the wall when Mehlman and Perkins encounter each other again.

Here’s Perkins email to supporters:

The Update remains on Summer break and will return next week, but I wanted to respond to inquires and concerns that have been expressed about the news that former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman has now chosen to identify himself as homosexual.

First, I am saddened by this announcement. I’m saddened because I know Ken and care about him as a person. Homosexuality not only has negative implications for society, it also has profound, well-documented negative physical and mental health consequences for those who engage in homosexual conduct as well.

This unfortunate confirmation helps explain the scandalous failure of many in the Republican establishment to vigorously uphold the values and policy positions expressed in the party’s platform in 2004 and 2008, particularly the need to protect the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman nationwide. While grassroots activists succeeded in passing marriage amendments in dozens of states across the country, they received little support and even outright resistance from Party officials at the national level, which contributed to the GOP’s electoral failures in 2006 and 2008. Now we know one of the major reasons why.

With this announcement about his homosexuality, Ken also announced that he would join those who have mounted the assault on marriage through the activist courts. Not only does this run counter to the historical principles of the Republican Party, it stands in direct opposition to the Party’s platform which is clear on the importance of marriage and family. The Party’s unequivocal stand on life, marriage, and family is why many social conservatives have made the GOP their political home.

It is important for the conservative movement that the Republican Party remains committed to its longtime stance on core social issues. The Party and the movement will suffer if the GOP adopts a foolish strategy of seeking votes by pandering to the two-percent of the population who are homosexual or bisexual–and thereby alienating the majority of conservative voters.

** When the news about Mehlman hit the wires this morning, FRC’s two Kens–Blackwell and Klukowski–tackled the tough road ahead for the Republican Party in a brand new column. “If Republicans flinch on marriage,” they write,” America could have eight years of President Obama.” You can check out their op-ed, “Disaster Looms If GOP Changes Course On Gay Marriage,” on Fox News now.

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Towleroad has posted a scanned invitation to a $5000-a-plate anti-Prop 8 fundraiser co-hosted by Mehlman, with Ted Olson and David Boies speaking.

Mehlman, as you point out above, gave us Bush's second term by stoking homophobia and riding the coattails of homophobic ballot initiatives in key swing states. Olson, of course, gave us Bush's stolen first term, by arguing that case before the Supreme Court packed by Daddy Bush.

Why are these people choosing the Prop 8 battle at this moment? Why the sudden concern? Does the Supreme Court really seem all that likely to rule in our favor? Is this a good tactical choice?

Is it possible that Mehlman , Olson, and their Republican friends and backers, also listed on the invite, are aiming to drive Christian right voter turnout in 2012 with the specter of this case advancing through the Federal Court system? And before dismissing this idea, shouldn't we consider that, in fact, it would be more consistent with everything we know about them, than to assume otherwise, and take them at face value?

Why are Machiavellian rich Republicans making the tactical decisions that are driving the LGBTQ political agenda? Is there actually ANY reason to trust these people AT ALL?

I read the article on Towleroad and saw the invitation. It looks like they're trying to bring several prominent Republicans over to the marriage equality side. To me, it seems a little odd that marriage equality supporters would try to drive the right wing to vote Republican by getting Republicans to abandon a right wing position. I'm inclined to file this under "the bigots have already lost." Remember, many of the AFER people, including David Boies and Dustin Lance Black, are progressive. AFER's position has always been that marriage equality is not a liberal issue or a conservative issue, but an American issue.

As far as I known, Mehlman's only relationship to the homophobic part of the Bush campaign was to argue against the marriage amendments, as mentioned in the article that Karen linked to. There could be things we don't know about yet, but from what we know so far, I'd guess that Olson and Mehlman support other LGBT equality issues as well.

Mehlman was the RNC CHAIR of a viciously homophobic national campaign. I find it nonsensical to talk about his relation , or lack of relation, with homophobic "parts" of that campaign.

And one doesn't have to assume that everyone at AFER is part of the same conspiracy, to question the motives of some of the key players, or to ask why they are being allowed to drive the national LGBTQ agenda, and what end that is ultimately serving.

Again, the fact that he chaired the campaign tells us nothing about how he encouraged or discouraged the homophobia, if you don't want to say the homophobic part, of that campaign. If anything, I think that what little we know about him suggests that he argued against it. I don't see evidence of a conspiracy at this point, although I can see how such a thing could happen in the Republican party.

You obviously think differently, and that's your right. But calling my viewpoint "nonsensical" certainly hasn't motivated me to consider yours any further.

I'm sorry to give you offense. But I do think it is untenable to attempt to salvage Mehlman's reputation from the campaign which he chose to chair , and for which the buck must stop with him. I do not see how , as Chair ,he can be regarded as other than directly answerable for the tone and tactics of a national and state-by-state campaign that stoked a climate of hate and fear, negatively, and even devastatingly, impacting the lives of countless LGBTQ people. He's not even really denying that himself, or trying to claim that he was an advocate for queers within his party at the time ; he's just giving a sudden-conversion-with-apology story.

Tony Perkins is an unrepentant homophobe who doesn't deserve to have his drivel publicized. In the end, he will go the way of the dodo bird.

I have just finished commenting on the Catholic Church so I will not bother to say most of that over again. However Tony Perkins and the Family Research Counsel are pretty much cut from the same cloth a those who would try to control the Spiritual life of anyone in the name of God. While I am not going to sit here and rant on them as they would against me, I would urge someone to read their own Bible, and see if they find the Hate that the like of these people stir up. Furthermore perhaps they should research the versus in that Bible the likes of Tony Perkins often use to beat people over the head with in the name of God before they take what this person says as valid. They might find some of what they believe is said there may well not be what they see in most translations.

It is not Tony Perkins who has the right or authority to judge anyone, indeed his actions will be judged more harshly for doing so. Perhaps the main reason why Tony Perkins and many others wish to condemn so freely is that they want to create a climate of fear so that people send money to them for their so called crusade to keep the LGBTQ menace from the streets, all while they live very well doing so.

I do not know how people do not see through these type of people but those who wish to breed a climate of hate certainly are missing the point I read in my Bible.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 28, 2010 10:27 PM

The Republicans and the theocratic right certainly have been busy eating their dead.

Craig, Rekers, Ashburn, Mehlman, Glenn Murphy Jr, Haggard, Mark Foley, Bob Allen. It's an ever expanding list of political and cultist creepy-crawlies scampering for the dark when exposed to the light.

Everyone of them is a functional bigot for opposing same sex marriage, just like their cousin brothers in the Democratic Party.


Religion infected Mehlman, not Republicans. Republicans (like religion) are dividing over the issue of homosexuality. This is GOOD NEWS.

Instead of condemning Mehlman try understanding why he did what he did - it was religion. Give him the opportunity to make a real difference now. Most of us know how religion can fuck us up or how it can lead someone to take their own life, how it can provide permission to hate. Religion is the problem, not party affiliation.

It is very healthy and positive to let go of religious beliefs that demean and define our lives. Mehlman is trying to break free of those bigoted beliefs - let him. Then, let him figure out how he can benefit our community. I believe he wants to - now that he is free of religious bigotry. Let's see.

And here I thought he was going to throw Mehlman a coming out party! :)

That is funny, because if any pol actually got same-sex marriage passed in eleven states, we wouldn't be saying, "He's a mole for the other side because he didn't do it nationally!" We're a little more gracious that way.