Yesterday, ThinkProgress LGBT spoke with former Bush campaign chief and RNC chair Ken Mehlman, who came out as gay last year, about his efforts to whip support for marriage equality in New York. Mehlman told us that Republicans he has spoken to have been “very thoughtful and carefully considering this issue” and said that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the measure passing before the legislature adjourns on June 20th. Below are excerpts from our interview:
Mehlman’s 30-second elevator pitch:
“I would argue that they should support it first because it’s consistent with the principles that we as Republicans believe, which include maximizing freedom, which include encouraging strong families, and which include following the golden rule and I would also encourage them to support it because their constituents support it…and that number is increasing exponentially with time and with demographic change.”
Making the case in “Republican terms”:
“We’re celebrating marriage. What we’re doing is, the marriage between a man and a woman doesn’t change. What we’re doing is we’re recognizing the wonderful civil relationship that exists between two people who commit to one another and want to spend their lives together and recognizing the stability that provides, the societal benefit that provides, recognizing the dignity it provides to the two people involved, and the benefit it provides to other families out to encourage us to provide it to other people.”
Has the gay wedge lost its edge in 2012?
“There is no question if you look at the data and you look at the data across the country and you look at the data by political affiliation, almost every measure you can look at indicates there is increased support for the right to marry and for gay rights generally. You certainly saw last year one out of five Republican senators support the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, so there are precedents for Republicans supporting efforts to ensure that there is equality and freedom, and I hope you see more of that going forward.”