Fred Malek has a storied history in the Republican Party. He held several significant roles the Nixon Administration (though one of them implicated him directly in his boss’ anti-Semitic crusade), and filled top-level roles in Republican presidential campaigns in 1972, 1992, and 2008. Most recently, he founded the big-money American Action Network, a conservative 501c(4) organization that runs millions of dollars in ads opposing Democrats. Malek is widely considered a major player in the Republican Party.
And as of this weekend, he supports marriage equality.
ThinkProgress caught up with Malek at the Hispanic Leadership Network’s conference, a conservative pro-immigration reform meeting which had been consumed with debating ways the Party could expand its appeal to demographics it was currently losing. Malek had previously come close to endorsing marriage equality, but hadn’t stated it outright. Here’s what he said last weekend:
BEAUCHAMP: There’s an internal debate on the right about whether or not the party should change its orientation on gay issues, specifically. How do you all feel about that?
MALEK: I don’t know how American Action Network feels, but I feel it’s overdue and I support gay marriage…Here’s what I feel about it. I’ve always thought, raised throughout my life, as a conservative I’ve always regarded marriage as between a man and a woman. Other people don’t agree. If they don’t agree, why should we force them to do what they don’t want to do? They should be able to do what they want to do. It’s a free country. They ought to be able to get married and they ought to have legalization of that.
Though several other senior Republican figures have come out in favor of marriage equality, the party as a whole has yet to recognize the reality of Americans’ views on equality. A recent meeting of the Republican National Committee approved an anti-marriage equality resolution without debate, with only one gay Republican casting a dissenting vote.