Ken Mehlman Gains Support from GOP for Same-Sex Marriage

Ken Mehlman has gained support from the Republican Party in an effort to strike down Proposition 8, a ballot measure that outlaws same-sex marriage.

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Mehlman was able to drum up support with 75 signatures from prominent Republicans. The brief will be presented to the Supreme Court this week. A feature about Ken Mehlman in The New Yorker today, is calling him one of the smartest political operatives since he understands better than anyone how moderate and persuadable Republicans think.

Many of the conservative officials and influential thinkers aren’t ordinarily associated with gay rights advocacy, including some who are speaking out for the first time and others who’ve changed their previous stance. Among them are Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor, Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser, and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership who is retired from Congress.

Ms. Pryce said, ““Like a lot of the country, my views have evolved on this from the first day I set foot in Congress. I think it’s just the right thing, and I think it’s on solid legal footing, too.”

After Mehlman came out of the closet in August 2010, it represented a turning point. The gay and lesbian political community now had a conservative leader.

Mehlman is on the board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the California suit. He’s spent months reaching out to fellow Republicans for support.

In the 2012 Presidential election, the Republican party failed to reach out to women, minorities and gays. Polls show that public attitudes have shifted over same-sex marriage in the past decade. The latest New York Times survey found that a third of Republicans favor letting gay people marry and that is also changing.