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Monday, June 27, 2011

Is Ken Mehlman the Hidden Hero of the NY Gay Marriage Vote?


So when folks think of Ken Mehlman, they remember the guy who worked for Bush and led the campaign to federally ban gay marriage. Later, he came out and spent the last year trying to redeem himself. He has played some minor roles moving LGBT issues within the GOP. But his biggest role may have went semi unnoticed.

According to this latest piece from The Daily Beast, Ken may be the unsung hero of the NY gay marriage vote:
On May 6, Mehlman traveled to Albany to attend a meeting with the leaders of New York’s GOP-controlled legislature, and make his pitch. “There’ s a strong Republican and conservative case to be made in favor of the right to marry,” Mehlman told the room. “If we are all endowed by a creator with unalienable rights including the pursuit of happiness, how can that not include marrying the person you love?” And like any good campaign strategist, he buttressed his argument with poll data: nearly 60 percent of New Yorkers said in recent polling that they support same-sex marriage. The GOP should not, he hinted, wind up on the wrong side of history.

On June 6, two weeks before the legislative session was officially set to end, Mehlman was back in the state capitol to drive his argument home. He met one-on-one with 13 lawmakers, including the four Republican state senators who eventually voted in favor of the bill. Mehlman took pains not to draw too much attention to his efforts. As his friend, Bill Smith, political director at the Gill Action Fund, a gay-rights organization that orchestrated the conservative lobbying in New York, puts it, “he has been careful not to leave many fingerprints, like people who are looking for credit.” But the four Republican votes ended a deadlocked legislative session and made New York the sixth, largest, and most influential state to adopt same-sex marriage.
Ken is working hard to get in the gays' good graces. I'm kind of curious to see what he does next.

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