In an interview with The Advocate published yesterday, NOM President Brian Brown responded to former RNC head Ken Mehlman’s announcement that he is gay and has decided to raise money to support the legal challenge to California’s Prop 8:
While Mehlman’s Wednesday confessional with The Atlantic certainly wasn’t cause for celebration among prominent anti-gay marriage forces, nor was it seen as further evidence of a conservative party shifting toward a pro-marriage equality position, however slowly.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, told The Advocate that Mehlman was “abdicating core Republican beliefs” in his support for AFER’s legal effort in challenging Prop. 8. “But it’s never been about the leaders. It’s always been about the people, based on an overwhelming majority of Republican voters -- 85, 86 percent -- who support marriage as a union between a man and a woman,” he said. “That a few folks within the Republican Party are questioning a party platform and have personal positions on same-sex marriage is a reality of political parties. [Mehlman] is no longer a major party leader, so I don’t know how influential he is, to be honest with you.”
Marriage equality advocates, Brown said, are using high-profile conservatives now supporting marriage equality -- from Ted Olson to vice president Dick Cheney -- in order to “create an impression that there is an inevitability to same-sex marriage. The facts strongly go against that idea.”
Brown asserted that the RNC played a limited role in rallying the anti-gay marriage vote during the 2004 presidential elections, when Mehlman served as Bush-Cheney campaign manager. Eleven states passed constitutional amendments banning marriage rights for same-sex couples that year, including Ohio, which gave Bush a margin of victory over Democratic Sen. John Kerry.
“These [amendments] were pushed by people on the state level,” Brown said. “The whole notion that it was some top-down, Machiavellian ploy by the Republican Party is a farce.”