By Carlos Santoscoy
Published: August 26, 2010Outing blogger Mike Rogers has given former Bush administration official Ken Mehlman, who came out gay Wednesday, an anti-gay award.
Mehlman managed President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign and once chaired the Republican National Committee.
He denied rumors he's gay for years, including in a 2006 interview with the New York Daily News. GOP operatives and friends have also long denied knowledge of Mehlman's sexuality. Several dismissed the question as offensive.
But in an interview published Wednesday in The Atlantic, Mehlman comes clean, saying it has “taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life” and “It was very hard, personally,” in reference to his remaining in the closet during his political career.
For Rogers, who first outed Mehlman in 2004, the news was vindication.
“It's always nice to know that my reporting is validated as correct, even if the media has been hiding it for six years,” he said in a blog post at his website BlogActive.com.
Mehlman, who has since traded politics to become an executive vice-president with the New York City-based private equity firm KKR, said he decided to come out of the closet because he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage.
Rogers' Roy Cohn Award recognizes high-profile gay men and lesbians who work against the interests of the gay community.
He called Bush's 2004 Mehlman-managed re-election campaign: “the most homophobic national campaign in history.”
“Ken Mehlman is horridly homophobic and no matter how orchestrated his coming out is, our community should hold him accountable for his past.”
Rogers is best know for calling former senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) a hypocritical gay man when he accused him of sexual encounters with men in a Washington D.C. public restroom long before his infamous 2007 arrest in a Minneapolis airport restroom sex sting operation.
The Roy Cohn Award is named after a central figure of the 1950s McCarthy hearings. Senator Joseph McCarthy started a wave of panic when he claimed the State Department had been infiltrated by communists. Cohn helped McCarthy prosecute the alleged communists, which fueled the hysteria and blacklisting that followed. McCarthy and his team also targeted gays and lesbians. Cohn denied rumors of being gay even after he was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984, claiming he was dying of liver cancer.