American Foundation for Equal Rights

BuzzFeed: Longtime Bush Aide Leads Effort To Advance Conservative Case For Marriage Equality

In one of the strongest shows of support for marriage equality ever demonstrated on the political right, more than 80 prominent Republicans have signed on to a Supreme Court brief laying out the conservative case for marriage equality — and elevating the longtime Bush aide behind the effort.

Ken Mehlman, who served as an adviser to President George W. Bush and chairman of the Republican National Committee, has become a leading Republican voice for marriage equality since coming out as a gay man in 2010. But after spending years building the coalition of lawmakers, former governors, and high-level GOP operatives who signed the brief to be filed this week, Mehlman now finds himself at the center of the national marriage debate.


Mehlman has also received plaudits from the head of the nation’s largest LGBT rights organization, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin.

“Ken’s work on this is incredible. We wouldn’t have that brief were it not for [him],” said Griffin, who founded the American Foundation for Equal Rights in 2009 to advance the lawsuit against Proposition 8, and has long promoted adding a bipartisan image to the marriage equality cause.

Griffin called the brief “a dream come true.”

“When … we brought in Ted Olson to this case, it was really a first. A prominent Republican not only taking a position in support of marriage equality, but really helping to lead the charge with regard to the Proposition 8 case,” Griffin said. “Shortly thereafter, Ken came into our effort and we asked him to join our board of directors. Ted and Ken helped open the doors, and this brief is really the realization of that work and Ken’s time, energy, effort, relationships.”

Mehlman’s work on marriage equality in recent years came after he faced significant criticism for his work for President George W. Bush during the 2004 election, in which 11 states voted to amend their state constitutions to ban same-sex couples from marrying, and at the RNC during the time Bush supported a federal amendment to ban such marriages.

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