Akin Gump, Gay, Gay Marriage, Lawyer of the Day, Politics

Lawyer of the Gay, Er, Day: Ken Mehlman

Ken Mehlman: Yup, he's gay.

Back in June, we wrote about the fabulous Chelsea apartment snapped up by prominent Republican lawyer Ken Mehlman. Although his résumé is strewn with achievements — he’s a 1991 graduate of Harvard Law School (just like President Obama), a former partner at Akin Gump, and a current executive vice-president at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (ka-ching!) — Mehlman is most well-known as former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Because Mehlman settled in Chelsea — and took up residence in the Chelsea Mercantile building, home to such A-list gays as Marc Jacobs and Lance Bass — we couldn’t resist a little innuendo. Despite his status as a leading official of the Republican Party, which hasn’t always been down with the gays, Mehlman has long been dogged by rumors that he is a homosexual.

Now we don’t have to worry about Mehlman suing us for defamation — and litigating the interesting issue of whether calling someone a big old nelly queen constitutes defamation per se in New York. Mehlman just publicly admitted that he’s gay, in an interview with Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic. (The publication of the interview may have been accelerated, thanks to a nudge from Mike Rogers of BlogActive.)

Let’s take a closer look at the pink elephant in the room….

Why did Mehlman decide to come out of his (fabulous walk-in) closet? Recent legal developments, including Judge Vaughn Walker’s striking down of Proposition 8, apparently played a role:

[Mehlman decided to come out] because, now in private life, he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage and anticipated that questions would arise about his participation in a late-September fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that supported the legal challenge to California’s ballot initiative against gay marriage, Proposition 8.

But it wasn’t just politics; it was also a deeply personal decision:

“It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” said Mehlman, now an executive vice-president with the New York City-based private equity firm, KKR. “Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I’ve told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they’ve been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that’s made me a happier and better person. It’s something I wish I had done years ago.”

We have no doubt, Mr. Mehlman. Imagine how much action you could have been getting over the years!

But still, even though you’re coming out at 44, which is positively geriatric in the gay world — belated happy birthday, by the way (it was on August 21) — we think you’ll do just fine in the dating world (assuming the rumors that you’re single and looking are true). You’re smart, successful, and reasonably attractive. And, perhaps most importantly in our community, you’re rich, and famous, and have a great apartment. A $3.8 million condo in the heart of Chelsea will go a long way towards dispelling the animosity that some Manhattan gays — you know, the super-liberal, self-righteous types — might harbor towards you as a Republican.

To read more about Ken Mehlman’s coming out process, as well as the tension between his personal life and his political work — he explains that he tried, behind the scenes, to keep the Republican Party from attacking same-sex marriage — check out the full interview in The Atlantic. It’s a very interesting read.

P.S. Speaking of the gay legal community, Lavender Law, the National LGBT Bar Association’s annual conference and career fair, is taking place this week in Miami. It’s a fun and informative event, as well as an excellent networking opportunity. I’ll be moderating a Friday morning plenary panel on LGBT issues and the Obama Administration. Hope to see you there — yes, you too, Ken!

Bush Campaign Chief and Former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman: I’m Gay [The Atlantic]
Ken Mehlman is coming out [BlogActive]

Earlier: Lawyerly Lairs: Ken Mehlman Moves to Chelsea

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