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by Chris Bodenner

With partisans pouncing on the former chairman's record of impeding gay rights (and rightly so), this reader's perspective is crucial to understanding the full scope of this historic moment. He writes:

Like Mehlman, I also came out in my early forties. Although my partner, who came out in his teens, does not understand how it is possible to remain closeted and clueless so long, having folks who everyone thinks they know suddenly come out of the closet is critical.  Having formed opinions about the values and personal character of these late-arriving gays, colleagues who are prejudiced against gay people have a dilemma:  Do they go with their understanding of the individual or do they go with their prejudice? 

In my case, a good number of folks who dismissed or decried the existence of gays as unacceptable discovered they were working with one.  Several were clearly transformed. They went from thinking about how to fix me up with a woman to trying to reconcile their past understanding of gay people.  Mehlman is in a position to knock some folks back in their chairs and rethink their positions on gay people - and their civil rights.

(Photo: Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman listens to U.S. President George W. Bush while he delivers remarks to the RNC Eagles 30th Birthday Celebration October 25, 2005 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. About 260 people attended the fund-raiser which pulled in more than $1 million for the RNC. By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.)

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