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Former Republican National Committee Chairman Comes Out, Will Help Fight Prop 8

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Ken Mehlman was President George Bush's campaign manager in 2004. He also served as the Chair of the Republican National Committee when the party was more aggressively pushing for anti-gay measures in states. Now, out of politics and working as an executive vice-president for a New York City-based private equity firm, he's coming out as a gay man.

"It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life," he told Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic this week. "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."

Mehlman's orientation was always subject to rumor, but it wasn't until now he officially came out. While he wishes he went public earlier in life, which may have led the anti-gay marriage debate with the Republican in a different direction, and realizes not everyone will accept his justification for keeping it a secret, he's now on board. In late September, he'll participate in a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that is sponsoring the fight against Prop 8, which banned gay marriage in California, in federal court.

Academy Award winning writer Dustin Lance Black (Milk) said Mehlman's announcement is an "incredible coup" for AFER. "As a victorious former presidential campaign manager and head of the Republican Party, Ken has the proven experience and expertise to help us communicate with people across each of the 50 states."