While Mehlman chaired the GOP in the mid-2000s, the Republican Party platform officially opposed gay marriage and the Bush administration strongly supported anti-gay marriage amendments throughout the United States.
``It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,'' Mehlman told The Atlantic. ``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.''
Although Mehlman, now 44, publicly supported the Bush agenda, ``in private discussions with senior Republican officials, he beat back efforts to attack same-sex marriage,'' The Atlantic reported.
``Shock of shocks,'' said Michael Rogers, a Washington, D.C.-based gay blogger who helped disclose the 2006 Mark Foley congressional page scandal.
Last year, Rogers appeared in Outrage, a controversial documentary about powerful antigay politicians believed by many to be gay. The film featured a TV moment in 2006 when comedian Bill Maher outed Mehlman on Larry King Live. CNN edited out Maher's remark for the show's rebroadcast.
Rogers is highly critical of Mehlman, whom he described as ``ringleader'' of the GOP's antigay platform.
``Gay rights aren't important unless you're gay,'' Rogers said. ``He's a homophobe! I can't stand him, if you can't tell.''
Rogers described Mehlman and other gay Republicans as ``apologists.''
Democrats say gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people fare much better when their party is in power.
President Barack Obama's administration supported passage of the 2009 gay-inclusive Matthew Shepard hate crimes act and is seeking an end to the military's ``don't ask, don't tell'' policy. It also supports repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (passed in 1996 with support of then-President Bill Clinton), although Obama says he believes marriages should be between men and women.
Miami Beach-based finance writer Andrew Tobias, a gay man who since 1999 has been treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, becomes furious when some gays say it doesn't matter which party is in power.
``Even gay Republicans agree the Democratic Party is night-and-day better on gay issues. Dems in the House and Senate vote almost unanimously for our stuff; Republicans, almost unanimously against,'' Tobias said. ``I'm sure most Republican congressfolk don't hate gays -- they just don't want hate crimes protection extended to cover us or employment discrimination laws extended to cover us or Social Security benefits to our partners and children -- or to allow us to serve in the military or to marry.''