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No big media splash as Republican leader Ken Mehlman reveals he's gay

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The Washington Post, a mainstay of political coverage, devoted one paragraph to the news in the “Reliable Sources” gossip column on an inside page of the Style section. On the Web, the Post covered the announcement in its “Politics and Policy” blog. The New York Times placed a nine-paragraph story on page A-16 of its Washington edition. The Wall Street Journal did not have a story in the print edition but ran a brief item on a blog covering the private equity industry. Mehlman is now executive vice president of KKR, a New York City-based private equity firm. The announcement appeared in's “More Political News” section, after an item on protests Thursday by a flotilla of New England fisherman off the Obamas' vacation island.

Most major news organizations avoid referring to a person’s sexual orientation unless it has a direct link to the individual’s public policy responsibilities. As The Atlantic story notes, Mehlman’s leadership in the GOP came when President Bush’s strategic adviser, Karl Rove, was working with others in the party to ensure that antigay measures would appear on states' ballots in 2004 and 2006. It was seen at the time as an effort to solidify support from the party’s conservative base.

Mehlman told Politico, “One of the things I regret is that when I was in politics, I hadn’t come to terms with this part of my life.” He decided to disclose his sexual identity, he said, because he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage. Mehlman had helped raise funds for the American Foundation for Equal Rights. The group supports same-sex marriage and is suing to overturn California’s Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage.

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