New Jersey Governor Resigns Over Gay Affair
Thu. August 12, 2004 12:00 AM by 365gay.com
"I am a gay American," McGreevey said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. McGreevey said that he was sorry he had not come out before and that he had a secret affair. He told reporters that he had grappled with his identity for years.
McGreevey, the married father of two said his resignation would be effective Nov. 15.
The governor said that he was stepping down not because he is gay, but because he had committed adultery. He said that he believed that a gay person could be a governor, he added that he felt his extra-martial affair put him and his office in a vulnerable situation.
His announcement makes McGreevey the highest ranking politician to identify himself as gay.
"It's obviously an amazing announcement," Michael Adams, Lambda Legal's director of education told 365Gay.com.
"The very human way in which he made his announcement may help other gay Americans to come out," said Adams.
That sentiment was echoed by Cheryl Jacques, the president of the Human Rights Campaign.
"Coming out is a deeply personal journey and Governor McGreevey today showed enormous courage. We are hopeful that, like millions of other American families, Governor McGreevey and his family will come to a place of understanding."
Gay Democrats also praised McGreevey's courage.
"He has demonstrated a strong record of support for our community and we are confident that the incoming governor will be as strong," John Marble, the spokesperson for the National Stonewall Democrats told 365Gay.com.
Senate President Richard Codey, an Essex County Democrat, will become acting governor until the next gubernatorial election in November 2005.
"Codey has always been very positive in the past of gay issues," Marble noted.
McGreevey, a Democrat took office 2 1/2 years ago, and despite inheriting a $5 billion budget deficit, he steadfastly refused to boost income taxes for most New Jerseyans, instead raising taxes on millionaires, casinos and cigarettes.
But he has been dogged by several scandals involving fund-raising.
Among those caught up in recent scandals were his first chief of staff and former counsel; a top Democratic fund-raiser and former high school classmate; and real estate developer Charles Kushner, McGreevey's biggest campaign contributor, who was charged with trying to thwart a federal campaign-finance investigation.
McGreevey rose from suburban mayor to state chief executive by his tenacious pursuit of party politics, maintaining a power base days after he narrowly lost to Republican Christie Whitman in 1997.
McGreevey never truly stopped that campaign until he won in November 2001, beating Republican Bret Schundler by 15 percentage points.
Born in Jersey City, McGreevey graduated from Columbia University in 1978. He earned a law degree from Georgetown University in 1981 and a master's degree in education from Harvard University a year later.
After briefly serving as a county prosecutor, McGreevey became a lobbyist for a pharmaceutical company, then a state government official. While in the Legislature, McGreevey voted for Gov. Jim Florio's $2.8 billion tax hike that prompted a voter rebellion against Democrats.
By resigning in November, McGreevey negates the need for a special election to fill the remainder of his term which expires in January 2006. The resignation would take place approximately two weeks after the presidential election.
He becomes the second governor to resign in weeks, following the resignation in June of Connecticut GOP Gov. John Rowland amid corruption investigations and threats of impeachment.
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