New Jersey governor quits, comes out as gay
McGreevey announces resignation after telling of affair
Thursday, August 12, 2004 Posted: 8:33 PM EDT (0033 GMT)
New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey
(CNN) -- Dropping a political bombshell, New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey announced his resignation Thursday after revealing that he is gay and that he had an adulterous affair with a man.
With his wife standing by his side, McGreevey -- a father of two -- spoke in calm tones as he described his struggle with his sexuality, "a certain sense that separated me from others." It was something that he said began as a child.
"At a point in every person's life, one has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth in the world, not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is," McGreevey said.
"And so, my truth is that I am a gay American," the Democrat said.
Speaking at a packed news conference in the Statehouse in Trenton, New Jersey, McGreevey admitted to an affair with a man and asked for his family's forgiveness.
"It was wrong. It was foolish. It was inexcusable," he said.
And McGreevey said he was stepping down from the state's highest office.
"Given the circumstances surrounding the affair and its likely impact upon my family and my ability to govern, I have decided the right course of action is to resign," McGreevey said.
His resignation will take effect November 15, and State Senate President Richard Codey, a fellow Democrat, will serve the the remainder of his term, which ends in January 2006.
If McGreevey's resignation had taken effect before September 15, state law would have required a special gubernatorial election on November 2.
McGreevey said his affair and sexuality -- "if kept secret" -- would leave the governor's office "vulnerable to rumors, false allegations and threats of disclosure."
McGreevey did not identify the man with whom he had the affair.
One Democratic strategist close to McGreevey said his speech was "well delivered and, I think, well received. But given what's ahead for him, it's downhill from here."
Even as he acknowledged his sexuality, McGreevey spoke of the "suffering and anguish" he had brought to his family and friends, saying he would "almost rather have this moment pass.
"For this is an intensely personal decision and not one typically for the public domain," McGreevey said of his revelation. "Yet, it cannot and should not pass."
Once considered a rising star in Democratic circles, McGreevey, 47, served in the state Legislature and as mayor of the town of Woodbridge, New Jersey, before winning the governorship.
McGreevey won the seat in 2001 by a wide margin over former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler and took office in January 2002.
His administration has been buffeted by some scandal.
A Quinnipiac University poll released August 4 showed McGreevey's approval among state voters fell sharply after two Democratic fund-raisers were indicted on federal charges in July -- one of them accused of lining up prostitutes to discredit a witness in a tax fraud investigation, the other accused of extortion.
McGreevey and his wife, Dina, have a 2-year-old daughter, and he has another daughter from a previous marriage.
McGreevey signed a bill in January that created same-sex domestic partnerships in New Jersey, but urged New Jersey officials to abide by current laws when the city of Asbury Park issued a marriage license to a same-sex couple in May.
In July, he condemned a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit marriage to heterosexual couples as "a divisive and drastic tactic."
McGreevey adviser Hank Sheinkopf said the governor decided to resign after meeting with advisers and friends and even wrote his speech himself.
"It was the least scripted thing I've seen in 35 years in this business," Sheinkopf said. "What happens next is a transition that keeps things rolling forward, and keeps some of his initiatives in place."
McGreevey: 'I am a gay American'
Thursday, August 12, 2004 Posted: 10:13 PM EDT (0213 GMT)
TRENTON, New Jersey (CNN) -- James McGreevey held a news conference Thursday to announce his resignation. This is a transcript of his remarks.
Throughout my life, I have grappled with my own identity, who I am. As a young child, I often felt ambivalent about myself, in fact, confused.
By virtue of my traditions, and my community, I worked hard to ensure that I was accepted as part of the traditional family of America. I married my first wife, Kari, out of respect and love. And together, we have a wonderful, extraordinary daughter. Kari then chose to return to British Columbia.
I then had the blessing of marrying Dina, whose love and joy for life has been an incredible source of strength for me. And together, we have the most beautiful daughter.
Yet, from my early days in school, until the present day, I acknowledged some feelings, a certain sense that separated me from others. But because of my resolve, and also thinking that I was doing the right thing, I forced what I thought was an acceptable reality onto myself, a reality which is layered and layered with all the, quote, "good things," and all the, quote, "right things" of typical adolescent and adult behavior.
Yet, at my most reflective, maybe even spiritual level, there were points in my life when I began to question what an acceptable reality really meant for me. Were there realities from which I was running? Which master was I trying to serve?
I do not believe that God tortures any person simply for its own sake. I believe that God enables all things to work for the greater good. And this, the 47th year of my life, is arguably too late to have this discussion. But it is here, and it is now.
At a point in every person's life, one has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth in the world, not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is.
And so my truth is that I am a gay American. And I am blessed to live in the greatest nation with the tradition of civil liberties, the greatest tradition of civil liberties in the world, in a country which provides so much to its people.
Yet because of the pain and suffering and anguish that I have caused to my beloved family, my parents, my wife, my friends, I would almost rather have this moment pass.
For this is an intensely personal decision, and not one typically for the public domain. Yet, it cannot and should not pass.
I am also here today because, shamefully, I engaged in adult consensual affair with another man, which violates my bonds of matrimony. It was wrong. It was foolish. It was inexcusable.
And for this, I ask the forgiveness and the grace of my wife.
She has been extraordinary throughout this ordeal, and I am blessed by virtue of her love and strength.
I realize the fact of this affair and my own sexuality if kept secret leaves me, and most importantly the governor's office, vulnerable to rumors, false allegations and threats of disclosure.
So I am removing these threats by telling you directly about my sexuality.
Let me be clear, I accept total and full responsibility for my actions. However, I'm required to do now, to do what is right to correct the consequences of my actions and to be truthful to my loved ones, to my friends and my family and also to myself.
It makes little difference that as governor I am gay. In fact, having the ability to truthfully set forth my identity might have enabled me to be more forthright in fulfilling and discharging my constitutional obligations.
Given the circumstances surrounding the affair and its likely impact upon my family and my ability to govern, I have decided the right course of action is to resign.
To facilitate a responsible transition, my resignation will be effective on November 15 of this year.
I'm very proud of the things we have accomplished during my administration. And I want to thank humbly the citizens of the state of New Jersey for the privilege to govern.
PROFILE GOV. JAMES E. MCGREEVEY, D - NEW JERSEY
BORN: August 6, 1957, Jersey City, New Jersey
EDUCATION: BA, Columbia University, 1978; JD, Georgetown University, 1981; MA, Harvard University, 1982
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Governor of New Jersey, 2002-2004; State Senate District 19, 1994-1997; Assembly member 19th District, Middlesex, 1990-1991
OTHER EXPERIENCE: Assistant prosecutor, Middlesex County, 1982-83; executive director, New Jersey Parole Board, 1985-87; lobbyist, Merck & Co., 1987-89.
FAMILY: Married to Dina Matos McGreevey, with a daughter; has a second daughter from a previous marriage.