Jim McGreevey

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One-term governor of New Jersey.

James McGreevey had politics burning in his blood from a young age. After serving in the New Jersey Assembly from 1990-1991, he resigned due to his sense that tax increases were causing a backlash among voters. He became mayor of Woodbridge and served in the state senate from 1994-1997. In 1997 he nearly beat incumbent Republican governor Christie Todd Whitman. In 2001 he defeated the Republican nominee, Bret Schundler, by 15% of the vote.

McGreevey's tenure was a benchmark of progressive politics. On his watch, New Jersey became the first state in the nation to fund stem cell research, and he heavily lobbied for a domestic partnership plan that was passed and signed into law in January 2004. By taxing millionaires and casinos, he managed to pare down a massive deficit without cutting spending for social programs. He was also an early endorsee of grassroots Presidential candidate Howard Dean.

Unfortunately, his term was mired in corruption and gaffes from the start. Various aides resigned and various close allies were put under federal investigation. McGreevey himself was untouched, but watched as his popularity sank to record lows.

Finally, in August 2004, after learning of a claim being filed by former lover and appointee Golan Cipel, McGreevey shocked America by holding a press conference to announce that he was gay, he had had an extramarital affair with another man, and that he was resigning from office effective November 15, 2004. The most lurid and damaging charges from Cidel were yet to be hashed out, but the conference was a momentous and incredibly bittersweet moment for gay Americans. McGreevey is, at least until his resignation, the highest-ranking openly gay elected official in the United States.

Text of the speech:

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 a 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.

In this, the 47th year of my life, it 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 a tradition of civil liberties, the greatest tradition of civil liberties in the world, and 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 an 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 am 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 Nov. 15 of this year.

I am 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.

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