By: Lisa Keen/Keen News Service—
In a surprise announcement, U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, a Democratic candidate for governor next year, acknowledged that he is gay.
Michaud (pronounced Mee-show), 58, said he was making the acknowledgement publicly because of “whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls” by opponents seeking to gain some advantage in next year’s gubernatorial race by outing him as gay.
“Yes, I am. But why should it matter?” wrote Michaud in an op-ed submitted to the Bangor Daily News, Portland Press Herald, and Associated Press Sunday evening. “Growing up in a large Franco-American Catholic family, it’s never been in my nature to talk about myself. I write this now merely to let my opponents and the outside interests who fund them know that I am not ashamed of who I am. And if seeing someone from my background, in my position, openly acknowledge the fact that he’s gay makes it a little bit easier for future generations to live their lives openly and without fear, all the better.”
In a video interview with the Portland Press Herald Monday, Michaud indicated he made his decision very recently to come out and informed his family of his decision only Sunday. [pullquote]“Growing up in a large Franco-American Catholic family, it’s never been in my nature to talk about myself. I write this now merely to let my opponents and the outside interests who fund them know that I am not ashamed of who I am. —U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud [/pullquote]
“It was a very difficult decision,” said Michaud. “It was a personal decision and one I wish I didn’t have to make, but the fact that there was, you know, suspicions out there, push-poll, I thought it was important to let the people of the state of Maine know upfront. That’s why I made the decision to say, ‘Yes, I am gay.’”
The Herald reported that “Michaud has long sidestepped questions about his sexuality, leading some of his ideological opponents to afix a political motive to his announcement.” Among the motives offered were that Michaud was attempting to attract progressive voters away from independent candidate Eliot Cutler, a popular politician with a more liberal record.
Michaud, a former mill worker who represents Maine’s largest geographic and more conservative district, had a 100 percent score with the Human Rights Campaign in the first two terms of his first five terms, then 85, 97, and 95 in subsequent terms. The Bangor paper noted that in 2004, he told Project Vote Smart that marriage should be limited to one man and one woman.
BUT PROJECT VOTE Smart website and HRC records indicate a mostly pro-gay record for Michaud. He voted against a federal constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, declined support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act when it didn’t include gender identity, and voted for repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. But he did not co-sponsor a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Michaud is running against independent Cutler and the ultra-conservative Republican incumbent, Paul LePage, for the governor’s office.
Michaud joins one other openly gay candidate for governor next year: Heather Mizeur, a delegate in the Maryland state house, running there.
His inclusion means there are now seven openly LGBT members of the U.S. House.
© 2013 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.