Monday, November 04, 2013

So Why Did No One Ever Out Mike Michaud The Way Aaron Schock, Lindsey Graham And Patrick McHenry Always Get Outed?


Maine Blue Dog Mike Michaud was never like the other Blue Dogs. He was always the one Blue Dog that didn't seem to belong in the hate-filled, bigoted pack of mostly Confederate reactionaries. He voted with progressives on healthcare, trade, social issues and his lifetime ProgressivePunch crucial score is a truly moderate 76.96-- not the 94.63 of a progressive like Maine's other Member of Congress, Chellie Pingree, but not the kinds of scores other Blue Dogs have racked up, like John Barrow (35.88), Henry Cuellar (40.44), Collin Peterson (40.52), Jim Matheson (42.05), Jim Costa (43.85) and Mike McIntyre (45.15). I remember watching with great interest back in 2007 when the House passed a hate crimes bill that included the LGBT community. Although 25 Republicans joined the Democrats in voting yes, 14 reactionary Blue Dogs voted no. All the homophobes who showed their hands that day were subsequently defeated for reelection of forced to resign by impending defeats except Collin Peterson (MN), Donnelly (IN), Mike McIntyre (NC). Michaud voted with the Democrats, not the Blue Dogs. That was often his story. I never understood why he was even in the group.

This morning, amid a whispering campaign by LePage operatives in Maine that he's gay, he came out of the closet, with an OpEd, in the state's biggest newspaper.
When I entered the race for governor, I did so because I love the state of Maine and am tired of seeing it dragged in the wrong direction. There was never any question that it would be a tough race, but I know I have the vision, the experience and the commitment to lead Maine forward.

Once I jumped to an early lead in the polls, I knew it was only a matter of time before individuals and organizations intent on re-creating the uncertainty that led to our current governor’s election three years ago would start their attacks. Already my opponents have tried to blatantly distort my support for a woman’s right to choose and my tireless commitment to our nation’s veterans.

So I wasn’t surprised to learn about the whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls some of the people opposed to my candidacy have been using to raise questions about my personal life. They want people to question whether I am gay.

Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: “Yes I am. But why should it matter?”

That may seem like a big announcement to some people. For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation mill worker or a lifelong Mainer. One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine.

Whether I was punching a time clock at Great Northern Paper Company for 29 years, serving the people of Maine in the state Legislature, or fighting for our nation’s veterans on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, my personal life has never factored into how I do my job.

That’s certainly not going to change if I’m elected governor. While I’ve grown and evolved over the course of my career, I’ve never lost sight of where I came from.

My father worked in the mill for 43 years. My grandfather before him for 40 years. I was the second of six children, and from a young age our parents instilled in us the values of hard work, integrity and honesty.

Most of all, I was brought up believing you should judge a person based on the content of his or her character, not by their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. That’s a value I know most Mainers share.

I first got into public service because the mill where I worked was polluting the Penobscot River that ran through my hometown. I ran for the state Legislature to clean up the river, and that’s exactly what we did.

Since then, I’ve devoted my career to fighting for all men and women in Maine, working across party lines to increase access to affordable health care, support our brave servicemen and women, protect American jobs and grow Maine’s economy through investment in research and development and clean, renewable energy.

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.

I don’t plan to make my personal life or my opponents’ personal lives an issue in this campaign. We’ve had enough negativity in our politics and too many personal attacks over the last few years. We owe it to the people of Maine to focus on how we get our state back on track.

...I plan to run a positive campaign that focuses on finding real solutions to the challenges we face, not just empty platitudes and old ideas repackaged in new rhetoric. The people of Maine deserve more than that. They deserve a governor they can be proud of.

I know this campaign will not be easy. I know I can’t do it alone. But I’m confident that our collective power can overcome the rancor and divisiveness threatening to pull our state apart. And that if we move forward, together, Maine’s best days are still ahead of us.
Michaud is the font runner and the early reaction to his announcement has been predictably positive. Even the very conservative Bangor Daily News headed it's editorial on the announcement Mike Michaud Is Gay. Welcome The Truth And Move On.
There’s nothing easy about telling the world you’re gay. Even now, with 50 percent of people nationwide saying they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry. Even after the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maine. Discrimination, even hate, still exists.

So U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s announcement Monday that he is gay is brave. It takes courage to share something so personal.

At the same time, Michaud, who is running for governor, was correct to ask in an OpEd published Monday by the Bangor Daily News, Portland Press Herald and The Associated Press, “Why should it matter?” For him, he wrote, “It’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation millworker or a lifelong Mainer.”

We urge people to welcome this truth and move on.

Michaud’s announcement should not-- and likely won’t-- change anything about how the six-term congressman, former state Senate president and 11-term former state lawmaker makes his case to voters about why he should be Maine’s next governor. And it shouldn’t change anything about the case his opponents make about why they should occupy the Blaine House for the next four years.

…Michaud is making the announcement about a year before the 2014 gubernatorial election. He’s making the announcement on his own terms. And by the time Maine residents cast their ballots, other, more important matters will be on their minds.

For us, we appreciate Michaud’s decision to be honest with Maine residents about who he is. We appreciate how difficult it was to decide to announce it, to make the announcement and to brace for the reaction. We also recognize today’s political reality that appears to have forced Michaud to have made something intensely personal just as intensely public.

In his OpEd, Michaud pledges to “run a positive campaign that focuses on finding real solutions to the challenges we face, not empty platitudes and old ideas repackaged in new rhetoric.”

It’s our hope that by announcing his sexual orientation to the world, it increases the likelihood Michaud will be able to do just that.
If he wins next year, which is likely, that will make him the first out governor anywhere in America. Although its conceivable that Heather Mizeur could win her gubernatorial race in Maryland-- more of a longshot-- on the same day. Oh, and the answer to the question in the title, no one ever outed Mike Michaud because he wasn't a hypocrite like Aaron Schock, Lindsey Graham and Patrick McHenry. Michaud wasn't cowering in the closet afraid to vote for LGBT equality. This morning after Michaud's announcement, I asked Mark Foley, whose coming-out was far more traumatic than Michaud's, what he thought about this development. Although he doesn't recall ever getting to know Michaud when they both served in Congress, he said that "living in the closet while serving in public life is a recipe for disaster and I applaud him for not allowing his opponents to whisper about something which has no effect on his character or ability to serve the great state of Maine."

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