By Bob Roehr
Who was Jim McGreevey? is likely to be a trivia question some years down the road. But for several weeks at the end of the summer, the nation was stunned and titillated by stories of the then Governor of New Jersey.
The tale began with a hastily called televised news conference on Aug. 12 where McGreevey announced, “I am a gay American.” The twice married father of two was surrounded by his family.
The shocker was meant to draw attention away from another part of his statement, circumstances surrounding the affair and its likely impact “upon my family and my ability to govern,” which would cause him to resign as Governor.
First in dribs, then torrents, the soap opera-ish details of an adulterous affair with Golan Cipel spewed forth. The Gov had met Cipel on a trade mission to Israel and soon had him back in the states, getting big bucks for little work, at least on the clock.
The prime line on Cipel’s resume became that of New Jersey’s homeland security czar, at the fifth highest salary in state government. It was a position for which he was wildly unqualified. But the spotlight wasn’t good for the relationship, the pair appear to have squabbled, and Cipel was slid into a job in the private sector.
McGreevey claimed that he was being blackmailed. Cipel claimed that he was heterosexual and that he was offended by and resisted the Gov’s sexual advances despite reports of his decided disheveled and casual look at an early morning breakfast at the Governor’s mansion. For a while, he threatened to sue for sexual harassment.
Then they both learned that neither side wins in a mud-throwing contest. The reporters wept, and went away.
Elizabeth Birch, former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, joined Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in January. It turned out not to be a long-term career move.
Cheryl Jacques succeeded Birch at HRC, a move that proved to be only moderately longer term. Philosophical differences led to she and HRC parting ways by the end of the year.
Dave Noble waited until after the elections to step down as executive director of National Stonewall Democrats, where he had served for two years.
David Catania left the Republican Party earlier, in September. The DC city council member and one of most prominent openly gay Republicans could take no more of the party’s gay bashing and anti-urban agenda. He became an Independent.
Lupe Valdez was elected Nov. 2 as Dallas County sheriff in Texas. This makes her the first female Latina lesbian Democrat to ever hold the post, setting four precedents at once.