APN Chat with Former Governer James McGreevey of New Jersey


(APN) ATLANTA — “Working with children in some capacity,” will be the ongoing focus of former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, now that he has climbed off the ladder of elected office.

“14 million children tonight will go hungry, which is a travesty.  As we’re giving tax cuts to the top 1% of Americans, the fastest growing percentage of hungry are poor children,” McGreevey told Atlanta Progressive News in a phone interview from his hotel room.

Pushed to be more specific, “I’m working with two organizations,” McGreevey said. The Governor declined to name the organizations, but said, “I’ll make a final decision within probably the next eight weeks.”

In his public talk later that evening he said he is working with New Jersey Equality on the homosexual marriage issue; so, maybe that’s a clue as to one of the organizations.

He also criticized the Democratic Party for being silent on equality issues for homosexuals.

Another policy initiative he shared is “tough federal anti-bullying legislation.”  States currently have their own discretion, he said.  “Society has to take some responsibility,” he said, adding the law should protect youth who might be bullied for any reason.

Generally, he wants to pursue advocacy by way of “working with young people and working in collaboration with other organizations, and developing an understanding and support of gay youth… Sort of reaching out, because it’s an American problem.  It’s not a challenge for any one segment of the community,” he said during the interview.

Governor McGreevey was in Atlanta to promote his memoir, The Confession. McGreevey spoke before a packed house at Midtown’s Outwrite Bookstore. About 150 fans and otherwise intrigued persons listened as the Governor read passages from his book. Some posed questions, and dozens lined up for photographs and signed copies.

The well-written book, a copy of which was obtained by Atlanta Progressive News [courtesy of the Regan imprint of Harper Collins], continuously discusses packed concepts like faith, spirituality, love, and shame.

McGreevey juxtaposes two major concepts. The first he calls the authentic self, an integrated self; the other is a purported self, a shadow self, the one he let the people of New Jersey see.

“Dishonesty creates not only a lack of truth, but a tangle of truths,” McGreevey says on Page 5.  “I invented overlapping narratives about who I was.”

“Inauthenticity is endemic in American politics today… I have learned how the pressures of society seem to force so many of us into deep denial and disintegrated lives,” McGreevey writes on the same page.

In 2004, McGreevey shared with the world his identity as a homosexual man and resigned after being apparently blackmailed by his former lover, Golan Cipel.

McGreevey appointed Cipel to a key post in his Administration related to homeland security for the State of New Jersey. Cipel was not qualified for the position. Later, Cipel proceeded to deny his relationship with McGreevey altogether, leaving the Governor jilted.

Much of the corporate media has focused on McGreevey’s homosexuality, the Cipel scandal, and his coming out process.

This is in part why The Atlanta Progressive News is contributing to the conversation by instead focusing on his planned advocacy pursuits.

“The rhetoric against gays is so harmful,” Governor McGreevey said in the phone interview.

“It’s a twisted moral message, not based on respect.  It’s based on, I’m better than you, superiority, and arrogance,” McGreevey told Atlanta Progressive News.

“This is a political effort to remove the focus from the economic realities in America, and also to shift attention away from the demise of the middle class,” McGreevey said.

“It’s the ultimate cynicism: We’re gonna unite the Right on the basis of gays, guns, and God,” McGreevey said of the Republican strategy.

“We’re one people, one nation. Instead of engaging in hateful rhetoric, we have a larger task as a people, to provide loving, nurturing homes for children, to build strong communities for families straight and gay,” McGreevey said.

“The young people internalize these images, images of shame, that they’re not as good as straight kids, and that’s a destructive notion,” McGreevey said.

McGreevey told Atlanta Progressive News he planned to never be found out for his homosexual orientation.  “That was clearly the intent,” he said.

“The heart of the book is the need for self-honesty… the need for emotional maturity and psychological health based on honesty and a strong spiritual life,” McGreevey said in the interview.

McGreevey acknowledged the love, altruism, and supportiveness of his former wife, Dina, who stood by his side during his 2004 resignation speech.  “She was amazing, and we’re blessed to have a wonderful daughter [Jacqueline],” he said in the interview.  “Dina has been extraordinary.  It has been very difficult for her,” he said in his comments later.

McGreevey currently has a boyfriend, Mark O’Donnell.

McGreevey also has a second daughter, Morag, from his first of two marriages.  “Morag knows Mark. It’s just great.  It’s just wonderful,” he said.

As Governor, McGreevey was the nation’s third governor to sign a domestic partnership bill, he recalled during the book signing.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor and National Correspondent for Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com

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This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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