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© 2004 The Beast

New Jersey Governor James McGreevey’s name has surfaced through the bog of media on a bubble of consciousness. He recently shacked his constituency, and the nation, with the announcement that he is, like millions of others, “a gay American.” He is married, and has two daughters, and is homosexual.

He admitted to having an extramarital affair with another man. It’s believed that this was prompted by a threatened sexual harassment suit from a man on the inside. His announcement came with a lot of pain, for himself, his family, and along with that, a resignation of his office.

You’ve heard all that by now. But what most media outlets won’t be telling you is that this man is a beacon of shining light in American politics. 47-year-old McGreevey is not only terribly well educated, with an undergraduate degree from Columbia, a law degree from Georgetown, and a Master of Education from Harvard, but also his tenures as a Mayor, an Assemblyman, and this, his first term as Governor, have been more fruitful for the citizens of his state than any asshole who’s been running Buffalo or New York for the past decade. In his first year, he managed to balance $14 million in budget gaps without increasing sales or income tax. In 2003, while the national economy plunged, New Jersey broke trend and actually increased their workforce by over 37,000. He’s also reformed education, healthcare, and environmental laws in New Jersey.

And the man is gay. Three big motherfucking cheers for him. Put up against Pataki, Masiello, or Giambra, he makes them look like illiterate gangsters with nothing but toothy grins for political records and rap sheets that dwarf the worst inmates at County. And he did all of this while concealing a secret identity. I’d take this guy in a heartbeat to be Mayor of Buffalo or Governor of New York, gay, straight, or Martian. If he can balance a budget and put some decent changes into place, we should be putting his face a coin.

McGreevy will pay dearly, however, for his double life. His resignation is scheduled for November 15, which will allow the State Senate President, Richard Codey, a fellow Democrat, to take authority as governor. The New Jersey constitution dictates that, were McGreevy to resign this month, a special election would be required to fill the rest of his term, so Republicans want him to step down immediately, precipitating a quick and uninformed election in the scandal’s wake. The leader of NJ’s Senate minority, Leonard Lance, is running for governor in 2005, but he wants his chance now, and is using one man’s disclosure and freedom from blackmail to push a hurried campaign a year early. The reasoning behind the push for McGreevy’s immediate resignation needs not be said aloud to be understood: it is an intolerable situation for a whole state to be run by a gay man, is the crux of it. Just another example of people trying to wriggle their way into power and office on whatever ticket they can ride.

Mcgreevy did engage in an extramarital affair; not unheard of but not too cool either. He surely shouldn’t have gotten married and had kids in the first place, but that’s America: we’re not ready to accept gay people as they are, but we deride them as ‘dishonest’ when it turns out they’ve been faking, which is exactly what we tacitly require of them. Or maybe it’s not McGreevy’s deception that has earned him the ire of our nation, but his inability to fully commit to the lie.

While conservative Christians argue that homosexuality is a choice, they really know that’s bullshit. After all, what kind of idiot would make that choice? It’s like choosing to be a midget. Homosexuality, like dwarfism, is just something that happens to you, and you’re left to figure out a way to live with it. The fundies know this, but the “choice” argument plays better in the media than the simple truth, which is that they just hate gay people. They know homosexuals will always exist, but would prefer it if they’d just play along and pretend to be straight (or join the clergy), so ‘normal’ people don’t have to acknowledge them.

It’s no surprise, for the same reason, that President Bush would want to leave his indelible stamp of fascism on the Constitution by proposing an amendment prohibiting gay marriage. Bush’s “no fags” amendment was obviously doomed from the start, as Republican strategists certainly knew, but it made an effective sideshow to distract narrow-minded, judgmental voters from the administration’s obvious shortcomings, plus it gave them yet another boogieman, the legitimized queer, to rally homophobes behind Bush. Of course, Kerry is against same sex marriage also, so there’s not much hope there.

On the same day as McGreevey’s announcement, 4,000 gay marriages were annulled by the California Supreme Court. The couples were given their marriage licenses by the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, who claimed that current legislation was discriminatory. And he is absolutely right; it plainly is, with the same definition already enacted into law as the President would have our Constitution read; that marriage is a union between man and woman. The ruling was proper in legal terms; that is to say that Newsom was indeed breaking statute, and the marriages were never legal in the first place.

True enough. Newsom did break a law, one that he felt needed to be broken. It remains to be seen how much longer the same old state law remains in its Jim Crow fashion; Gov. Schwarzenegger released comments supporting the high court’s ruling and noting that the legal intent of the case was not to officially bar the marriage of same sex couples, but his opinion of the issue has been made plain in other statements, like this one about Newsom:

"We cannot have mayors all of a sudden go hand out licenses for various things. In the next city, it'll be handing out licenses for assault weapons. In the next, it'll be someone handing them out to sell drugs.''

Yeah, that’s an obvious consequence of letting gay folk get hitched. In fact, I’d bet real money that the action-hero Governor would be more comfortable dealing with roving gangs of Uzi-toting teens than gay couples who share a surname.

It is expected that, very soon, a referendum will be introduced to change the laws. But Southern California will probably stall progress on the matter for years to come.

This issue of reform is not new, but has been carefully swept under the rug by those who can’t stand to see people embrace their freedom to be different. The Netherlands clocked in as the first country to remove all barriers between straight and gay marriage in 2000, with surprising majorities in both houses of their parliament. Gay marriage reform is being pushed by a handful of states in this nation, and Canada as well.

Perhaps this sort of progressive optimism means we all should just move to Amsterdam, and to hell with Buffalo. Or, maybe it means we’ll have to endure all the social and moral infringements we can, until there is another full swing civil revolution. Remembering Montgomery, Alabama, and the official end of segregation, we may yet see the future of social America and the beginning of new civil rights movements. The question is, how long will that take? I’m not sure, but the protests at the Republican National Convention in New York next week seem like a good place to start.



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