Mike Michaud, a six-term Democratic congressman aiming to supersede current Republican Governor Paul LePage, has come out as gay.
In an OP/ED article published in several news outlets, Michaud wrote that he believes his adversaries are attempting to use a “whisper campaign” to encourage voters to question his sexuality, and pull focus from relevant matters.
“Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: ‘Yes I am. But why should it matter?’” wrote Michaud.
Currently, the race is between Michaud, LePage, and Independent candidate Eliot Cutler. Michaud did not identify who he believes may be responsible for the whisper campaign. However, Cutler came forward to deny any involvement, and affirmed that Michaud’s statement should not reduce his eligibility as a candidate.
LePage’s campaign declined comment.
Maine has vastly progressed in LGBT rights in the past decade, and it remains unclear if Michaud’s disclosure will have much if any affect on his campaign. The “Pine Tree State” legalized same-sex marriage in December 2012, allows single LGBT persons and same-sex couples to petition to adopt, and penalizes employment and housing discrimination.
“That may seem like a big announcement to some people,” Michaud wrote. “For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation mill worker of a lifelong Mainer. One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine.”
Michaud was previously employed at the Great Northern Paper Company for more than two decades. He is currently a member of the United Steelworkers, is one of the few congressmen to have never attended college, and is part of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democratic congressional representatives who identify as moderates and conservatives.
“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,” he added. “That’s a value I know most Mainers share.”
Michaud is now the seventh openly LGBT member of the House of Representatives; if he wins the 2014 election, he will make history as the first openly gay governor of a US state.