This was published in the New York Times on Sunday. Link
It must have been one of the most difficult decisions he’d ever made.
I Still Have Work to Do
By JAMES E. McGREEVEY
renton – Ten days ago, I made a very difficult personal decision to announce my sexuality and resignation as governor of New Jersey. I also apologized to my wife for my failure to respect the covenant of our marriage, and to the citizens of New Jersey for allowing my professional decisions to be distracted by my personal life. I accepted full responsibility for the sins, transgressions and errors in judgment I exhibited during my tenure and will work to correct the consequences.
To all those many thousands of individuals, Republican and Democrat, who called with words of kindness, I simply say thank you. If any good is to come from this episode – as distinct from the accomplishments of my administration – hopefully, it is that New Jersey and increasingly America recognizes that sexuality is an individual imprint and not a statement of competency and capability.
While there are many different and sometimes competing influences, it is my humble hope that my “coming out” could, in some small way, help those gay Americans who have yet to become open with their sexuality. To be gay, for me, was not a choice, but simply stating a reality. Now at peace with arguably one of the most important truths of my life, it is my prayer that I will now be free to live openly and integrate my sexuality with my daily life. This integration will hopefully help my actions, my thoughts and my heart to be in alignment going forward, keeping me from the pitfalls of a divided self or secret truths.
Much has been said about my decision not to resign immediately, but to set Nov. 15 as the effective date of my resignation. My initial inclination was to accept responsibility, apologize and move on quickly. The more I reflected, however, the more I realized that leaving office abruptly would be an abandonment of responsibility.
I fully believe in the importance of elections within a participatory democracy. There can be no greater instrument for ensuring the strength and foundation of our system of government than the electoral process. Recognizing that principle, nonetheless, I can identify two specific reasons for choosing to remain governor until Nov. 15.
First, there are immediate public policy considerations and actions, which need to be completed. Simply put, there are demands and projects which need to be addressed and put in place now.
Having accepted responsibility for my actions by proffering my resignation didn’t necessarily mean that I was required to abandon midstream important initiatives that this administration holds dear.
For instance, our work to establish a stem cell institute between the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University is on the cusp of becoming a reality that will be a source of hope to those who are confronting incurable disease.
Our landmark legislation that preserves 400,000 acres of the pristine Highland watershed land now requires the establishment of a mechanism to protect drinking water for more than 5 million residents. A property tax constitutional commission must be appointed to provide for a balanced, thoughtful examination as to the prospects of property tax reforms. The irony is that having no political agenda allows me to make certain difficult decisions regarding the scope and structure of constitutional change.
Moreover, security concerns in light of the heightened level of terror alerts surrounding the Republican National Convention also argue for continuity of leadership.
The second major reason is that our 1947 state constitution establishes the Senate president as the official who would succeed a governor in an unexpired term. I acknowledge that the constitution would permit a special election to occur if I were to resign at or about the first week of September. But the constitution does not outline provisions or state requirements for the timing of a resignation. While the constitution does provide the mechanism for an election, the decision of when to make that resignation effective is a personal one.
I made this decision in the context of what I thought was in the best interest of the state. I truly believe that an orderly transition is important for continuity and stability. An acting governor is more inclined by title to finish the good work that has been started. Moreover, in this case, there will still be an election next year as called for in the constitution. There is a great cost to staging an election hastily; even a statewide race could get lost in a national election year and the momentum and investment made in still developing initiatives would most likely be diminished.
This decision was a difficult one and it was made with serious deliberation. While I see the merits of both sides of the debate, I stand firm with my decision. My obligation is to complete the important work already started and to achieve an effective transition of state government.
James E. McGreevey is the Democratic governor of New Jersey.