New Jersey Governor James McGreevey resigned in disgrace last week, after revealing that he’d had an extra-marital affair with another man. It wasn’t that he’s gay, or that he’d cheated on his wife, that forced the Governor to resign. Rather, it was a threatened sexual harrassment lawsuit by McGreevey’s former lover, Golan Cipel.
McGreevey and Cipel tell very different stories, and it will be some time before the truth comes out — assuming it ever does. But even construing the facts in McGreevey’s favor, the story is an ugly one. Cipel briefly held a six-figure job in the McGreevey administration as New Jersey’s Head of Homeland Security, a position for which Cipel was monumentally unqualified. As a non-U.S. citizen, Cipel wasn’t even eligible for the security clearances required to gain access to the classified information a Homeland Security director must inevitably deal with.
Cipel says McGreevey raped him, then offered him a cushy government job as the price of his silence. McGreevey says the relationship was consensual, and Cipel’s lawsuit is just thinly disguised blackmail. But the unavoidable conclusion, even accepting McGreevey’s version of it, is that Cipel was on the government payroll so that the Governor would have easy access to him for sex.
Never has such a high-profile politician come out and admitted he was gay. But despite McGreevey’s sudden candor, it’s clear this wasn’t a voluntary confession. Rather, after weeks of agonizing reflection, the Governor was forced to accept that the truth could no longer be concealed. The picture of a conflicted man living a private life of lies, while publicly trying to persuade the world that he was “normal,” is hardly the image the gay community wants to portray. McGreevey isn’t a poster-child for gay America. He’s just another corrupt politician who couldn’t keep his pants on.