Mike Michaud (D ME)
Out and Proud
by Denny Meyer
A friend of Mike Michaud
recently told him that, when he came out to his
mother "-at least it wasn't national news."
For Maine Congressman Michaud, it was. He
came out at the beginning of November in an
op-ed in the
Bangor Daily News,
which quickly went viral. He's not the
first openly gay out member of Congress, so why
should it matter? That question, in fact,
was the point and subtitle of his coming-out
op-ed. The fact is, he's running for
Governor of Maine.
It was not that long ago that
then Governor of New Jersey, came out publicly,
and in the same speech, he resigned. At
the time that I interviewed him, back in 2006,
he said, "...once you live
or show your truth there are negative
consequences. We value appearances over the
truth; we value form over substance; we value
societal norms over integrity."
A lot has
changed in the few short years since then.
James McGreevy was outed by scandal mongers
scenting the blood of bigotry. Now, in
2013, political opponents of Mike Michaud have,
apparently, attempted the same thing by
spreading rumors in an effort to derail his
campaign for the Governorship of Maine.
But times have rapidly changed. Right Wing
conservative's bigotry has taken a beating.
Since then, America has twice elected its first
Black President, Don't Ask Don't Tell has been
repealed along with the Defense of Marriage Act,
Gay and Lesbian patriots now serve openly and
proudly in our armed forces, and same sex
marriage is legal in sixteen states and the
Capitol. Mike Michaud, a candidate for
Governor in Maine, has come out before the
election, and its likely to be to his advantage
because a majority of Americans are now
disgusted with hate mongering. As a poll
cited on his website notes, a vast majority of
Mainers think that his being gay has no
relevance at all.
Signal is interested in Congressman Michaud not
simply because he's gay, but because he's the
ranking member of the House Committee on
Veterans Affairs. Sixteen percent of the
population of Maine, he noted, are veterans.
They let him know that vets are not being taken
care of, contrary to the prevailing belief.
When it comes to Congressional consideration of
the cost of our care, he's had to speak out and
point out that for those who have stepped
forward to put their lives on the line, "we have
to be there for them; we must take care of our
vets regardless of the cost; if we send men and
women to fight and die for us, we must take care
of them when they come back; that is the cost of
war." Among other coverage issues, he
successfully fought for the VA to care for those
affected by Agent Orange. Among the
initiatives he's involved in is the Advance
Appropriations Bill to provide the VA with
funding a year in advance, which would avoid a
negative effect on veterans benefits in the
event of another government shutdown, alleviate
the need for the VA to move from crisis to
crisis, and most importantly would help end the
backlog in processing veterans claims which
currently requires constant Congressional
importance to gay veterans, he is a cosponsor of
the Restore Honor Act, introduced by Reps Rangel
(D NY) and Pocan (D WI), which would streamline
and automate discharge upgrades for those given
Less Than Honorable discharges due to
representative of LGBT veterans groups, I
suggested that he also give consideration to
advocating LGBT veterans as a designated
minority which would provide for VA facility
LGBT Coordinators assuring that all rights and
benefits are provided; as well as issues
affecting transgender veterans such as VA
provision of sexual reassignment surgery.
that, as Governor of Maine, he will continue to
work on behalf of veterans both in Maine and
with other governors dealing with the shift in
the cost of caring for veterans from the federal
government to the states.
When I asked
him what he has to say to gay American Veterans,
he first of all insisted on thanking us for our
service. In light of the support he got
for coming out this month, he encourages 'coming
out' particularly for veterans whom he regards
as role models who, having worn the uniform,
have the respect of all Americans.
As such, he noted, we can set an example for all
Americans of all ages to be proud of who they
himself has set an example of courage for all to
see. In his coming-out
op-ed, he said,
"Yes, I'm gay, but why should it matter?"
To the voters of Maine, it shouldn't matter at
all. To all Americans it should matter
that he has the courage to run for Governor
proud of who he is, without shame or apology.
He has heard from Mainers of all ages and all
walks of life, from service members and
veterans, unionists, teachers and students, that
he has given them the courage to be proud of who