WASHINGTON -- Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) announced he's gay in an Op-Ed article published by Maine newspapers Monday, making him the seventh openly gay member of Congress.
The five-term representative, currently running for governor, said that he was prompted to speak out by "whisper campaigns" alleging that he was gay.
"Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer. 'Yes I am. But why should it matter?'" Michaud wrote. "That may seem like a big announcement to some people. For me, it's just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation millworker or a lifelong Mainer."
Citing his Franco American Catholic upbringing as one of the reasons for his silence on his sexuality, Michaud said he hopes to inspire others to be open about themselves.
"And if seeing someone from my background, in my position, openly acknowledge the fact that he's gay makes it a little bit easier for future generations to live their lives openly and without fear, all the better," he wrote.
Michaud has supported civil unions and opposed constitutional bans on gay marriage in the past, earning him a score of 95 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's congressional scorecard. The only mark against him is because he has not sponsored a full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.
If Michaud wins the upcoming gubernatorial election against Republican incumbent Paul LePage and independent candidate Eliot Cutler, he would become the nation's second openly gay governor, the first being former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey.
The congressman leads in several polls, although the election is still a year away.