Maine Democratic Candidate for Governor Comes Out as Gay

Outward
Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
Nov. 4 2013 10:02 AM

Maine Democratic Candidate for Governor Comes Out as Gay

Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine
Michaud out!

House of Representatives

Monday morning, Mike Michaud, the representative from Maine’s 2nd Congressional District and current Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner, came out as gay in the pages of the Portland Press Herald. (Not everyone saw it coming.) After noting that “whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls” have been used to make “people question whether I am gay,” Michaud declares:

Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: “Yes I am. But why should it matter?” 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 mill worker or a lifelong Mainer. One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine.
Advertisement

Michaud’s question is a good one: Why should it matter that he, or anybody else, is gay? If homosexuality isn’t sinful or embarrassing, there’s really no reason to hide it—or to highlight it as one’s top qualification. (Tammy Baldwin, America’s first openly gay senator, captured this equilibrium perfectly in her recent run.) Michaud clearly gets this. In his op-ed, after outing himself, the congressman goes on to describe his blue-collar, hardscrabble family history, as well as his legislative achievements and his gubernatorial platform. The word gay appears twice, sexual orientation once. The piece is one part coming-out letter, three parts stump speech.

Politically, Michaud’s announcement isn’t likely to sink him—or boost him. In 2012, Maine voters approved same-sex marriage, with 53 percent of voters on board, in a historic statewide referendum. (Mainers still support marriage equality by that same margin.) Most of the “no” votes on the referendum came from Michaud’s conservative-leaning congressional district, the second most rural in America, while the “yes” votes sprang mostly from the urban, coastal pockets in the state’s 1st Congressional District. That shouldn’t be a problem for Michaud: In the governor’s race, the congressman will be vying for these urban votes in addition to his home district’s votes. These pro-gay votes are likely to outweigh any anti-gay votes from Maine’s rural interior.

If Michaud’s sexuality won’t be a problem for him, it almost certainly will be for Maine’s current Tea Party-backed Gov. Paul LePage. LePage, a social conservative, is known for his churlish ad libs, including a possible anal rape joke about a Democratic state senator. Assuming LePage gets the Republican nomination, the 2014 Maine gubernatorial matchup is sure to be one of the rowdiest—if least competitive—elections of the year.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.