- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 9, 2004

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. James E. McGreevey yesterday delivered a farewell address in which he said he does not apologize “for being a gay American, but rather for having let personal feelings impact my decision-making.”

Mr. McGreevey is to step down Nov. 15, a resignation the Democrat announced in August. It was reported that he had a homosexual affair with the man he hired to head New Jersey’s Homeland Security department. The man, an Israeli citizen named Golan Cipel, who lacked the security clearance needed for the position, has denied being homosexual and has accused Mr. McGreevey of sexually harassing him.

Yesterday, Mr. McGreevey spoke of several accomplishments of his administration, but also expounded on the soul-searching that has occupied his time since making his nationally televised resignation announcement three months ago with his wife and parents by his side.

“I am sorry that I have disappointed the citizens of the state of New Jersey who gave me this enormous trust,” Mr. McGreevey said.

Mr. McGreevey highlighted reforms of the state’s child welfare agency, environmental protections and benefits for domestic partners as some of the top achievements of his administration. But the bulk of the speech focused on Mr. McGreevey’s beliefs about what he called the nation’s divisive political climate and his inner thoughts about being “an American who just happens to be gay and proud.”

“I don’t look back with bitterness, anger or sorrow. I look forward to seeking knowledge, a journey of self-discovery,” the governor told a crowd of about 400 people at a museum, at times quoting from philosophers and poets.

The governor also called for an end to partisan politics and blamed himself for contributing to a climate in which “we smile in person and then throw each other under the bus when we leave the room.”

“I’m not seeking to avoid my own contributions at times to this division,” he said. “The history of America is to expand civil liberties in a responsible and civil manner.”

Republicans have criticized Mr. McGreevey for staying in office so long after announcing his intention to resign. The decision to remain in office until Nov. 15 means Senate President Richard Codey, a Democrat, will serve out the final year of Mr. McGreevey’s term. Had Mr. McGreevey stepped down immediately in August, a special election would have been held.

Republicans also say his term was marked by ethical missteps made by both the governor and members of his administration.

“The reality is this governor disgraced himself and the state,” said Assembly Republican leader Alex DeCroce. “The only people who did exceptionally well under his administration were his friends and campaign contributors.”

Mr. McGreevey and his wife plan to move to separate homes.

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