Thursday, November 11, 2004

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — From advocating for homosexual rights to pushing for stem-cell research, life beyond the governorship appears to be full of possibilities for James E. McGreevey.

As the soon-to-be former governor contemplates a future that begins after his resignation at midnight Monday, his options are seemingly wide open. Advocates are courting him to take up their causes, and he already has agreed to be a volunteer for a national education organization, said his friend, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak.

“After Thanksgiving, we’re going to sit down and talk about what he’s going to do with the rest of his life,” Mr. Lesniak said Tuesday, a day after the governor gave a farewell speech. “There are no plans beyond that.”

The Democratic governor announced his planned resignation Aug. 12 during a speech in which he acknowledged being homosexual and having an affair, declaring, “My truth is that I am a gay American.”

Senate President Richard J. Codey will become acting governor at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, filling out the term until January 2006. He will take the oath of office at his home in West Orange sometime Sunday, said his spokeswoman, Kelley Heck.

Some personal concerns are on Mr. McGreevey’s agenda: tending to his ill parents, helping his wife and daughter move into their new house in Springfield while he takes up residence in Rahway, and taking time off.

“A lot of healing has to go on in that family,” Mr. Lesniak said. “They want to use this to get closer as a family, not farther apart. There was a barrier before because of the governor’s denial of his sexuality.”

Homosexual rights groups would be pleased to have Mr. McGreevey take up their cause. Stem-cell research proponents already are knocking at his door. Mr. McGreevey was instrumental in establishing a stem-cell research center in New Jersey.

Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the homosexual rights group Empire State Pride Agenda, said the nation’s only openly homosexual governor would be a welcome spokesman. Mr. McGreevey appeared at the group’s fund-raiser after revealing his homosexuality.

“I’ve spoken to the governor and told the governor in the next several months when he settles down, I think his is going to be a powerful voice for [homosexual] issues,” Mr. Van Capelle said.

Michael Adams, spokesman for the homosexual civil rights group Lambda Legal, said Mr. McGreevey’s tarnished 35-month tenure would not taint his star power within the homosexual community or among other special-interest groups.

“The reality is, we’re a country that believes in rebirth and people moving beyond prior mistakes,” Mr. Adams said.

In the three months since his bombshell announcement, the governor has tried to build a legacy — issuing executive orders banning companies that do business with any state agency from making campaign contributions and establishing needle-exchange programs in three New Jersey cities with high rates of HIV infection.

Mr. McGreevey resigned over an affair with a man identified as Golan Cipel — an Israeli hired by the governor in 2002 to be homeland security adviser despite having little experience. Mr. Cipel has steadfastly denied any involvement with the governor.

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