New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey rocked the political world Thursday by announcing that he is gay and will resign in November. ABC News has learned that a male former aide is filing a sexual misconduct lawsuit against the governor in a New Jersey court.
McGreevey, who is married, acknowledged he "engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man." He said he will resign effective Nov. 15.
"My truth is that I am a gay American," he said at a hastily called news conference, his wife at his side.
Even as he made the announcement, a lawsuit was expected to be filed by his former homeland security adviser, Golan Cipel, in Mercer County, N.J., Court, sources told ABC News.
"Shamefully, I engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man, which violates my bonds of matrimony," McGreevey said, without mentioning the lawsuit. "[It was] wrong, foolish and inexcusable. I ask the forgiveness of my wife. She has been extraordinary throughout the ordeal, blessed by virtue of love and strength."
"Let me be clear: I accept total and full responsibility for my actions. However, I am required to do now what is right, to correct the consequences of my actions, and to be truthful to my loved ones, friends, family and myself."
McGreevey, 47, is married to Dina Matos and has two daughters, ages 11 and 2, one with a former wife. He mentioned all of them in his remarks, and explained that he struggled with his identity most of his life.
"Throughout my life, I have grappled with my own identity, who I am," he said. "As a young child, I often felt ambivalent, in fact confused, by virtue of my traditions and community."
"Yet from my early days in school until the present day, I acknowledged some feeling, a certain sense separated from others, because of my resolve, doing the right thing," he said. "I forced what I thought was an acceptable reality onto myself, a reality which is layered and layered with all the quote good things and all the quote right things of typical adolescence and adult behavior."
State Politics in Flux
McGreevey did not outline what will happen in New Jersey's government upon his resignation. Two sources told ABC News that state Senate President Richard Codey will be appointed as acting governor, and Sen. Jon Corzine is the intended 2005 gubernatorial candidate for the Democrats in New Jersey.
Cipel, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, is a poetry-writing former Israeli Defense Force soldier who, despite being a foreign national, was appointed by McGreevey to the homeland security post. Cipel was subsequently forced to resign the $100,000-a-year position.
McGreevey took office 2 ½ years ago, and despite inheriting a $5 billion budget deficit, he steadfastly refused to boost income taxes for most New Jerseyans, instead raising taxes on millionaires, casinos and cigarettes.
But his administration has been dogged by several scandals involving fund-raising.
The announcement makes McGreevey the highest-ranking politician to identify himself as gay. There are no openly gay or lesbian senators, and there are three openly members of Congress: Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., Rep.Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.
In March 1994, Republican Rep. Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin was outed on the House floor by conservative California Rep. Robert Dornan, who accused him of having a "revolving door in his closet." Gunderson, who represented a rural, conservative district, was re-elected that year.
ABC News' Rich Esposito contributed to this report.