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New York City (AFP) – A politician running for governor in the northeastern state of Maine came out as gay Monday, seeking to silence rumors and ask why it should matter.

Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud, 58, would be the first openly gay politician to be elected governor in the United States if he wins the 2014 vote.

He is running against Maine’s Republican Governor Paul LePage, who is seeking a second term.

In an opinion piece published in the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald, Michaud tackled head on “the whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls” about his personal life.

“They want people to question whether I am gay. Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: ‘Yes, I am. But why should it matter?'”

He said his sexuality had nothing to do with his ability to lead the state of Maine and said he hoped that his disclosure could advance gay rights.

“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.”

Governor of New Jersey Jim McGreevey resigned in 2004 after admitting to an adulterous relationship with another man. He has since divorced wife Dina Matos.

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In December 1972, I was part of a nationwide campaign that came tantalizingly close to getting the U.S. Senate to reject Earl Butz, Richard Nixon's choice for secretary of agriculture.

A coalition of grassroots farmers, consumers, and scrappy public interest organizations (like the Agribusiness Accountability Project that Susan DeMarco and I then headed) teamed up with some gutsy, unabashedly progressive senators to undertake the almost impossible challenge of defeating the cabinet nominee of a president who'd just been re-elected in a landslide.

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