Rep. Mike Michaud, a six-term Democratic congressman from Maine who's also running for governor, announced Monday that he's gay
, but implored his critics to answer the question, "Why should it matter?"
Michaud, 58, came out in an op-ed that ran Monday
in two of the area's major newspapers, the Portland Press Herald and the Bangor Daily News, in an effort to address his opponents' "whisper campaigns" about his sexuality.
"Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: Yes, I am. But why should it matter?" he wrote. "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 millworker 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."
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The announcement didn't ruffle many feathers in Michaud's home state.
"I am glad that he finally did [come out]," Nikki York, a waitress in Medway, Maine, told the Daily News. "It’s not right that he can’t be who he is. I am glad that he doesn’t have to hold it back any more."
"It really does not matter to me one way or the other. I am not biased," a paper mill worker in East Millinocket said.
"I think I am anti-gay," a 70-year-old paper mill retiree told a Daily News reporter. "I think I am. I think women should be with men and men should be with women, but I am still going to vote for Mike."
Rep. Jared Polis, a Democratic congressman from Colorado who is also gay, offered words of support to Michaud on Twitter.
The announcement makes Michaud the seventh openly gay or bisexual member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., is the only openly gay senator.
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