< Return to Famous Catholics
< Return to Famous Episcopalians
The Religious Affiliation of
James E. McGreevey
governor of New Jersey
first openly GLBT U.S. governor; resigned after scandal
James E. McGreevey was the governor of New Jersey from 15 January 2002 until he resigned on 15 November 2004.
Jim McGreevey was raised in a conservative Catholic family and was a self-identified practicing Catholic as an adult and through his shortened term as governor. Shortly after resigning the governorship, McGreevey converted to Episcopalianism and announced his intentions to become an Episcopalian priest. Unlike the Catholic Church, which proscribes homosexual activity, the Episcopal Church has relatively few restrictions regarding sexual activity. The Episcopal Church allows people practicing a GLBT lifestyle to be in full communion at all levels of church membership and leadership.
Jim McGreevey resigned when his secret gay affair with Isaeli poet Golan Cipel was discovered. In announcing his secret life to the public and explaining why he was resigning, he famously declared, "I am a gay American." Many New Jersey citizens, even those who were inclined to be accepting of GBLT lifestyles, were angered that the governor had appointed his lover Golan Cipel to a high position in state office. The governor appointed Cipel to be the state's homeland security advisor, a position he was not at all qualified for and which he could not fully execute because he was not a U.S. citizen and was unable to obtain federal security clearance.
From: "Jim McGreevey" page on Wikipedia.org website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_McGreevey; viewed 2 May 2007):
James Edward "Jim" McGreevey (born August 6, 1957) is an American Democratic politician. He served as the 52nd Governor of New Jersey from January 15, 2002, until November 15, 2004, when he left office three months after admitting that he had had an extramarital affair with a male employee. Upon publicly revealing his homosexuality on August 12, 2004, McGreevey became the first and, to date, the only openly gay state governor in United States history.
Jersey City, New Jersey, grew up in nearby Carteret, and attended St. Joseph High School in Metuchen. He attended The Catholic University of America before graduating from Columbia University in 1978...
McGreevey, who is of Irish descent, was raised as a Roman Catholic in a socially conservative household. Due to his pro-choice stance on abortion, he stated as governor that he would not receive Communion at public church services. McGreevey is committed to the separation of church and state, having said that he believes "it's a false choice in America between one's faith and constitutional obligation. McGreevey implemented a stem cell research plan for New Jersey, and heavily lobbied for the state's first domestic partnership law for same-sex couples, which he signed into law in early 2004. He has since converted to the Episcopal faith. Governor McGreevey will enter the seminary this Fall to become an Episcopalian Priest...
McGreevey's term was mired in controversy, from questions about the credentials of several of his appointments to Pay to Play and extortion scandals involving many of his backers and key New Jersey Democratic fundraisers. Moreover, after only eight months in office, his homeland security advisor Golan Cipel resigned from his post amid persistent complaints about his lack of qualifying experience for the position. In the assessments of most observers, Cipel lacked the relevant prior experience that would warrant such an appointment. He also could not gain a security clearance from the federal government, given that he was not a U.S. citizen, but rather an Israeli citizen whom McGreevey met during a trip to Israel in 2000...
In August 2002, Cipel resigned at McGreevey's request and then asked for his job back.
On August 12, 2004, faced with threats from Cipel's lawyer Allen Lowy that Cipel would file a sexual harassment suit against him in Mercer County Court (McGreevey in his book says Lowy told him "...although we think we will get $50 million, we'll take five"), McGreevey announced at a press conference: "My truth is that I am a gay American." He also said that he "engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man" (whom his aides immediately named as Cipel), and that he would resign effective November 15, 2004. Even though McGreevey's sexual orientation had been speculated about in New Jersey political circles and questions about the nature of his relationship with Cipel had been alluded to in the media even before August 2004, McGreevey's announcement made him the first openly gay state governor in American history...
McGreevey has one daughter, Morag, from his first marriage (to Canadian Kari Schutz), which ended in divorce, and another daughter, Jacqueline, from his second marriage (to Dina Matos McGreevey), from whom McGreevey is now separated. McGreevey and Matos are in the process of divorcing. On March 14, 2007, the Associated Press reported that McGreevey was seeking custody of Jacqueline from Dina Matos, and filing for child support.
In his memoir The Confession, McGreevey describes the duality of his personal life before he came out as gay: "As glorious and meaningful as it would have been to have a loving and sound sexual experience with another man, I knew I'd have to undo my happiness step by step as I began chasing my dream of a public career and the kind of 'acceptable' life that went with it. So, instead, I settled for the detached anonymity of bookstores and rest stops -- a compromise, but one that was wholly unfulfilling and morally unsatisfactory."
McGreevey has been dating an Australian-American executive, Mark O'Donnell, since late 2005. The two live in Plainfield, New Jersey.
McGreevey and O'Donnell regularly attend Saint Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, where McGreevey was received into the ECUSA on Sunday, April 29, 2007. He has been accepted to General Theological Seminary where he will pursue a Master of Divinity degree, the degree required to become an Episcopal priest. Although a person with an M.Div. degree may become a priest in the Episcopal Church, they must go through discernment and be sponsored by a diocese.
McGreevey is teaching ethics, law and leadership at Kean University in Union, New Jersey.
From: Associated Press, "Report: McGreevey considering Episcopal priesthood" in New York Daily News, 2 May 2007 (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2007/05/02/2007-05-02_report_mcgreevey_considering_episcopal_p-2.html; viewed 2 May 2007):
NEWARK - James E. McGreevey, the nation's first openly gay governor, has become an Episcopalian and wants to become a priest in that faith, according to a published report.
The former governor, who was raised as a Roman Catholic, was officially received into the Episcopal religion on Sunday at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan, said the Rev. Kevin Bean, vicar at St. Bartholomew.
McGreevey has entered the church's "discernment" phase that usually precedes any seminary work, Bean told The Star-Ledger of Newark in a report posted Wednesday on its Web site.
"This process that he's in right now, is not going to be some snap of the finger, overnight process. That will not happen. That's not how it works. He knows that," Bean said. "And so at the parish level, and at the diocesan level, everyone knows that this is a process that ... intentionally is deliberate. You don't enter into it unadviseably." St. Bartholomew's spokesman Bob Johnson said he could confirm that McGreevey was received into the faith because the former governor's name was listed on a program for the service. The step is for those who have already been baptized and confirmed in another Christian denomination, but wish to become Espiscopals, he said.
However, Johnson declined to speak about whether McGreevey was considering the priesthood, since that involved an individual parishoner.
The Associated Press could not reach McGreevey for comment on Wednesday.
McGreevey, 49, shocked the nation in August 2004 by proclaiming himself "a gay American" who had an extramarital affair with a male aide, and that he would resign that November.
He has applied to the General Theological Seminary in Manhattan and is awaiting word of whether he has been accepted to the program there, the newspaper said, citing two people familiar with McGreevey's plans who declined to be identified because McGreevey has not formally announced his plans.
A phone message from The Associated Press to Bean and the seminary were not immediately returned Wednesday.
Growing up in Middlesex County, McGreevey served as an altar boy and attended Catholic schools. While in office, he continued to practice the religion, but differed from church teachings in several areas, including his support of abortion rights.
Religion has become an issue is his contentious divorce proceedings. His estranged wife, Dina Matos McGreevey, has demanded that their 5-year-old daughter not be allowed to receive communion in the Episcopal Church because she is being raised a Roman Catholic.
In his appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" last year, McGreevey recounted going to the library as a boy to look up the word 'homosexual' in a dictionary. When he read terms like 'perverse' and 'psychiatric disorder' were in the definition, the Irish-Catholic said he realized he didn't want to be that, and he quickly learned to repress the feelings he knew the church and his community would abhor.
In his book published last year, "The Confession," the former governor said he resorted to anonymous homosexual trysts at highway rest stops as he wrestled with desires frowned on by his faith and his family.
The issue of gay clergy has exposed divides in the worldwide Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal Church in the United States. The Rev. V. Gene Robinson became the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop when elected four years ago to lead the church in New Hampshire. Earlier this year, Anglican leaders demanded the U.S. denomination step back from its support of gays or risk losing its full membership in the Anglican fellowship.
Webpage created 2 May 2007. Last modified 2 May 2007.
We are always striving to increase the accuracy and usefulness of our website. We are happy to hear from you. Please submit questions, suggestions, comments, corrections, etc. to: email@example.com.