By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Ten years ago today, New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey resigned amid scandal, confessing to the world that he was gay.
Still, McGreevey’s announcement opened the closet door for many in the LGBT community.
When he revealed that political ambition kept him in the closet, it made national headlines.
“And so, my truth is that I am a gay American…” McGreevey told a packed press conference, with his wife at his side.
Now, ten years later, observers note, politics has changed.
“The expectation was, at the time, that he would resign because of his sexual orientation. Ten years later that sounds very ludicrous,” says Malcolm Lazin executive director of Equality Forum.
Lazin says McGreevey’s confession emboldened many politicians, and today hundreds, in high-profile positions, serve openly gay: “Serving literally in every capacity, from United States senator, congressman, through local and state office holders.”
Andrea Bowen, executive director of Garden State Equality, says McGreevey’s announcement when she was 18 changed her life.
“After he came out, I resolved to be more out,” she recalled.
Today she is proudly transgender and helps lead the fight for LGBT equality in New Jersey.