Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) announced in an op-ed in a Maine newspaper on Monday that he is gay.
Michaud, who is running for governor in 2014, said he decided to come out publicly after his opponents launched a "whisper campaign" about his sexuality.
“They want people to question whether I am gay,” Michaud writes in the Bangor Daily News. “Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: ‘Yes, I am. But why should it matter?’ ”
Michaud becomes the seventh openly gay member of the House of Representatives and the eighth in either chamber of Congress. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) became the first openly gay senator when she won a seat in the 2012 election.
Michaud would be the first openly gay person to win a governor’s race. Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey (D) became the first openly gay governor in 2004, but he didn't come out until he was in office.
Michaud writes in the op-ed that he doesn't consider his sexual orientation to be a big deal, but adds that he decided to make it public in order to show that he’s not ashamed.
“And 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,” he writes.
Michaud faces Gov. Paul LePage (R) and independent candidate Eliot Cutler in the governor's race. LePage is considered among the most vulnerable governors in the country.