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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With James McGreevey
Aired September 21, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, the gay ex-governor who lived a desperate double life now going public about the decades of tortured secret lust, the anonymous truck stop trists, and the alleged affair that cost him his office, cheating on his wife with a man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCGREEVEY: I engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, answering some tough questions about his shocking story of sex and shame, power and scandal. He'll answer your calls and e-mails too next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening from New York City.
There are scandals and then there are scandals. Our guest tonight was in the middle of a sensational controversy that had everyone talking two years ago. Shockwaves still being felt.
Before we meet him, and a little later his life partner, a quick history lesson.
KING (voice-over): It was one of the biggest bombshells in recent American political history.
MCGREEVEY: But my truth is that I am a gay American.
KING: Halfway into his first term, New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, Roman Catholic father of two, once a rising Democratic star with his second wife at his side, admitting adultery, stepping down and coming out.
MCGREEVEY: Shamefully, I engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man which violated my bonds of matrimony. I have decided the right course of action is to resign.
KING: McGreevey faced personal and political scandal. He put his alleged gay lover, Israeli citizen Golan Cipel (ph), on the state payroll as a special counsel. Some question Cipel's credentials. Cipel himself denied any affair with McGreevey and denied he was gay. In his new tell-all book, McGreevey describes his first kiss with Cipel as life-changing after years of sleazy back-alley sex. But, Cipel, who McGreevey claims tried to blackmail him, says McGreevey sexually assaulted him.
KING: The book is "The Confession." The guest is James McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey.
By the way, what was your post before governor?
MCGREEVEY: It was mayor and state senator, mayor of Woodbridge, New Jersey my hometown for eleven years.
KING: And you won easily right?
KING: Why did you write this?
MCGREEVEY: To tell the story. For a couple of reasons, Larry. After I came out and it was obviously very painful and scandals as you said and, you know, just sitting here listening to that tale all sorts of emotions come back.
I realized that I had screwed up my life living different parts of my life in different places. I wasn't whole. I wasn't integrated. I wasn't a complete person. And after that, came out, spent some time at a psychiatric hospital.
KING: Right after it you went to a hospital?
MCGREEVEY: No, I actually came out. I thought I could handle it. I thought I could make sense of it. I came out "I'm gay. It's been a dark, ugly secret in my life. It's something that I pushed back my whole life."
But I thought at that point that I could make sense of it. All right, I'm gay and now I'm going to be like healed and I wasn't. And a dear friend of mine, Ray Lesniak (ph), said "You've got to get treated." And so I went to this place called The Meadows in Wickenburg, Arizona and I said, you know, "I'm going to put my life back together in a week."
KING: You were being treated because you were gay?
MCGREEVEY: No, I was treated because of the trauma. I was treated because of, you know, 47 years or maybe not that long, maybe since I was six of knowing that I was gay but not accepting it and, you know, trying to hide it and being fearful and acting out as you said in the introductory piece in dark places. And so, my life was scattered in all these places.
KING: So you wrote this to?
MCGREEVEY: Well, I wrote this to talk about how bad it is, how damning it is to not live a healthy life as one person.
KING: Do you gather a lot of people are living that way?
MCGREEVEY: From the letters I got when I left the governor's office there are people, yes, in their own house, whether it's in their job or their marriage or an addiction, you know, alcoholism and friends that have come to me on a personal level that have struggled.
KING: When did you know you were gay?
MCGREEVEY: I was about -- I knew I was different when I was about six years of age but I just knew that I wasn't like everybody else. I mean I wasn't like the other kids. I didn't know what that was. But I guess it was when I was in seventh or eighth grade, I'm like, "Hey, something's wrong here."
KING: But you got married, had sex, had children.
MCGREEVEY: Yes, yes.
KING: Were you acting all the time? When you had sex with a woman were you performing?
MCGREEVEY: I was real in that moment.
KING: Cared for her?
MCGREEVEY: Oh, sure, love, care because I thought I was trying to do the right thing. With all my might I thought I could will myself into being straight.
KING: But you couldn't keep it up?
MCGREEVEY: No. You know in the beginning it was different stages. It's different. I mean when I was a young kid, you know, I tried to do, you know, what they called reversion therapy back then and that is, you know, real the Playboy magazines or read whatever it is and try to sort of correct yourself into it. And then you try to manage it badly. But you get married because you think that's what your church asks you. That's what your society asks you to do and it doesn't work.
KING: Let's go back to August 12, 2004, just another excerpt from that bombshell resignation speech and I want to ask you about it. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCGREEVEY: I engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man, which violates my bonds of matrimony. It was wrong. It was foolish. It was inexcusable and for this I ask the forgiveness and the grace of my wife. She has been extraordinary throughout this ordeal and I am blessed by virtue of her love and strength.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: How did she find out?
MCGREEVEY: I told her.
MCGREEVEY: I told her I guess it was a week, week and a half before.
KING: When you knew it was going to come out?
MCGREEVEY: When I knew it was over.
KING: How do you say something like that?
MCGREEVEY: Badly, I mean (INAUDIBLE), painfully because I was not only coming out to her, I was coming out to myself. This is the person you're married to.
KING: Why did she agree to be there with you?
MCGREEVEY: Because she's a class lady.
KING: She didn't have to.
MCGREEVEY: No, she didn't have to. She was a class lady because she knew what it meant to be first lady. She was the mother of a great daughter and she thought it was important to stand by her husband and she's a class act.
KING: In a way, Jim, it was harder for her than for you.
MCGREEVEY: Yes. I had reacted to this, you know, (INAUDIBLE) made a decision not based on any courage but based on necessity. She was reacting to my decision.
KING: That had to be the worst moment of your life, right?
MCGREEVEY: No, it wasn't.
KING: It was not?
KING: What was worse?
MCGREEVEY: Actually in the moment there was an aspect of grace. I had finally accepted what I was. I think it was -- and, you know, you're sort of on a temporarily high. I think it was the breakdown afterwards. I mean, you know, you bounce up and you're like shit. This is who I am. I finally accepted it and there's a, you know, feel good. It's afterwards the breakdown.
KING: Up next, the beginning of the end for Jim McGreevey as governor when LARRY KING LIVE returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCGREEVEY: And so my truth is that I am a gay American and I am blessed to live in the greatest nation with a tradition of civil liberties, the greatest tradition of civil liberties in the world and a country which provides so much to its people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's talk about Golan Cipel, a key factor in this. You hired him. He's an Israeli...
KING: ...to be -- he wasn't right for that job was he? Was that a political kind of pay off?
MCGREEVEY: It was a political position. It was the Office of the Counsel of the Governor in the governor's office, so it's a consultant role and it's typically somebody that you would hire.
KING: But then he got to be security right?
MCGREEVEY: He was involved in it but, Larry, he was never, I mean he was never head of security. I mean that in the state of New Jersey is under the attorney general's office in something called the Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force. He was never a member of it but he did work on homeland security in terms of advising me. I mean the point is he should have never been on the payroll. He should have never been there.
KING: I met a gentleman today involved with one of the boards in Jersey who said you would have survived if not for Cipel, just coming out being gay you wouldn't have lost, you wouldn't have had to resign. It was Cipel that caused you to resign. Would you agree?
MCGREEVEY: Yes, it was my bad judgment there but also, you know, being in the closet, all the, you know, the sick making in your head.
KING: You came out with him though right?
MCGREEVEY: Oh, yes. The crazy thing is we never discussed being gay. We never talked about it.
KING: It just happened one night?
MCGREEVEY: It happened but then even when you continue it, it's just like, you know, you're not admitting.
KING: You never said "I'm gay, you're gay" either?
KING: Never used the word?
MCGREEVEY: No, you never use the word. The word is something that's, you know...
KING: But you had relations?
MCGREEVEY: Oh, yes.
KING: Now what do you make of him in Israel the other day when the book came out denying that he's gay that he ever had -- that it was all forced, you forced yourself upon him?
KING: Is this he-said she-says?
MCGREEVEY: There's no advantage to me telling the story except the truth and I stand by every word in that book. It's the truth. And, you know, I wish him his peace but for him ironically this thing has been painful for my wife and my family. But for Golan Cipel, the irony is I never would have come out. I would have been in that closet.
KING: So that's the irony?
KING: Here's a statement, it's a 2004 comment from an attorney representing him. Let's listen and then have you respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL YOSEVITZ, GOLAN CIPEL'S ATTORNEY: Governor McGreevey subjected Golan Cipel to continuous, unwelcome, uninvited, serious physical sexual advances. Golan's forced acquiescence never meant that the governor's advances were ever welcome. In fact, Golan tried to reject the governor's advances and was completely despondent during the harassment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And you write that you loved him. OK.
MCGREEVEY: Love, lust, I thought I did, yes.
KING: Does that pain you to hear that?
MCGREEVEY: She's a hired gun doing what she's paid to do.
KING: Do you ever miss him?
MCGREEVEY: No, no because I realized it wasn't real. I realized that the emotions weren't genuine. I realized perhaps sadly more about proximity to power than actual love.
KING: Feel betrayed?
MCGREEVEY: Yes but I also betrayed him.
KING: Are you taking all the blame?
MCGREEVEY: On this relationship?
KING: No, this whole story are you saying "I'm the wrongful one?"
MCGREEVEY: Oh, yes.
KING: "I did wrong?"
MCGREEVEY: I did wrong. I did wrong. What I did was wrong. I mean I was married. I was governor of the state of New Jersey. How insane was it to like be acting out and having a relationship?
KING: Do you think if you had announced early on in life that you were gay you could have been a governor?
MCGREEVEY: I think I could have been -- I think I could have been elected governor and if I had the courage to say, you know, "God, this is who I am" and, you know, prayed about it, thought about it and came to that conclusion and, if I had been, you know, told my wife and told the people around me in my family and then went to the state of New Jersey and said, "Hey look, this is my reality" but I would have never had the courage to do that.
KING: Why did you put Mr. Cipel on the payroll?
MCGREEVEY: I wanted him close to me.
KING: So it was a selfish reason?
MCGREEVEY: Yes, sure.
KING: And he knew that? I don't want to put words in your mouth. Did he know that?
MCGREEVEY: I would think so. I never discussed it with him.
KING: What did your wife think of him?
MCGREEVEY: Larry, you'd have to ask that.
KING: Did she have any suspicion? After you told her did you discuss Mr. Cipel with her?
MCGREEVEY: No, we didn't, no we didn't. I mean the whole (INAUDIBLE) the house was burning down. I mean, you know, she had to physically move. We had our daughter, you know.
KING: How did your first wife deal with it?
MCGREEVEY: She's great and both my wives I mean their moral character and their strength are amazing.
KING: She called you?
MCGREEVEY: Kari (ph) called me. She didn't want me to resign.
MCGREEVEY: Yes, she said "You're a good human being. If you're gay, you're gay. Just keep going." You know she was calling from Canada. I don't think she knew the full dimensions of how badly I screwed up.
KING: Very attractive woman too.
MCGREEVEY: Thank you.
KING: You have how old a daughter from her?
KING: How is she taking all this?
MCGREEVEY: She's a great kid. She's really grounded. She's really healthy and she's blessed to have a great mother who sort of worked it through. And she also, I mean she lives in, you know, Canada. I think there are some different attitudes.
KING: But you see her?
MCGREEVEY: Oh, yes. In fact, they were down at the house and she's great and I love her deeply and I also apologized for any pain that I've caused the family.
KING: Coming up, Governor McGreevey on living the straight life and how he broke the news telling his wife when LARRY KING LIVE continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCGREEVEY: ...and justly, so help me God. We'll build a better state. We'll build a better New Jersey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Jim McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey and author of the new book "The Confession."
Was your first wife your first sexual relationship too with a woman?
MCGREEVEY: No, no.
KING: You've had others?
MCGREEVEY: Oh, yes, yes when I was a kid growing up and in college.
KING: Were they pleasurable?
MCGREEVEY: Yes. I mean it's...
KING: So one might ask why couldn't you have just lived it?
MCGREEVEY: Well, I tried. I tried, Larry. I gave it, I mean you know that's why when people talk about, you know, homosexuality being, you know, a lifestyle or a choice, I mean to me that's insane because...
KING: You didn't choose it?
MCGREEVEY: No, I didn't choose it. I mean like I not only didn't choose it, I fought it every step of the way and, yes, I mean it's pleasurable in that moment and it's pleasurable because frankly you take all these images from television, from reading about this is supposed to be pleasurable.
But at some level there is like you know in your heart and your soul and your body that that's not -- that's not you. I'm not reacting to a woman the way my buddies did. I'm not reacting to girls. I mean I know that I'm gay.
KING: You mentioned earlier that you told your wife when it was about to break (INAUDIBLE). What do you actually say? How do you say something like that? You sit down, stand, what do you do? How do you do it?
MCGREEVEY: You sit down. We sat down in the governor's office -- excuse me, in the mansion and I just told her.
KING: Did you sleep well the night before?
MCGREEVEY: Oh, no, I wasn't sleeping. I mean, you know, my whole life was (INAUDIBLE).
KING: And you just said "I'm gay?"
MCGREEVEY: No, no. Listen, it wasn't -- it wasn't that simple. I mean you're filled with such -- I was filled with such a sense of guilt and shame and so you're telling this person that you sat across and you know a priest blessed you and you're telling her that you had this relationship and you're telling her that, you know, "I'm not who you think I am."
KING: What was her first reaction?
KING: Big surprise?
MCGREEVEY: One of non-acceptance. I mean like, you know, "How do I make sense of this?"
KING: Were there ever, Jim, rumors about you like years ago when you were mayor?
MCGREEVEY: Oh, yes, yes.
KING: And that stemmed from what?
MCGREEVEY: That stemmed from -- I frankly don't know. I worked my backside off. I mean I went to go-go bars. I went everywhere to be like one of the boys. I mean it just, you know, the irony is, is that when you're in the closet and when I was in the closet I figured that if I could really work it to show that "I'm a guy's guy."
Then instead of embracing sort of the love that my parents have and they just, you know, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and they're healthy and they're loving and they're wonderful, you know, you have to go for the character.
You go for the image. And so what you, you know, you try to go for is, you know, looking at women in all the -- sort of as sexual objects and you hang out with the guys because what you're interested in, Larry, is you want the guys to know that you're just like them.
And so, there were rumors despite all of that. In fact, in the '97 race, though I disagree with her vehemently and politically on so many things, Governor Whitman there were rumors about me and she wouldn't let them use rumors about McGreevey being gay in the campaign.
KING: And now she's in trouble.
MCGREEVEY: Not for that though.
KING: No, over (INAUDIBLE).
KING: Are you going to contact her?
We have an e-mail question from Theresa in Tacoma, Washington. The question is, "Did you ever think you might infect your wife with HIV having had promiscuous sex with multiple men?"
MCGREEVEY: No, I always had protected sex.
KING: So you never feared that you would get AIDS or HIV?
MCGREEVEY: No, no, and one time I got tested (INAUDIBLE) in the book but no I was.
KING: Did you also tell your first wife you were gay? Did you call her?
MCGREEVEY: Yes. KING: Right about the same time you told your wife?
MCGREEVEY: Yes, about the same time.
KING: How did she react?
MCGREEVEY: With grace. She was accepting. And she also -- it was, you know, she wanted -- she was just so sympathetic and so nurturing I mean it's...
KING: You have had a couple of extraordinary women in your life.
KING: Would you admit that? I mean...
MCGREEVEY: And my mom.
KING: You're pretty lucky.
MCGREEVEY: I'm damn lucky.
KING: How did your father take it? Is he a devout Catholic?
MCGREEVEY: Yes. Yes, he's a great guy. He was a Marine Corps drill instructor.
KING: Do you have brothers and sisters?
MCGREEVEY: Do I?
MCGREEVEY: Yes, I have two sisters.
KING: Are they straight?
MCGREEVEY: Yes. And I went to him and he was like -- I don't think he -- he didn't understand it. He's like, "You got two" -- "You have two wives and you've got these two beautiful daughters" like and I'm like, "Dad, this is who I am." And I will tell you, Larry, since that time my relationship with my father has been so much stronger. It's like I've come home to him. It's great.
KING: Were you very worried about him and how he would take it?
MCGREEVEY: Yes because his respect and love mean a lot to me.
KING: And your mom?
MCGREEVEY: She's great. She's great.
KING: She handled it right away?
MCGREEVEY: Yes, she, you know, you know she said to me "Why didn't you say something?" I looked at myself, you know, and I had driven down to see them and, you know, I was in the backseat of their car and the state trooper and we go and I'm like, "Damn, if I knew it was this easy, I would have done it 30 years ago." You know but it isn't that easy for every gay kid.
KING: No, that's always the surprise though when they take it well and you're wondering what was I doing all these years scared what they might do?
MCGREEVEY: Yes. Yes. And not only scared, Larry, and not only fear but also the sense of shame and a sense of self loathing which is...
KING: Shame is a big part of this.
We'll be taking your calls. And, later we're going to meet Jim's love partner now.
There's more ahead, life in the closet, and former Governor McGreevey's first same sex experiences, your phone calls as well coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCGREEVEY: And I am sorry that I have disappointed the citizens of the state of New Jersey who gave me this enormous trust. To be clear, I am not apologizing for being a gay American but rather for having let personal feelings impact my decision making and for not having had the courage to be open about who I was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Jim McGreevey. The book is "The Confession," now available everywhere, the former governor of New Jersey.
Shame is a big part of this for you isn't it?
MCGREEVEY: Yes, Larry.
KING: You had to deal with that.
MCGREEVEY: And understanding the difference between, you know, what the (INAUDIBLE) at this place the Meadows calls, sort of, if you will good shame and bad shame. I mean it's, when I did something wrong, when I would engage in these trysts and all this unhealthy thing, I should be ashamed of that, because that's unhealthy, that's wrong. It is not about, you know, loving, monogamous, godly, with a small G, relationship. But that's different than, you know, the shame that an 11-year-old kid has for being gay because I thought that being gay was an abomination and I read what the church wrote about mortal sin and damnation and then --
KING: You battled shame all your life then? Good shame, bad shame. MCGREEVEY: What happened, what I was doing, though, was I accepted the shame. I accepted that being gay is some sort of distorted perversion, some sort of evil. And so my thought was I'm not going to own this thing. I'm going to keep this thing at a thousand yards. And I then started, because I couldn't have an open loving relationship, where I couldn't date boys the way my buddies were dating girls, and so you start, I started acting out. I still, even in my language, I start, you start, I mean I don't want to own it. I started acting out in unhealthy ways.
KING: What was your first, you had a lot of sexual experiences with girls, right, in High school?
KING: You were a sexual guy, right?
MCGREEVEY: Well --
KING: You had many experiences.
KING: What was the first male experience like? How old were you?
MCGREEVEY: It must have been like seventh, eighth grade. I describe it in the book.
KING: Had a male sexual experience in eighth grade.
MCGREEVEY: Yes it was, you know, it was petting. And so walking home from school, from grammar school, and this guy says to me, you know, my brother has a bunch of playboy magazines, and that made it all right because we were looking at, you know, girlie pictures. Do you want to come over to the house. So the context is it's safe because we're not admitting to being gay because we're looking at --
MCGREEVEY: Macho. And so then we looked at, you know, these girlie magazines and we got excited and it was just, you know, stupid childhood stuff.
KING: Later on --
MCGREEVEY: But then I went home because I was so guilty. I was so ashamed. And I remember I turned on the water faucet in the shower and to hot, to scalding and I said to myself, I'm going to bathe myself of this sickness. And I'm never going to do it again. And it was like, I was committing to myself, to god, you know, to my faith that I was never going to do this.
KING: Why all the weird trysts with men. Why in the back of barns and crazy places and bookstores? Why?
MCGREEVEY: Because, you know --.
KING: Just lust?
MCGREEVEY: You didn't want it. You didn't want that. What I wanted is, like, you know, what I wanted as you're talking about your wife and your kids and open, loving relationship that is balanced, that is boring and you enjoy all the benefits of life and love and happiness. That's what you want. But I thought that's the only thing I could have. I thought that was the only thing open to me.
KING: You pick up some men at a truck stop or they pick you up?
KING: And you didn't even know their name maybe?
MCGREEVEY: No. You don't know anything about them.
KING: Let's take a call. For Governor McGreevey. Freemont, California, hello.
CALLER: Hi. My question to former Governor McGreevey is, if he knew he was gay since he was 6, why then did he get married and have kids?
MCGREEVEY: Because the crazy thing is I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I was doing by, you know, trying to be straight, working to be straight. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.
KING: Society rules?
MCGREEVEY: Yes. And ultimately, you know, I can't blame society. I mean, I made the decision. There were men and women that are gay that made a very different decision in my age group. I just hope that, you know, one of the things that comes out of the book is that this is the last American generation that has to decide between a professional career or being accepted and, you know, following their heart.
KING: Do you think if, forget the gay, do you think if you had had a relationship outside of marriage with a woman who worked for you, you would not be governor now? Supposing it were a woman, not a man?
MCGREEVEY: Well, it was also the position that Golan was in, Larry. I don't think it is --
KING: You might still have lost it?
MCGREEVEY: Yes. I think homosexuality though is still tough for people.
KING: That's what I mean.
MCGREEVEY: It is still tough for people. KING: So if it were a girl, not a guy, it is a different story.
MCGREEVEY: The whole gay thing is tough for, I mean, that's the whole thing about secrets. I mean, AA has got this great expression, buddy of mine (INAUDIBLE) you're only as sick as your secrets. And so, you know, people hold this back and play this secret and --
KING: Walking down the aisle first marriage. You feel I shouldn't be doing this?
MCGREEVEY: No. No. I wanted to do this. I wanted to get married. This is a beautiful woman, a great ceremony, a loving family. I got this thing beat.
KING: We'll take more calls. Have some more e-mails. And just ahead, we'll meet Jim McGreevey's life partner. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCGREEVEY: I am very proud of the things we have accomplished during my administration and I want to thank humbly the citizens of the state of New Jersey for the privilege to govern. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Jim McGreevey, former governor of New Jersey. All these truck stops and those trysts and things, were some of those or all of them while governor?
MCGREEVEY: No, no.
KING: None of them.
MCGREEVEY: You have state troopers.
KING: No one knew you and state troopers are with you, so you can't pull it off.
KING: Did you ever do anything wild while governor other than Golan?
MCGREEVEY: Larry, that was more than enough.
KING: So Golan was the only ...
KING: ... sexual experience with a man while governor?
KING: We have an e-mail from Trish in Colonial, New Jersey. I know you have apologized to the people of New Jersey and I personally forgive you. But I was curious as to whether there have been any state criminal inquiries about putting Golan Cipel in a Homeland Security position that he wasn't qualified for?
MCGREEVEY: No. Golan Cipel, I mean, his title was counselor to the office of governor. And so rephrase the answer. Stupid, it was an incredible error of judgment, but it wasn't criminal.
KING: We have another call from Glendale, California, hello.
CALLER: Hi Larry. Governor McGreevey, I appreciate your courage. My question is, now that you're out of the closet, do you now identify with the gay community for support and friendship?
KING: Good question.
MCGREEVEY: Thanks. You're very kind. And it wasn't so much courage. I mean, it was more born out of necessity but thank you for it. Yes, I do. It is like, you know, you come home to your tribe. And if I can just talk about the importance of this. You know when you're a young kid and you're gay, and there is nobody there to tell you your story. If your Irish-American, my parents told me the story about the Irish.
Our family happened to be from the north of Ireland and those stories. Or if you're Italian-American or African-American or Russian-American, Jewish-American, you have certain stories. When you're a young kid and your gay, you're out there on your own. And you're trying to figure this thing out. And your parents typically aren't gay. And you go to these books. I mean, I went to these books, I keep saying you go to these books. I still have trouble owning it. And I went to these books and you read all these things about being gay back then.
So now hopefully there are programs and there are advocacy organizations and my buddy Kevin Jennings has this great program called The Glisten, where he deals with high school kids and teaches them about being gay and giving them a sense of identity. So, the answer is yes. I'm going to be one of the troops. I'm not going to be a leader. I'm going to be one of the troops and work on it.
KING: So many nights of your life had to be sad.
KING: You went to sleep sad most nights?
KING: Because you are living something that ain't.
KING: You had to turn over on the pillow and --
MCGREEVEY: Yes. KING: Wonder what it is all about.
MCGREEVEY: Or you came home late at night, Larry, and worked. I mean I got a great work ethic from my mom and dad and put in 12, 14 hours but you'd come home at night and you'd hope that the wife was asleep and you would just slip in and --
KING: Not have to perform.
KING: You now have a life partner. We'll get that story. Let's bring him in. Mark O'Donnell, front and center. Come on in.
MCGREEVEY: Hi, sweetheart.
KING: I have never had that happen on this show. No, Brando kissed me. How did you meet, Mark?
MARK O'DONNELL, JAMES MCGREEVEY'S LIFE PARTNER: We met at a friend's cocktail party. It was a Saturday night. I went, I was late and he was in the room. And it was a crowded room and I saw him, kind of, and I thought, he's cute. I thought he's probably with someone. Then we started talking later on in the night.
KING: Was this in New Jersey?
O'DONNELL: No, it was in New York.
KING: Were you a former Australian or do you live in Australia?
O'DONNELL: I'm still Australian. And I'm also, I count the U.S. as home as well.
KING: Do you live together now?
O'DONNELL: Yes, we do.
MCGREEVEY: In New Jersey.
KING: In New Jersey. What do you do for a living?
O'DONNELL: I work for an investment company.
KING: What attracted you about Mark?
MCGREEVEY: Well, it was really one of the first times dating. I can't even say dating because I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to do it.
KING: Had you been with a man before Mark and since Golan?
KING: OK. So you're out of office now and you're at this party.
MCGREEVEY: Yes. I'm at this party. I don't know what I'm doing.
KING: Was it a gay party or just a party?
MCGREEVEY: Yes. But everybody is in business suits and whatever. And I'm just, I don't, you know, it is, remember, I haven't been in this role, open and, you know, people are openly gay. I'm like, you know, sitting next to the piano having a glass of orange juice. And finally this guy, we start talking about Roman biographies.
KING: The two of you?
MCGREEVEY: Yes. I mean like how many people talk about history and biographies.
KING: When did you go out?
MCGREEVEY: A little bit there after we went out for dinner.
KING: You liked him right away?
MCGREEVEY: Yes. Yes.
KING: You liked him right away?
O'DONNELL: Straightaway. Straightaway, yes.
MCGREEVEY: Can use a different expression. And then, you know, I was going to this great monastery, Holy Cross monastery. It's a Benedictan monastery up in West Park, New York. It was a place where I spent some time thinking. And I asked mark, I said, you know, would you go? And he said yes. I'm like yes.
KING: Did you know he was a former governor?
O'DONNELL: When we started talking no.
KING: So, initially, when you saw him, you didn't know?
KING: Did you lead the same kind of life of hiding this all your life?
O'DONNELL: No. No, I've been out for probably 20 years.
MCGREEVEY: He's healthy.
O'DONNELL: I think it gets easier, you know, as time goes on. I think it is still difficult. I think there are still kids who are getting beaten up at school and everything.
KING: I want to talk to you when we come back about life partners and what that means. We'll be right back with James McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey and his, what do you call it, boyfriend?
MCGREEVEY: No. No, I got corrected on that.
KING: What is he? What is he?
O'DONNELL: Life partner.
KING: And his life partner Mark O'Donnell. Let's check in with Anderson Cooper, the host of "AC 360" coming up at the top of the hour. Anderson, what's up?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez did it again, spending the day in New York and insulting President Bush. His comments, the past two days, are not unusual for him. He's been stirring the pot that is U.S. foreign policy for years now. Tonight we're going to look closely at his words, the reaction here in the U.S. and why he gets so much support in his own country.
Also we'll have the latest on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has been making some pretty remarkable comments of his own today, Larry.
KING: Thanks, Anderson. That's Anderson Cooper, "AC 360" at the top of the hour. We'll be right back.
KING: Before we get back to the civil union, the "Philadelphia Inquirer" has slammed you, not about this. They just say, editorial in the "Philadelphia Inquirer," you were a lousy governor regardless of sexual identity. You endured behind the scenes of a greedy (INAUDIBLE) administration that sank to new lows of ethical behavior. Before it eve became clear that you had installed a male lover on the payroll, who now claims he was sexually harassed. And he says the publicity blitz over the sexual awakening of the former Democratic governor glosses over the fact that mattered to most New Jerseyians, he was a lousy governor.
MCGREEVEY: I disagree.
KING: I thought you would.
MCGREEVEY: I think we did a lot of good things, I mean, on stem cell research, on domestic partnership, you know, fixing up easy pass, department of motor vehicles, children's literacy. I mean there were scandals, particularly among fund raisers and, you know, that's a whole different for a different day, but I think we did a lot of, I mean, I worked my ass off to do good things.
KING: Would you have been reelected, this aside.
MCGREEVEY: I think so, but, I mean, that's ultimately the decision of the citizens.
KING: Do you want to be married to Jim, Mark?
O'DONNELL: Yes. I mean, why shouldn't we have the same emotional and financial rights as everyone else in this country.
KING: You voted against it?
MCGREEVEY: I didn't vote against it. It was never a vote. I was publicly opposed to it.
KING: But you were against it?
MCGREEVEY: I was publicly opposed to it.
KING: Was that a hypocritical act.
MCGREEVEY: It was a hypocrisy of the first order.
KING: But you favored it?
MCGREEVEY: Oh yes, yes, of course I did. I just didn't want to be, I mean, if like all of a sudden I'm for gay marriage, people might think I'm gay.
KING: Think we'll ever see it?
MCGREEVEY: It is going to be a long haul. I think it gets tougher when people, unfortunately on the other side of the aisle, whether it is god, gays or guns, pass these state ballot initiatives. I think America is going to be out in front of the politicians by a long way.
KING: Is Australia, are they progressive in this area?
O'DONNELL: They are. They're not there yet but they're --
KING: No gay marriage in Australia.
O'DONNELL: No. No.
MCGREEVEY: But further than the states are.
KING: In what way?
O'DONNELL: You can bring a domestic partner back to Australia with you who is not an Australian citizen. If I didn't have a green card, I couldn't live here.
KING: You met his parents?
KING: You went to Australia?
KING: How did they, having long known their son was homosexual, how did they treat this union?
MCGREEVEY: It was like nothing, like, I mean, they treated me with love and they treated me openly. It was almost strange. It's almost I expected, you know, and this was more about me. It's almost like I expected rejection and when there wasn't any, I'm like, you know --
KING: Do you know Jim's ex-wife?
O'DONNELL: I've met Kari (ph), but I haven't met Dina yet.
KING: How has she treated you?
O'DONNELL: She's great. Kari and Morag (ph) and Agnes, his ex- mother-in-law, spent a week with us.
KING: But you are the other man. A little joke.
We have an e-mail question from Chuck in Philadelphia for former governor McGreevey. Now that you seem to have found your happily ever after, do you think your wife will be able to find hers?
MCGREEVEY: I hope so. I want it. I don't think that, you know, I can be given forgiveness. I ask that she understand it and that it is not about her. It is about me.
KING: This may seem stupid, but since you have had it both ways, you've been married, and now you have a partner.
KING: What's the difference? I mean, you still argue over little things?
MCGREEVEY: Oh, yes.
KING: Did you pick up the groceries today?
MCGREEVEY: Yes. And it is just, it is actually, for me, a lot less complicated. It is a lot more honest. I'm not double thinking. I'm not, I am who I am and that's it.
KING: Emotional responses, still the same? Get mad, jealous.
O'DONNELL: Yes. We have our differences and we try and work them out, we talk about them. We try and listen to each other. But we're like any other normal couple. Great times and misunderstandings and --
KING: We'll be back with some more moments with Jim McGreevey and Mark O'Donnell on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCGREEVEY: With these thoughts, I begin my own journey as an American who just happens to be gay and proud. I don't look back with bitterness, anger, or sorrow. I look forward to seeking knowledge, a journey of self-discovery and finding ways to contribute my gifts to those to whom they could be helpful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We discussed shame, you brought shame to a lot of people, family and life and you regret all that. What are you doing with your life now?
MCGREEVEY: Doing a couple of things. Doing some work with education, also some work with poverty. Went down to Appalachia with my friend David Mixner and just wrote about how these incredible women were overcoming such outrageously bad circumstances in their own lives. It was so wonderful watching what these women did, overcoming domestic violence, surviving. It was like, in a strange way, it was a lesson for me personally.
KING: Are you still a Catholic?
MCGREEVEY: I'm a practicing Episcopalian.
KING: You switched.
MCGREEVEY: I haven't switched formally.
KING: You go it a Episcopal church?
MCGREEVEY: Yes. St. Bartholomew's.
KING: Are you Episcopal too?
MCGREEVEY: I love my church. I love the traditions. It is what I grew up in. It's what I was, baptized and confirmed. I just can't sit in a pew and listen to someone tell me that, you know, I ought to despise who I am. It is not healthy for me.
KING: That must feel terrible since you believe in the faith, right? It is conflicting.
MCGREEVEY: Yes. It is, for me it is unhealthy.
KING: Did you ever confess to a priest that you were gay?
MCGREEVEY: No. I was afraid to.
KING: We have an e-mail question from Sherry in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois. Why not stay politically active to fight for the rights and future laws regarding homosexuals.
MCGREEVEY: I'll be active. I mean my friend Steve Goldis (ph), who is the president of New Jersey Equality. I told him in terms of marriage and whatever I can do to help, I want to be one of the ground troops.
KING: One more quick e-mail I want to get in before we close it out.
KING: What's your biggest regret. It's from P.J. of Stirling, Virginia. Biggest regret, not being honest your friends and family, not being honest with the voters, or not being honest with yourself?
MCGREEVEY: I think not being honest with myself because all the harm flowed from that. If I had had the courage to be honest with myself, Larry.
KING: Did you know about his story, Mark? Before you met him? Did you read about it, know about it?
O'DONNELL: Yes. I mean, I saw it when it was on the news two years ago. I thought this is, like, a whole new life for you. And then I kind of forgot about it. And then halfway through our conversation, it was like, oh --
KING: You're the guy.
O'DONNELL: You're the one, exactly.
KING: So when you watched it, you had no thought of ever meet him.
O'DONNELL: No. None whatsoever. No.
KING: Good luck, Jim.
KING: Keep us posted.
MCGREEVEY: God bless.
KING: Mark, good luck.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
KING: Jim McGreevey and Mark O'Donnell. The book is "The Confession." The author Jim McGreevey.
Tomorrow night, Oprah Winfrey's life partner Stedman Graham, a successful business man, a best selling author and Oprah's man for 20 years. He'll be here tomorrow to take some of your phone calls. That's tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern. Right now let's turn it over, down the hall, around the corner, to Anderson Cooper, the host of "AC 36," Anderson.
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