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Former GOP spokesman comes out, pushes for same-sex marriage

By Leigh Ann Caldwell, CNN
updated 7:32 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
James Richardson
James Richardson
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • James Richardson is a Republican and wants you to know that he wants to get married to a man
  • He wrote a column publicly announcing his sexuality
  • He will advocate for marriage equality within the Republican Party

(CNN) -- He is gay. He's a Republican. He wants to get married.

During his time as a spokesperson for the Republican Party and GOP candidates, James Richardson noted that "never once did I write that I am gay."

That changed with the publication of a column by Richardson in Thursday's Washington Post that openly proclaims his sexuality.

Despite being a member and former spokesman for a party that doesn't support what he so badly desires -- to marry his same sex partner -- Richardson is committed to the GOP and committed to changing the party's views on the issue.

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While all six openly gay members of the U.S. House and one member of the Senate are Democrats, that could change in November as at least three gay Republicans are currently running.

"I'm advocating for change openly as a gay Republican," he said in an interview with CNN about why he decided to announce his sexuality. "It brings some personal heft when you are convincing people that what they are doing is going to hurt you."

He wants to work "from within" to change minds and the law about same sex marriage, he said.

"My partner and I are envious subscribers to the conventional, conservative family model. Yet together, as two men wishing to grow grey and ornery in matching rocking chairs, we are consigned to 'cohabitation' as a consequence of law. That's unjust, and it's uniquely painful," he wrote in the Post.

Richardson once worked for the more moderate Republican Jon Huntsman, who has embraced same-sex marriage. But he also worked for candidates adamantly against same sex marriage, including former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's short-lived presidential exploratory campaign. Barbour has said he firmly believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.

"I strongly disagree" with Barbour, Richardson said, adding that he respects Barbour's position. "It's a matter of overlooking something for the broader picture."

Ken Mehlman, former adviser to President George W. Bush and former chair of the Republican National Committee, announced that he is gay in 2010 after he stepped out of the political spotlight and into the private sector.

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