Skip to main content

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
  • 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.

Texas GOP supports 'reparative therapy'
Openly gay son of GOP lawmaker speaks out
GOP shift on same-sex marriage

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.

Part of complete coverage on
Same-sex marriage debate
updated 1:25 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
Never has the Supreme Court said so much when saying so little.
updated 1:07 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
The Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage brought the issue back into the political mix less than a month before the midterm elections.
Find out which states match your values when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
updated 6:02 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Here's a look at what you need to know about same-sex marriage in the U.S. and worldwide.
Which states allow same-sex marriage, and which states don't?
updated 10:22 PM EDT, Mon October 6, 2014
Here's a look at same-sex marriage in the United States, by the numbers.
updated 7:48 PM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
In the same-sex marriage debate, Elton John believes he knows where Jesus would've stood.
updated 7:59 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA.
updated 8:26 AM EDT, Sat June 28, 2014
Anthony Sullivan was a young Australian with Robert Redford looks. Richard Adams emigrated from the Philippines as a child and became an American citizen.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The ruling creates greater momentum for the Supreme Court to decide whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to wed.
updated 3:31 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to allow pastors to marry same-sex couples in states where it is legal.