Today (September 4), senior GOP Spokesman James Richardson came out as gay. Richardson shared his own story in an essay entitled "I’m a senior GOP spokesman, and I’m gay. Let me get married" which appeared in the Washington Post.
Coming out can be a difficult transition for anyone, but in Richardson's case it has even more weight: he's a senior spokesman for the Republican party. Richardson, who is currently the Vice President of Public Affairs at Hynes Communications has worked in the past as a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, an adviser for prominent Republican figures like Govs. Haley Barbour and Jon Huntsman, and has even helped elect those who continue to argue against gay marriage.
Richardson has been open about his support of gay rights before but had never openly admitted that he was gay. As a member of the Republican political faction, admitting this fact will likely turn some of his colleagues and supporters against him, something that the Georgia native reflected on this fact in the essay:
"For my admission here, I will alienate friends whose faiths regard my sexuality as culturally corrosive. I’ll suffer the snickering of those across the aisle whose politics regard my own as personally injurious. And conservative clients may regard me as a liability."
Yet, he is determined to let his voice be heard in order to come against Georgia's explicit same-sex marriage ban. He goes on to argue that most people who now vote in favor of gay marriage were once against it, and of those who have been won over, most of them cite a friend or close relative coming as the swaying factor.
"Nearly one-third of these belated boosters say they were won over through personal encounters with gay family members or friends, so the potential reward of convincing even one dubious neighbor is greater than the assumed risk of a diminished social orbit. And it’s okay if I alienate a Facebook friend or two."
James argues further for the economic benefits that marriage has on communities, and cites several of Georgia's own lagging economic statistics. He lays out the Conservative lifestyle that he and his partner ascribe too, while deftly illustrating that regardless, the benefits of marriage should be bestowed upon all citizens.
And he closes with a deeply touching, emotional plea:
"On the foundational question of marriage’s value, to individuals and society, gay couples and the institution’s cultural conservative gatekeepers agree: marriage is deeply special. We wish to participate in earnest, to strengthen the institution that our straight peers are abandoning. Gay couples don’t want to rock the marriage boat — they only want a ticket for two to ride."
Read his full, incredible essay over at the Washington Post.