McGreevey takes stand

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">Judge Karen Cassidy listens as former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey testifies at his divorce trial at the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth, N.J.on Wednesday, May 14,2008. He began testimony saying he proposed writing a book with his estranged wife, but she turned him down and later wrote her own memoir.&#40;AP Photo&#47;John O&#39;Boyle, pool&#41;</span></div>
May 14, 2008 9:28:04 AM PDT
The nation's first openly gay governor took the stand Wednesday as the first witness in his high-profile divorce case.

Former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, 50, was quizzed extensively about his jobs and salaries.

Before he took the stand, his lawyer, Stephen Haller, told the judge the ex-governor should not have to pay alimony to his wife of four years because the couple's "short-term marriage" does not qualify for her for it.

Haller also said Dina Matos McGreevey's earnings exceeded her husband's during about half of their marriage.

John Post, who represents Dina Matos McGreevey, said it was "absurd" that the two partners had equal earnings.

She wants the alimony amount awarded to consider his "marital conduct," including his alleged relationship with a male staffer.

McGreevey resigned from office in 2004 after saying he had an affair with a male staffer. The staffer denies the affair and says he was sexually harassed by the governor.

McGreevey is expected to be on the stand all day.

He recounted his education and early career, as Haller tried to establish his client's limited income. As mayor of Woodbridge, for example, McGreevey made $52,000 a year. However, his wife's lawyer noted that McGreevey earned $429,000 in 2006 and $185,000 last year.

Matos McGreevey's lawyer did not rule out the possibility that the two sides could still could strike a deal, even after the trial began.

Talks broke off Monday without progress. The trial was postponed Tuesday because of illness.

The judge was meeting with the McGreeveys and their lawyers Wednesday morning in hopes that the two sides would find some common ground on financial matters.

Haller said the ex-governor would be first on the witness stand when the judge begins taking testimony, perhaps before lunch. He is expected to testify that his income is limited because he is an Episcopal seminary student. The former governor lives in a house owned by his boyfriend.

Alimony, child support, and how the couple should divide their assets and liabilities are unresolved.

She has a pending fraud claim. She is seeking additional money based on a contention that she was duped into marriage by a gay man who needed the cover of a wife to advance his political career