Gary Johnson has abandoned his bid to become the presidential nominee of the Republican Party and has joined the Libertarian Party.

The former two-term New Mexico governor announced on Wednesday that he would seek the Libertarian nomination for president.

Johnson described the decision as both difficult and easy in a statement and pledged to bring a “libertarian voice” to the 2012 race.

In previous remarks, Johnson, whose low polling numbers have locked him out of all but 2 Republican debates, said the anti-gay rhetoric of some candidates in the Republican Party played a part in his decision to reconsider his membership.

“I've been in the Republican Party my entire life,” Johnson told gay glossy The Advocate. “And I don't feel like I'm leaving the Republican Party as much as the party is leaving me.”

“I don't think I'm different than a lot of Americans, in that when you grow up, there's a negative prejudice built against gays. You're just bombarded by it,” Johnson said. “And then, in my life, I've come to find out that I have friends who are gay. And it makes me feel horrible that I would in any way potentially add to discrimination against them. Every single candidate talks about equality, freedom, liberty: Doesn't that all start with a person's right to conduct their own lives as they see fit?”

Recently, Johnson endorsed gay marriage during an online town hall with Jimmy LaSalvia, a co-founder and executive director of gay GOP group GOProud. Johnson previously supported civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

During a news conference to announce his decision at the Capitol building in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Johnson said: “I am excited. I am liberated.”