By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com September 14 2012 4:11 PM ET
Gay Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank opposes the election of gay Republican congressional candidate Richard Tisei from his state, but the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which has endorsed Tisei, is speaking out on the importance of having out LGBT officials from both major parties.
Frank, a Democrat who is retiring this year after decades in the House of Representatives, said Thursday that a Tisei victory would actually be a setback to LGBT rights, as it would help Republicans keep their House majority.
‘‘The fact that Richard Tisei is openly gay is a good thing,’’ Frank said in a conference call with journalists, the Associated Press reports. ‘‘The problem is that it is of no use to us.’’ He said Tisei’s first vote would be to reelect Republican John Boehner as House speaker, and Boehner would not let pro-gay legislation, such as a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, come up before the chamber.
Frank has endorsed Tisei’s opponent, incumbent Democrat John Tierney, in race to represent Massachusetts’s Sixth Congressional District, north of Boston. Republicans believe Tisei has a good chance of beating Tierney.
Victory Fund today issued a statement praising Frank for his service in Congress while taking issue with his comments about Tisei. “As a nonpartisan organization working to bring LGBT voices to the table on both sides of the aisle, we disagree with Congressman Frank’s assessment of Richard Tisei, an openly gay, socially progressive Republican,” said Victory Fund CEO Chuck Wolfe.
“Just as Congressman Frank was able to help persuade Democrats to turn away from an anti-LGBT record over the more than 25 years he served as an openly gay member of the House, we believe Richard Tisei’s personal influence in the Republican caucus has the potential to change the hearts and minds of colleagues,” Wolfe added. “That is how real change begins.”