BOSTON, Mass. — Retiring U.S. Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) says will not support the election of another openly gay man running for his seat because the congressional hopeful, Richard Tisei, is a Republican.
“The fact that Richard Tisei is openly gay is a good thing. The problem is that it is of no use to us,” said Frank, in a telephone conference call with reporters on Thursday.
Frank said that if Tisei were elected, his first vote would be to keep fellow Republican John Boehner as House Speaker — Boehner has opposed efforts to repeal the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act that denies tax, health and other benefits to married gay couples.
The fact that Tisei supports efforts to repeal the law is beside the point, Frank said.
“If he is helping them keep the majority that is irrelevant because the bill will not come up,” he said.
Frank, who is backing fellow Democrat and incumbent Representative John Tierney in the state’s closely watched 6th Congressional District race.
Tisei told the Boston Globe earlier this week that the fact that he’s Republican is a good reason to back him.
Tisei said that most political analysts think that the GOP will retain control of the U.S. House, and that he’d be in a better position to advocate for the state with House leaders, and that if Tierney was elected, he would be in the minority party.
He also said his election would be another step forward for the country.
“As a gay person we will never have true equality until we have people on both sides of the aisle who are willing to stand up for the concept that everybody should be treated fairly under the law,” said Tisei.
The Victory Fund issued a statement Friday 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,” said Wolfe. “That is how real change begins.”