Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Victory Fund Jumps The Shark


Does the Victory Fund have Stockholm Syndrome now?

I know I haven't written much about the Victory Fund-- a kind of less effective gay version of EMILY's List-- but I've been hearing a lot about them from progressive candidates from the LGBT community. The Victory Fund, they all tell me, are a bunch of Inside-the-Beltway hacks who make grassroots candidates jump through hoops and then never help anyway. I don't know much about them but I never hear anything good from people I respect. I've just kind of kept my distance and warned progressive coalition builders that it would be completely inappropriate to include them. And yesterday I saw a news report featuring them crowing about how they've endorsed a gay Republican in Massachusetts, Richard Tisei, who may be able to defeat a Democratic incumbent. I'm good with defeating Democratic incumbents and, Lord knows, there are plenty of really bad ones. In fact on gay issues, there are plenty who are worse than some Republicans. Among the Democrats in the House with ZERO scores from ProgressivePunch on crucial LGBT issues are Mark Critz (PA), Larry Kissell (NC), Mike McIntyre (NC), Mike Ross (AR), and Heath Shuler (NC). But they aren't the Democratic incumbents the Victory Fund is trying to defeat with a gay Republican. No, their target is John Tierney. Tierney has a ProgressivePunch score on gay issues as well. It's 100%, a perfect score-- perfect this year, perfect last year, perfect for his entire career. He's never voted against the LGBT community, not once; never ever. Not even before the Victory Fund existed. When I saw the story about Victory Fund pushing members of the LGBT community to donate to Tisei, I called Rep. Tierney to ask him if he had done something anti-gay that I wasn't aware of. He hadn't.
“I have continually supported marriage equality and resisted Republican efforts to undermine the rights of gay couples. I oppose any form of discrimination, and believe all Americans deserve equal rights. Unfortunately, my Republican opponent would enable Speaker John Boehner to implement the rigid, right-wing ideology that adamantly opposes marriage equality. With a Democratic majority in Congress we can continue to work on critical pieces of legislation such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. My opponent cannot say the same if a GOP majority is in Congress. I am proud to have the support of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights organization in the country."

They really are the EMILY's List of gay politics-- maybe worse. EMILY's List endorses conservative women against progressive men even if the progressive men are stronger on Choice issues than the conservative women. But at least they don't endorse Republicans, just conservative Democrats. Victory Fund is so eager to use a discredited 1980's Beltway model for fundraising that they are bending over backwards to find Republicans to back to "prove" how "bipartisan" they are.

And guess what, the gay-friendly Tierney has a far better record on supporting the LGBT community than the gay Tisei. What is Victory Fund thinking? Oh, yeah... raising money. Tisei's had a checkered history when it comes to supporting equality in his home state, one that Victory Fund should have caught and one that should disturb the donors they've been misleading. He voted against adding sexual orientation to discrimination laws to make it illegal to discriminate in employment and housing. During Tisei’s 1990 campaign, he attacked his Democratic opponent for being in favor of allowing gay people to adopt children and voted for a bill prohibiting the Department of Social Services from placing children with gay foster parents. He also voted against including gays in the State Civil Rights Statutes. That's the kind of garbage the Victory Fund wants unsuspecting donors to finance-- and to destroy the career of an unswerving ally of the LGBT community? Does this make any sense to anyone? Certainly not to Barney Frank (D-MA). He explained what's wrong with that strategy:
"[T]he Republican Party has become increasingly hostile to openly gay candidates in their party. But I noted, when asked about Mr. Tisei, that the Republican Party has also long treated Massachusetts as an exception, and has in the interest of maintaining control of the Congress, given Massachusetts Republicans a pass with regard to purity. Their willingness to accept Mr. Tisei as an openly gay candidate is an example of this, but it is of limited relevance for the LGBT effort to win equality, and in fact if Mr. Tisei wins, it would be a setback for LGBT issues.

"The fact that Mr. Tisei benefits from the Republicans in Massachusetts exception is no indication that the hostility to openly gay candidates is lessening anywhere else. Second, and most important, while Mr. Tisei is himself supportive of LGBT issues, if he wins the effect will be to help perpetuate a rigid and militant anti-LGBT majority in the House. Voting to keep the Republicans in control of the agenda, as chairs of the committees, and of the leadership positions, means that no effort supportive of LGBT equality will have a chance. John Tierney has been a consistent, enthusiastic supporter of our rights, and will vote to put the Democrats in the majority-- and if the Democrats are not able to take back the House, whatever Mr. Tisei’s personal views are, there will be zero chance of any advancement of any legislation that vindicates equality."

What's next-- will the Victory Fund endorse Aaron Schock, Patrick McHenry, David Dreier, Lindsey Graham, Miss McConnell and the rest of the anti-gay gay Republicans in Congress?

Yesterday, Blue America and a healthy sampling of progressive groups from around the country, from DFA, the National Stonewall Democrats, the Progressive Women's Alliance and grassroots-oriented labor unions to virtually every pro-Choice group in the country, helped openly gay activist Trevor Thomas fight an uphill primary against a wealthy self-funding conservative Neanderthal Democrat, Steve Pestka. Predictably-- and disgracefully-- Victory Fund sat that one out, working instead to push their bizarre, self-serving Tisei agenda. They refused to endorse Trevor, despite his incredible work in getting Congress to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I hope they're real proud of themselves today. Bad group-- real bad.

And speaking of "bad," here's a good list of incumbents with the worst voting records on LGBT issues-- or, I should say, a list of the Democrats running against them. Bachmann's opponent, for example, is Jim Graves; Buck McKeon's is Lee Rogers; and Steve King's is Christie Vilsack. Don't expect Victory Fund to go after these monsters. They're too busy trying to empower them by electing another Republican to the House and defeating a Democrat with a perfect voting record.

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At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congressman is only anti-gay when it comes to policies. Nighttime is a different story.


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