John Tierney's 100% Pro-Gay Voting Record Results In An Ugly Stab In The Back By The Victory Fund
Over the weekend, NPR ran a story from WBUR in Boston about how Rep. John Tierney could lose his Massachusetts House seat to Republican Richard Tisei. This is vaguely interesting for a couple reasons: Tisei is (now) openly gay (he used to be in the closet and voted against the LGBT community and says he's sorry); no Republican has held a House seat in Massachusetts in 15 years; and this could determine who holds the Speakership, rabidly anti-gay John Boehner (if Tisei wins) or stalwart LGBT champion Nancy Pelosi (if Tierney is reelected). A further irony: one of the creepiest of the Inside-the-Beltway "I wanna play with the big boys" organizations, the Victory Fund is backing Tisei, despite the Boehner threat and despite the fact that Tierney has a 100% career-long voting record on LGBT issues.
Why would any straight politician want to ever trust the Victory Fund again? And why would any of their wealthy donors-- Henry Van Ameringen, David Bohnett, Jim Hormel, Esmond Harmsworth, Wes Miliken, Jim Johnson, Steve Elmendorf or Ronald Ansin-- think it would be a good idea to get mixed up with these brilliant strategeryists?
Tierney is ranked as the 8th most progressive Member of Congress by ProgressivePunch. This is what he told us about his voting record in regard to LGBT issues specifically: “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."
Victory Fund's strategy is seriously flawed. A group that is not respected on the grassroots level, mostly because they refuse to back openly gay progressive Democrats like Trevor Thomas (and then apologize afterwards), Victory Fund has made themselves into a bad joke. Barney Frank seemed shocked that the group is backing Tisei:
"[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."
Wednesday, WBUR released a poll that shows Tierney with a 7 point lead over Tisei. Boehner held a fundraiser for Tisei, and the National Republican Congressional Committee has pledged nearly $1 million toward a TV ad campaign targeting Tierney. Interesting company for the Victory Fund to be keeping. Or boneheaded.
UPDATE: Barney Weighs In Some More
A few minutes ago Congressman Tierney's campaign issued a press release that explains the press conference Barney Frank held on behalf of his campaign today.
Peabody, MA -- Today, Congressmen Barney Frank and John Tierney held a conference call with members of the media to outline what is at stake in the 2012 election for LGBT Americans and to highlight Tierney’s work for equality and fairness for all. During the call, Frank expressed his full support of Tierney and made a strong case for why voters should re-elect John Tierney this November.
“John Tierney’s election, as opposed to Richard Tisei’s is better for the advancement of the legal equality we are seeking,” said Congressman Barney Frank. “If the Republicans retain control of the House no bill advancing [LGBT rights] will come up. If Democrats take back the House we will be in a position to undo DOMA and pass the Employment Non-discrimination Act (DOMA).”
Barney Frank, the most influential LGBT leader in Congress, contrasted Tierney’s steady record of supporting equality with Tea Party Republican Richard Tisei’s inconsistent pattern on LGBT rights. Frank told reporters that Tisei will not be in a position to advance the cause of equality in Congress and would only empower the right-wing forces that continue to block equality.
Frank said he was appalled that Tisei actually attacked one of his past opponents for supporting gay adoption. He spoke about Tierney’s strong advocacy for the LGBT community and Richard Tisei’s inability to influence his fellow Republicans on issues of equality.
“No legislation that is supportive of us can come up if Republicans are in power. From the standpoint of advancing the legal rights of LGBT people, John Tierney’s election is in our interest,” added Frank, the senior Gay member and the most active leader on LGBT issues.
Richard Tisei has taken numerous votes against equality, including the following:
•Tisei voted against final passage of the bill to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. (H. 5427. Roll Call #483 on 10/23/89)
•Tisei voted to prohibit the Department of Social Services from placing children in its care with gay or lesbian foster parents. (Massachusetts State House Roll Call Vote #94, 5/17/90)
•Tisei voted against a bill to make it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodation, and insurance in Massachusetts. (HR 3123 and Roll Call #701 on 9/23/85)
John Tierney has been endorsed by the influential Bay State Stonewall Democrats and the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LBGT civil rights organization in the country. Earlier this year Tierney launched a coalition of LGBT Leaders that are supporting his campaign.
“I am honored to have the support of my good friend and colleague Barney Frank in this campaign,” said Congressman John Tierney. “I have continually supported equal rights of all Americans and although we have made significant strides toward equality, we still have a long way to go. I will keep fighting to end discrimination against LGBT Americans.”
Mr. Frank emphasized the work the House Democratic majority did to advance LGBT rights from 2007-2010. Frank said if Republicans had been in power during that time they would not have repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Frank also praised Tierney’s support for marriage equality, the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). He went on to cite Tierney's strong record on education policy, help for our fishing communities and other matters, and said his unwavering support for LGBT rights is one more reason to support Tierney.