BOSTON — The former leader of the Massachusetts Senate GOP could soon hold the title of the first openly gay Republican to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Hill reports that Richard Tisei’s race against incumbent Democrat John Tierney is heating up in this gay-friendly district, thanks to Tisei’s libertarian pro-gay, pro-choice stances, and scandals roiling Tierney’s family.
Tisei was Republican leader in the Senate for 4 years from 2007-2011, and left his position to run as the Republican nominee for Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor in 2010, sharing a ticket with GOP Gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Baker. The Baker/Tisei ticket was unable to unseat incumbent Governor, Deval Patrick.
Former GOP Reps. Jim Kolbe and Steve Gunderson both served several years as openly gay men, but came out after being elected.
Arizona’s Kolbe was outed in 1996 after voting in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act. He was successful in winning re-election 5 times after being outed, retiring in 2007. In 2010, President Obama appointed Kolbe to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.
Wisconsin’s Gunderson was outed by fellow Republicans on the House floor in 1994, and was the only Republican in the House to vote against DOMA. He declined to run again after coming out and now lives in Virginia with his partner.
Other Republicans outed in Congress have retired upon coming out, or shortly after, as in the case of Mark Foley, in 2006.