March 4, 2014 at 3:29 pm EST | by guest columnist
Victory Fund’s dangerous endorsement
Richard Tisei, Republican, Massachusetts, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay Republican Richard Tisei is challenging a pro-LGBT Democrat for Congress in Massachusetts. (Photo courtesy of Tisei).



Recently, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed former Massachusetts Republican Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, who is openly gay, for Congress. Although I applaud Tisei — and all LGBT political candidates who run for public office — this endorsement is not justified and sets a dangerous precedent.

Tisei’s opponent, Democratic Rep. John Tierney, has been a staunch champion for LGBT rights — even when it wasn’t popular. He backed marriage equality in Massachusetts, despite the criticism. He has supported the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act; he was a strong and early supporter of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and he has a HRC score of 100 percent in the 112th Congress.

Tierney’s support for LGBT causes is clean, clear and perfect.

And, Congressman Tierney will do one thing Tisei will not do — vote for Leader Nancy Pelosi as the next Speaker of the House.

It is no secret that Speaker John Boehner does not support ENDA, claiming it is not necessary. Nor is it a secret that the GOP continues to block or stall every single LGBT advancement at all levels, and in all parts of the country. Given the recent events in Arizona, ENDA is needed now more than ever and if Democrats were in control, ENDA would be the law of the land. Make no mistake, Tisei’s potential vote for Boehner would be a vote to further delay justice for LGBT Americans who face employment discrimination.

Torey Carter, COO of the Victory Fund, said Tisei’s election to Congress would “shatter a glass ceiling for the Republican Party” and “further the dialogue within the GOP about LGBT issues.”  With all due respect to Carter, at what cost and at whose expense? Should those who fight for LGBT rights have to sit by and wait for the Republicans to understand? Additionally, in order to “further” one must “start.” They have had 40 years to start the dialogue and who is gullible enough to believe Tisei can help them with that process?

This country has moved on and the election of Tisei over Rep. Tierney would represent a major setback for LGBT Americans. We must never, ever turn our backs on those who have championed our causes, like Tierney, simply to “shatter glass” or “further dialogue (within the GOP)” or whatever other reason the Victory Fund uses to describe this dangerous endorsement.

Joe Racalto is president of Giesta Racalto, LLC. He served as former Rep. Barney Frank’s senior policy adviser and is a board member at Freedom to Work.

  • Eric

    Are you fucking people retarded? You’re bitching about how Tisei won’t vote for Pelosi? How about promoting LGBT causes instead of being a bunch of whiny liberal ass fucks who bitch about things online, yet don’t do anything to change the world.

    • Stephen Clark

      How does installing John Boehner as Speaker–who will do the bidding of bigots and block every single piece of gay rights legislation–promote LGBT causes? And, for that matter, how does turning the word r*t*rded into a slur advance them either?

  • Matthew

    Pelosi opposed confirming the judge who overturned Prop 8.

  • Peter Rosenstein

    The Victory Fund is bi-partisan or with the ridiculous early endorsement of Independent Catania in DC- ridiculous because the endorsement came before he even decides to run- now at least tri-partisan. I accept that they endorse gay candidates but clearly when they endorse someone like Tisei it puts them at the risk of losing support from many of their stalwart members. I remember how long it took for the HRC to recover from their endorsement of Al D’Amato.

    I think that this column is right on the mark. Electing Tisei won’t move forward the LGBT agenda in Congress and may in fact keep it from moving forward for a longer period of time.

    That being said I will still attend the Victory Fund brunch in DC while I make the decision to not support Tisei. I have other issues with the Victory Fund and they are that when they decide not to endorse a gay candidate they totally abandon them and don’t find a way to let people know about other LGBT candidates who are running. That doesn’t help our community build a bench for the future.

    We have seen that being a member of the LGBT community no longer guarantees you that the community will vote for you. That was clearly shown in New York last year with the defeat of Christine Quinn. It will happen again this year with candidates like Tisei and Catania (if he runs) losing much of the LGBT vote because their opponents are just as good on LGBT issues and may be perceived by the electorate as better on other issues. That may actually be a good thing as our advocacy has moved the nation forward on our issues and the Victory Fund can legitimately claim some credit for that.

    As the LGBT community becomes more sophisticated in their voting decisions we will still need organizations like the Victory Fund but they may find that they will have to modify their criteria for endorsements and give more publicity to those LGBT candidates they don’t endorse if they want to continue to find the level of support they now have.

  • Tom Lang

    Has anyone checked out Richard Tisei’s Facebook page? He was posting photos of himself with Ronald Reagan, lauding Reagan as his inspiration and hero. This is the same Richard Tisei who as a MA voted AGAINST HIV funding and gay adoption when we needed his vote. When I personally asked his “why?”, his only excuse to me was “I wasn’t ‘gay’ back then.” And let me tell you this about the marriage equality fight in MA. Tisei was a ghost. I was pushing and trying to educate the Republicans. Tisei was publicly “in the closet” and non existent in the process. We needed him. The vote switches with Republican leges had nothing to do with Tisei. I learned just the other day that even fellow senator Jarret Barrios(R) sent a gay state trooper to talk to Tisei to educate him about gay people. That was in 2005. I have no problem with Tisei taking on Tierney in a forum about other issues, but Tisei now becoming a Gay spokesperson and receiving funding from Victory Fund–pure bullshit!!

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