by Leah Waldron
Richard Tisei has been called a lot of things, but a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” seems to be his most popular nickname. If elected to Massachusetts’ 6th Congressional District this November, the former State Senator will be the first openly-gay Republican on the Hill.
Like most gay Republicans, Tisei is all over the conservative and liberal map, which I have to give him props for. I may not understand a gay person’s choice to be a Republican (it’s a choice!), but I’d rather have a pro-gay Republican than an anti-gay Republican.
Right? [Looking around the room nervously]
I strongly believe that political passion is a virtue, but thinking outside the ballot box is a skill, and Tisei has it in glorious gay spades. But if a gay Republican is pro-gay rights, but anti-ObamaCare and pro-Bush Era economics, how is the gay community supposed to react to our “representative” Tisei?
Is he a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or a unicorn in, well, unicorn clothing?
As expected (or not expected?), Tisei is in full support of gay marriage. Tisei and his partner of 18 years live together in Wakefield, Massachusetts, where Tisei is a small business owner. In June of 2007, Tisei voted down a measure to Constitutionally redefine marriage in Massachusetts. In an interview with the “Boston Globe,” Tisei sold himself as a gay, aisle-hopping, maverick: “I think I can do more for marriage equality than anybody else can right now.” Well said, Takei. (I mean Tisei!) He’s called DOMA unconstitutional, and has promised that, if elected, he will never turn his back on gay rights. So we know the ‘mo is pro-gay.
However, Tisei is not screaming his pro-gay stance from atop Faneuil Hall. On his campaign website, Tisei surreptitiously left out any mention of gay marriage and gay rights from his detailed “Issues” list (here’s what he did mention: debt, health care, education, veterans, senior citizens, jobs). So we know he’s got a little bit of Republican in him. To be fair, Tisei’s opponent, incumbent Democrat John F. Tierney, also left out gay rights on his website’s Congressional to-do list. (Maybe they feared that two pro-gay supporters cancelled each other out?)
On ObamaCare, Tisei has made it clear that he would repeal the law faster than you can say Log Cabin Hoedown. That said, he helped pass RomneyCare in Massachusetts (sound familiar?). On gun control, an issue that has gained national attention since last week’s shooting in Aurora, Colorado, Tisei hemmed and hawed about a ban on assault weapons, while Tierney said he would support an immediate ban (and then called Tisei a poster boy for the NRA). Speaking on the Colorado tragedy, Tisei said: “In this case, there is no law that could have prevented this tragedy from taking place.” Strike one. However (and there’s always a however with this guy), Tisei told the press that “Maybe we should put more resources into mental health.” Tierney, of course, agreed.
On abortion, Tisei is pro-choice. No “howevers” there. He has even pledged support for government funding of Planned Parenthood (whoa!). But in fiscal matters, Tisei is Republican all the way. His motto is “the government should get out of your bedroom, off your back and out of your wallet.” And God help you if you fall asleep with your wallet in your back pocket.
Despite Tisei’s liberal leanings, the Republican Party has inducted him into their “Young Gun” organization, which guarantees him funding, support and plenty of publicity in his run for Congress (a majority of candidates with a Young Gun status win their respective elections). I assume that the GOP is willing to look the other way on his social policies, as long as he continues to represent the Party’s fiscal interests. And why shouldn’t they be happy? They reeled in a live gay.
So now the question is, should we be happy, too?
The Kings English