In late 2009, as Tisei prepared to be his party’s lieutenant-governor candidate, he confirmed that he is gay in a Boston Globe interview. In 2010, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) was easily reelected and, for the first time since Tisei’s college days at American, he was out of politics.
Now trying to join Boehner — whose 2010 campaign manifesto included language opposing gay marriage — Tisei takes an evolutionary rather than revolutionary approach to gay rights and the congressional agenda. “If I’m in the caucus, people are going to see me, they’re going to get to know me. Just the fact that I’m there, is going to make a lot of people question, or think about the issue differently,” he said.
“Rather than poking somebody in the eye, the best way to deal with it is to let them evolve. I’ve seen all kinds of people, Democrats and Republicans, change their opinions of it over time,” he added.
This last point has driven Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the most-well-known gay member of Congress, and some other prominent gay advocates to vigorously campaign against Tisei, suggesting that his unwillingness to agitate will mean that he is a lesser advocate for gay rights.
“The fact that Richard Tisei is openly gay is a good thing. The problem is that it is of no use to us,” Frank said in a conference call organized by Tierney’s campaign.
Tierney, after warning seniors about Ryan’s Medicare plan at a retirement home in Peabody, Mass., said that Tisei “sold out and sold out early” to gain financial support from Boehner, Cantor and Ryan.
“He’s not an outspoken advocate,” Tierney said, saying his opponent ducks gay rights and other social issues.
Tisei rejects any attempt to link him with Romney, the tea party or national GOP leaders. “I’m, like, my own person. And at the end of the day, I do my own thing,” he said.