Around New England

Barney Frank Backs Richard Neal Over Alex Morse

August 21, 2020

Barney Frank was one of the first openly homosexual members of the United States Congress, but he is backing a straight man in Massachusetts’s First Congressional District in 2020.

Frank, 80, whose district from 1991 to 2013 included his official residence in Newton, wants Democrats in western Massachusetts to re-elect U.S. Representative Richard Neal to another term over his primary challenger, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.

Morse, who is openly homosexual, is fending off allegations that he pursued sexual hookups with college students as a public official and lecturer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has drawn support from some homosexuality-affirming observers who see prejudice behind the accusations against him.

In a statement to MassLive, Frank said that Neal is a “great asset for progressive accomplishments.”

“He has been a strong enthusiastic supporter of every step in our fight for his entire Congressional career,” Frank said. “I believe my obligation to defend allies against unfair accusations is as strong, for both ethical and practical reasons, as my duty to counter-attack the bigots.”

Frank also recalled that Neal stood by him when Frank was reprimanded by the U.S. House in 1990 for fixing parking tickets for a homosexual male prostitute who lived in Frank’s Washington D.C. home during the late 1980s and entertained customers there. (Frank said he didn’t know about the man’s illegal activities at the home.)
 
Frank expressed appreciation this week for Neal’s support 30 years ago, although Neal voted for the reprimand. At the time, some members of Congress wanted Frank censured, which is a harsher form of sanction, but the reprimand prevailed 408-18.
 
Frank represented the current Fourth Congressional District in Massachusetts before U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton), who is giving up his seat to challenge U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-Malden) in the September 1 Democratic primary.

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