Recently, we posted Out Mayor Addresses Alleged ‘Inappropriate Relations’ With College Students, where Alex Morse, an openly gay mayor in Massachusetts, has issued a statement acknowledging he’s had “consensual adult relationships, including some with college students” and “apologized to anyone I have made feel uncomfortable.”
With hindsight being 20/20, and what better year for that, many are calling this a play to the public’s homophobia. Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) represents the Cape & Islands District in the Massachusetts Senate. He is the Assistant Majority Whip and is the youngest member of the Senate. He identifies as LGBTQ and he is not too happy with how Morse and his campaign has been smeared. Cyr recently released this statement:
“As an ‘out’ queer elected official who knows the sex lives of LGBTQ people are too often sensationalized in politics and in media, I find it extremely disappointing that vague and anonymous allegations have been levied against Holyoke Mayor and Congressional candidate Alex Morse without any on-the-record sourcing. It’s alarming that these claims have attracted this level of attention with a swiftness I fear they would have not received if Alex were straight. We know few details about how Alex may or may not have acted with men he met and dated. I worry there isn’t sufficient time to investigate the accusations because the allegations were released literally as ballots hit mailboxes and only three weeks before primary day. I am a big believer in listening to and thoroughly investigating complaints of abuse of power or sexual harassment, especially for those of us who hold public office, but unfortunately the timing of this letter seems to be dictated by a political calendar, not out of concern for revealing the truth. This race will set a precedent for whether vague and anonymous allegations can be easily launched against LGBTQ candidates to destroy their campaigns, or whether investigations will be required before LGBTQ candidates are condemned in the media. This campaign should be debated and won on the merits of the candidates’ ideas and their records of service. Congressman Neal has long been an ally to the LGBTQ community. I urge Congressman Neal to discourage any unsubstantiated accusations that traffic in dangerous stereotypes about LGBTQ people. We all need to understand that the way these allegations have been brought against Alex Morse have a chilling effect on the willingness of LGBTQ people to run for public office in Massachusetts and across the county.”
Senator Cyr was not the only one that thought Sullivan’s statement was laden with homophobia. The LGBTQ Victory Fund, the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office, also condemned Holyoke Councilmember Mike Sullivan’s statement as it attacked the openly gay mayor and Congressional candidate Alex Morse. The Victory Fund reads as follows:
In the statement, Sullivan repeatedly accuses Morse of “sexual activities with teenagers” despite no allegations he had relationships with people underage. Victory Fund believes the use of the word “teenagers” is meant to purposely evoke homophobic stereotypes of gay men as pedophiles.
Sullivan’s statement – which can be read in its entirety here – follows vague and anonymous allegations by Massachusetts College Democrats that Morse had relationships with college students and that some felt “uncomfortable” because he was mayor of Holyoke and a professor. Morse is 31 years old. The motivations of those who released the letter are being questioned.
Sullivan’s statement calls on Morse to resign as mayor and three councilmembers said they will vote to support a recall petition: Councilmembers David Bartley, Howard Greaney Jr. and Linda Vacon. Bartley has endorsed Morse’s Congressional opponent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Vacon is a Republican.
Sean Meloy, Senior Political Director for LGBTQ Victory Fund, said the following about Sullivan’s statement:
“Councilmember Sullivan’s statement is a blatant attempt to mislead voters and appeal to homophobic stereotypes about gay men as pedophiles – and it must be retracted and condemned. He repeatedly refers to ‘sexual activities with teenagers’ knowing full well the word ‘teenagers’ evokes images of middle and high school students – not college students – and that there are no allegations from anyone underage. The architects of these efforts knew this is where the conversation would lead – with no regard for the homophobia it would unleash.
“It is unsurprising that a councilmember who refers to people who are homeless as ‘animals’ would also use homophobia as a political weapon to mislead voters. But we hope Councilmembers Bartley, Greaney and Vacon recognize the homophobic dog whistles for what they are and retract their support for his efforts. The tone of Councilmember Sullivan’s statement shows an animosity and viciousness that extends well beyond the recent allegations. The councilmembers supporting Sullivan must ask themselves whether he would treat a straight candidate the same way.”
Do you agree with Cyr and The Victory Fund? Was this political statement a homophobic attack?
Or was Morse wrong for these relationships? Some are saying that if he was straight and had similar relationships there wouldn’t be any discussion or issue. Is that true? Would it be worse if he was straight?
Or is this now all in the past and we should … as the words say in the picture .. MOVE ON.
What are your thoughts?