A veteran US politician has said that the teenage pregnancy of Republican candidate for Vice President Sarah Palin “underscores the flaws in the political philosophy that was critical to her being selected by John McCain.”

Barney Frank has represented the 4th District of Massachusetts since 1981, and is one of two out gay people in the House of Representatives.

Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Congresswoman, is the only lesbian in the House.

An outsider in Congress Frank, a Harvard-educated lawyer, came out in 1987, and his political opponents have tried to smear and unseat him on many occasions.

Congressman Frank said in an article in the Boston Globe that Governor Palin’s daughter is “entitled to be treated with compassion.

“But that is precisely the point that makes this a relevant political issue. Palin was selected by McCain in substantial part because of her high standing as a leading advocate of the socially conservative wing of the Republican Party.”

It was revealed last week that Governor Palin’s 17-year-old daughter Bristol is five months pregnant, and is to marry the teenage father.

While Sarah Palin’s supporters stressed that she had informed Senator McCain of the situation before he offered her the Vice Presidential slot, others were taken aback.

On course to become a grandmother at aged 44, Ms Palin, who is the Governor of Alaska, issued the following statement:

“We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us.

“Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned.

“We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents.”

Congressman Frank said:

“The glaring inconsistency between the social philosophy that blames liberalism for divorce and teen pregnancy and the facts of Palin’s family life further underlines the serious shortcomings of that philosophy.

“This does not mean that family members are “fair game,” a view that some have inaccurately attributed to me. People are not “game,” fair or unfair. They are human beings who often face difficult personal decisions.

“The relevant political point about the existence of these incidents in Palin’s family is not that they reflect badly on her or her relatives, but that they further reveal the central flaw of the harshly judgmental and intolerant philosophy she exemplifies.

“That is why the questions of divorce and teen pregnancy are relevant in discussions of the McCain/Palin ticket.

“The individuals involved in these cases deserve to be treated with compassion, but so do millions of other Americans who find themselves in similar situations.

“But, sadly, they are often met with criticism and hostile public policy formulated by those who now claim Palin as their political champion.

“Too often, people on the right seek to impose strict standards on others, and blame them for falling short, while making exceptions for those close to them. Respect and compassion should extend to all who find themselves in similar situations.”

Governor Palin was Senator John McCain’s surprise choice as running mate.

She has been Governor of Alaska for less than two years, but her rightwing credentials, opposing gay rights and abortion, have made her a popular choice with grassroots Republicans.

If elected the former small town mayor would become the first woman to take office as Vice President.

While she claims to have gay friends and is receptive to arguments about discrimination, she said she would support a statewide ballot question in Alaska that would deny benefits to homosexual couples.