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Typical Barney Frank

Timothy Kincaid

April 30th, 2012

I don’t know why our community is so enamored of Barney Frank; he certainly doesn’t reciprocate. Frank’s two great loves are himself and the Democratic Party, and the gay community comes in a far distant third, if that.

I first became aware of Frank’s priorities in 1990 when he endorsed Democrat John Silber over Republican William Weld for governor of Massachusetts.

Silber, president of Boston University, was a vocal anti-gay activist and an enemy of equality. And the death of his eldest son from AIDS in 1994 did nothing to diminish his ire. In 2002 Silber (then Chancellor of the University) demanded that the gay-straight alliance at a high-school affiliated with BU be dissolved, accusing the group of “homosexual militancy” to promote gay sex and of, naturally, “homosexual recruitment”.

Weld, on the other hand, had an established record of being supportive on gay issues. He attributed it to being a picked-on fat kid and to having his roommate come out to him shortly out of college.

From the perspective of who would be best for the community there was no question. There was no hesitant possible maybe really they weren’t all that far apart.

Weld won (narrowly) thanks to Democrats who found Weld to be far more consistent with their social policies. They didn’t change their mind, and Weld won a second term in the heavily Democratic commonwealth by 71% – 28%.

Nor did Weld disappoint the gay community. He was quick to appoint gay people to positions of leadership, established the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, and signed executive orders providing equal treatment for such things as hospital visitations and bereavement leave for gay state workers. At some point early in his administration, became convinced of the fairness of marriage equality and when the Chief Justice of the commonwealth’s supreme court (a Weld appointee) wrote the opinion legalizing same-sex marriage for the first time in our nation, Weld’s response was to announce that he’d like to officiate at the wedding of his former chief of staff. The former governor also lobbied the legislature not to seek an amendment overturning the decision or replacing it with civil unions.

In short, Weld was the advocate that the community desperately needed. But Frank endorsed the homophobe.

I say this all to note that Barney Frank is consistent. He can’t be faulted for that. He still puts party affiliation far above what is best for our community.

For example, currently Richard Tisei is running for Congress in one of Massachusett’s six districts. The openly gay Republican is not a token candidate, having served as Senate Minority Leader and as the party’s Lieutenant Governor nominee.

But regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with Tisei’s politics or thinks that he would serve the interests of the district, it goes without saying that Tisei’s presence in the Republican caucus would serve in our community’s best interest. It has long been seen that having a gay person present in any legislative body or subgroup significantly shifts opinion and votes. One can oppose Tisei as a candidate without questioning whether his inclusion in the caucus would be a positive step.

Unless you’re as partisan as Barney Frank. His response to the Daily Beast:

Tisei’s candidacy, said Frank, is “of limited relevance to the LGBT effort to win equality.” He added that were the Republican to win, “it would be a setback for LGBT issues,” since “the effect would be to help perpetuate a rigid and militant anti-LGBT majority in the House.”

What a pompous partisan petty fool. He’s fine to endorse Tierney (who is not an enemy of our community) or to explain how Tierney would better serve us as representative. But to blather as though Tisei would be bad for us illustrates the contempt that Barney Frank has for you and I and how little he thinks of our intellect.

Barney Frank is retiring. And, in fairness, I’m appreciative of the times when Frank could find no advantage to selling out our community and took whatever steps were convenient for him to take on our behalf. But I will not miss him as self-appointed spokesman for my community nor will I long for the days when he encouraged our community to vote against our best interests.

Comments

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Jake
April 30th, 2012 | LINK

I appreciate you speaking up, even if your opinion isn’t the most popular. It helps me remember I’m not alone!!!

TampaZeke
April 30th, 2012 | LINK

I largely agree with your assessment. It’s a shame that Weld backtracked on some of his gay support when he ran for office in New York. It seems that his gay support depends on the temper of the electorate he’s courting at any given time.

Tim
April 30th, 2012 | LINK

I live in Tierney’s district, and respect Tisei far more than Tierney.

But do I really want to help build a Republican majority in the House?

I’d elect a Republican governor (I voted twice for Weld) long before a Republican legislator.

JohnAGJ
April 30th, 2012 | LINK

Hear, hear!

Gene in L.A.
April 30th, 2012 | LINK

Get back to me when you’ve done as much for the gay AND straight communities as Barney Frank has.

Timothy Kincaid
April 30th, 2012 | LINK

Zeke,

I agree. I found his “New York isn’t ready” position to be a huge disappointment. And, well, he turned out to be wrong, didn’t he.

Muscat
April 30th, 2012 | LINK

Frank’s endorsement of Sibler is despicable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is Sibler’s anti-gay stance.

In the case of Tisei clearly this was a statement based in partisanism, but I’m not sure I can muster the same level of righteous indignation. If the choice were between a Democratic majority in the House or Tisei in the house, I’d have to say I think everyone (including gays) would be better off with the Democratic majority. That said, I agree Frank should have chosen his words better.

boywonder3919
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

To be fair to Barney Frank, it’s important to remember that the party that has the majority in the House has the power to choose all committee chairpersons and essentially control the agenda of all legislation taken up by the House. In that sense, it really is somewhat irrelevant if an individual Republican is pro-gay or not. If Republicans have the majority, the party will put in place those who are considered ideologically pure and simply keep the House from ever taking up legislation that would help the LGBT community.

David Roberts
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

What a pompous partisan petty fool.

Are you sure you don’t want to rethink that statement, Timothy? It seems quite harsh for someone who has done a great deal for us.

As I understand the issue, many believe that Tisei, regardless of his sexual orientation, would have little impact on the overwhelmingly anti-gay stance of his party (GOP), nor would he necessarily be able to support a pro-gay stance himself — even if he was so inclined. 

It is also thought that the Republicans want to run him in Massachusetts to accommodate the political climate there and not because of any enlightenment in their views.  If so, supporting him would simply reward that strategy at the expense of the bigger picture.

Frank has show uncanny political savvy over his career, and I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt on these issues. I’m certain he knows more about the unintended consequences of various situations than I do, at least vis-à-vis political strategy. 

While I understand your desire to see some shred of pro-gay light in your own party — something I once anticipated intently myself — I think your attacks on Frank might be more than a little unfair.  After all, he did not create the bigoted monster the GOP has become, he just has to navigate a system where they exist in force.

Ryan
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

As long as there is a GOP majority in Congress, no gay rights legislation will ever pass. Only a pompous partisan fool would think otherwise.

Andrew
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

I was in high school when the Weld / Silber election campaign was going on, and our Boy Scout troop had direct contact with Silber, who was also a highly-placed leader in the Greater Boston Council.

In the early 20th century, the BSA troops in our town, collectively (through the local Scouter’s Club, which does not have an “official” membership of it’s own within BSA), were the recipients of a large land grant. In suburban Boston (12 miles from downtown Boston), you can imagine how precious a few square miles of undeveloped forest might be.

Around the time that he was running against Weld, Silber sued us, declaring that because our troops were members of the BSA, he had the right to seize the property so he could sell it to raise funds for the Greater Boston Council. He lost, but never in my life had I seen such naked evil — literally stealing campgrounds from boyscouts.

When Weld trounced him, and then became the most pro-gay governor in MA history right out of the gate, it was a very, very good thing. I became old enough to register to vote that year, and, inspired by Bill Weld, I registered as a Republican, where I stayed until it became clear in the late 90’s that the Welds of the party were no longer welcome.

Needless to say, I had no idea that Frank had supported Silber. Bear in mind, however that Frank sees the big picture, and is less worried about one local masshole getting elected (which, let’s face it, comes with the territory when you’re talking elected officials) than he is with Congressional majorities. If the presence of a liberal Republican from MA gives the GOP a majority, then all your’e really getting is the will of the party which, trust me, could care less what that one MA Republican thinks. Frank is strategically correct, even if he seems tactically unfortunate.

Thomas
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

Got to say this time I’m with Barney. To assist the unchecked anti gay hatred of the GOP (not even mentioning anti women, anti science, etc) in securing control of the US House would be a disaster not only to gays but to the nation. The GOP is firmly in the hands of the religious right. Tell me, what positive has this party done not just in the last 4 years but in the last 20? I know: we need more wars…

Ryan
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

Exactly, Thomas. Frank didn’t attack Tisel. He simply put forth his opinion that a continued GOP majority would be harmful for our community, regardless of Tisel’s personal views. I can’t for the life of me see how anyone could objectively dispute that.

Stephen
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

This is appalling.

palerobber
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

[…] explain how Tierney would better serve us as representative

uh, Frank explained that very concisely: “the effect [of a Tisei win] would be to help perpetuate a rigid and militant anti-LGBT majority in the House”

so long as Tisei plans to back Boehner and not Pelosi for speaker, his support of various individual LGBT-friendly initiatives is worth nothing. Boehner will never let them come up for a vote.

justme
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

And of course you hate Barney Frank.

Lucrece
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

Wasn’t Frank dragged clawing out of the closet? He’s got some things right, but he’s the consumate politician with the level of self-interest he has shown.

I’m actually appalled that so many people in this comment thread are willing to sacrifice the well-being of gay MA people in order to have a nebulous chance of pro-gay legislation under a Democratic majority.

Jim Burroway
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

Wasn’t Frank dragged clawing out of the closet?

I know Frank is one of those Democrats that Republicans love to hate (like Kennedy, the Clintons and Obama), but I think we should stick to at least some semblance of fact. No, Frank wasn’t “dragged clawing out of the closet.” in fact, as far as I can recall, he was the first politician of national stature who came out under his own steam.

Maybe you’re thinking of Kolbe.

Jim Burroway
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

Also,

I’m actually appalled that so many people in this comment thread are willing to sacrifice the well-being of gay MA people in order to have a nebulous chance of pro-gay legislation under a Democratic majority.

Matthew Shephard Hate Crimes Act
DADT Repeal

In just two years of a Dem majority and chief executive.

Please explain how this kind of legislation would have come about under a Republican majority — even in MA.

Timothy Kincaid
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

I know Frank is one of those Democrats that Republicans love to hate (like Kennedy, the Clintons and Obama), but I think we should stick to at least some semblance of fact.

If that is in any way supposed to reflect on my motivations for writing this commentary, it is inappropriate. It is dishonest to suggest that my opposition to Frank is because he is “one of those Democrats that Republicans love to hate”. That is offensive and dismissive and considering that I have laid out my position, if this was some reference to me, I’ll happily accept your apology.

No, Frank wasn’t “dragged clawing out of the closet.” in fact, as far as I can recall, he was the first politician of national stature who came out under his own steam.

And, for the record, Barney Frank came out amidst the scandal that the man sharing his residence was running a brothel out of his home. And then tried to sell his story to the media. Not exactly “under his own steam”.

The closest to “under his own steam” was your example, Kolbe. He came out instead of being outed, but he didn’t have scandal attached. Bauman, Studds, Hinson, and Frank all did.

Which has nothing to do with why I don’t like him. He’s the consummate wheeler-dealer self-important partisan politician, the epitome of what is wrong with Congress.

Please explain how this kind of legislation would have come about under a Republican majority — even in MA.

Does that challenge include New York or New Hampshire?

Look, with a 50 member lead, this has nothing to do with who will have the majority. If it comes down to one or two then Frank has a point.

This has to do with Barney Frank’s career long inclination to put party ahead of what is best for my community. And because I do not belong lock, box, and barrel to the Democratic Party, I am free to observe it.

He is not our champion. He never has been. Sadly, too many are willing to let him pull the wool over their eyes and USE our community.

We have wised up some. When HRC stops advocating for us and starts trying to use us for their personal careers, we see it. And I’m glad we do.

But ya know, they are only doing what Frank has been doing all along.

Soren456
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

I’m with Stephen.

Personally, I can see beyond the end of my nose. I appreciate the long view of things as it affects me and those around me, and the life we live together.

That’s why I applaud Barney’s refusal to endorse a gay Republican merely because he is gay. I agree with him that a continued and strengthened Republican congressional majority would amount to a setback not just for LGBT issues, but for all issues of social justice and community life.

Timothy Kincaid
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

And if by “Democrats that Republicans love to hate” you mean Teddy Kennedy, I’ll admit that I disagreed with him on many many issues.

But Teddy Kennedy was a true advocate for our community. He was brave and unwaivering in his support and he was never too partisan to work with whomever he needed to work with to get the job done.

Let’s not insult his legacy by comparing him to Frank. Though they may have supported some of the same issue, as politicians they are nearly opposite.

Jim Burroway
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

Timothy,

My remarks were directed towrd the blockquotes, not you. But since you asked…

And, for the record, Barney Frank came out amidst the scandal that the man sharing his residence was running a brothel out of his home. And then tried to sell his story to the media. Not exactly “under his own steam”.

The slimeball was trying to sell his story to the media in 1989. That’s when the House Ethics committee investigation took place.

Frank came out to the Advocate two years earlier, in 1987. You were wrong. There was no scandal attached to his coming out. And as I said, to my recollection, he is the first to have come out on his own initiative and not be chased out.

(Kolbe was being chased out over his shameful vote for DOMA, a vote that he continued to defend even after coming out.)

As I said, Frank is a Democrat that Republicans love to hate. But he is at least entitled to facts and not false accusations when the record is in fact very clear.

Jim Burroway
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

My correction: Frank came out in the Boston Globe, not the Advocate

Ryan
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

@Lucrece, I do not see a single person on this thread who is willing to “sacrifice the well being of gay MA people”. I have no idea what you mean by that. @ Timothy, 4 is not a majority. You’ve made this claim before. No Republican majority has *ever* passed pro-gay rights legislation, (no, not in NY or NH either) and that’s just state. I can’t believe even you with all your confusing optimism would try to imply that a GOP led national Congress would ever –EVER– pass pro-gay rights legislation. Even for you, that’s an utterly fantastical statement.

Timothy Kincaid
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

Jim,

You need to recheck your timeline:

* 1985 Frank hired Gobey
* 1985 Gobey moves in and continues escorting
* May 1987 Frank comes out in Boston Globe
* August 1987 Frank “learns about the problem from his landlord” and kicks the slimeball out (and we agree that Gobey was a slimeball)

The house ethic committee began its investigation in 1989. By then the scandal was in full steam. I’ll give him this, he did what he could to preempt the issue and get his version out first before the scandal broke. And gosh, the committee absolved him.

But you are flat wrong when you say that “there was no scandal attached to his coming out”. I recall the time. No one thought that coming out was purely voluntary.

Yes, Kolbe was chased out. But to think that Frank just coincidentally came out three months before discovering Gobey …. well, let’s just say I have some beachfront property for you to invest in.. it’s right down the road from where you live now.

Timothy Kincaid
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

And again, I really don’t care about his dalliance with a callboy, or inviting him to stay. I don’t care if he ran a full on brothel and changed the porch bulbs to red.

That would not concern me in the slightest.

And if you comment about Frank being the Democrat Republicans love to hate isn’t directed at me, kindly don’t repeat it when addressing me.

Palmer
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

We’ve got it, you hate Barney Frank. (yawn)

Timothy Kincaid
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

Ryan,

The stream of comments went like this:

Jim: “Please explain how this kind of legislation would have come about under a Republican majority — even in MA.”

Me: “Does that challenge include New York or New Hampshire?”

So your comment “Timothy, 4 is not a majority. You’ve made this claim before. No Republican majority has *ever* passed pro-gay rights legislation, (no, not in NY or NH either) and that’s just state.” is not relevant.

No, I didn’t say that four is a majority. And neither Jim nor I were talking about the majority of Republican legislators (although the majority of voting Republicans in New Hampshire did vote for equality and a majority of Republicans in New York did let the vote go forward).

Jim Burroway
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

’ll give him this, he did what he could to preempt the issue and get his version out first before the scandal broke. And gosh, the committee absolved him.

That’s a full two years before the scandal broke. You’re crediting him with an awful lot of prescience. I guess that’s a compliment to him, of sorts.

Lucrece
May 1st, 2012 | LINK

If you’re calling DADT and Hate Crimes an accomplishment given well over 70% public support, you have pretty low standards for Democrats. Maybe I’m too cuckoo-land of a Democrat, but I actually expect politicians who put self-interest aside for partisanship like those Republican outliers in New York, and this is not exclusive to the Republican politicians. Barney Frank has time and again chosen to play nice with his Democrat colleagues at the expense of putting our own in positions to create change.

You then make the leap that supporting a single gay Republican means placing an entire Republican majority in place of the current make-up. Let us recall that if it weren’t for Lieberman and non-partisan hacks, Reid would have been more than happy to let DADT repeal go down in flames for a campaign point.

Forgive me if I prefer to reward individuals over placing blind faith on the letter next to someone’s name. When Gillibrand was first selected as replacement for Clinton, all the gay progressives were snubbing her for not being enough to the left, and the JMG crowd had even commented on voting for her upcoming opposition. Time passed and despite her bipartisanship and seemingly blue dog image she managed to do right by the community, and suddenly the same crowd that had assumed all these things about her were now fawning over her.

Yes, I’m willing to vote for a gay MA Republican over a straight unknown Democrat, so long as said politician hasn’t aired any retrograde views like fellow MA Republicans are inclined to do. He’s not even a LCR type of sugarcoating hypocrite, so that’s what rubbed me particularly the wrong way about Frank’s dismissal. To throw under the bus your own people for the sake of some perceived “greater good”.

What’s the point of any Republican taking risks with standing up for our people if the message we send is “we won’t consider you no matter what you do because you’re in the wrong party, not even if you are one of our own”. That just creates a feedback loop where self-interested Republican politicians will rarely see the benefit of taking a controversial moral stance and we’ll continue to be stymied in our progress while waiting for that magical filibuster proof majority of Senate, House, and presidency.

Ryan
May 2nd, 2012 | LINK

Lucrece, even Timothy says that Tisel’s opponent (Tierney) is not an enemy to our community. He’s not unknown. He’s a gay friendly democrat. It is in no way a selling out of our community for Frank to support a gay friendly democrat over a gay republican, or to quite reasonably opine that one gay Republican will not influence this decidedly far-right wing Congress we currently have in control of the House.

Lucrece
May 2nd, 2012 | LINK

Yeah, but he could’ve endorsed the gay-friendly Democrat without shitting on the impact of people like Tisel.

Jim might have gotten the wrong impression by thinking of me as a Republican that loves to hate Democrats like Frank, but I’m one of those people that is not very tolerant of the LCR types that do put party before community. Tisel is not one, and so the Democrat versions of teh LCR who put party before community as well annoy me to no end.

I get it, you can consider more things when going for a candidate. Healthcare, education. There are many points in which scrutiny upon a Republican candidate is merited, but this is Tisel — a man that ran with a guy who’s made it public that his brother is gay, and chose a gay lieutenant governor. This is not a douchebag like Clarke Cooper downplaying Romney’s homophobia just to maintain access to Republican leadership. He’s different, and for Frank to casually ignore that just seems wrong.

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