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Barney Frank discusses ‘being gay in Congress’

Barney Frank: “We have demonstrated to most Americans that they’re not homophobic.”
4:05 p.m., March 30, 2004--U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) discussed his experiences as a gay man in the federal government in a talk March 29 at UD. Frank’s lecture, “Being Gay in Congress,” was part of the LGBTQ (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Questioning) lecture series.

Frank, who began his career in politics in 1968 as an assistant to then Boston Mayor Kevin White, talked about the days when gay rights was not an issue because no one would discuss them. Frank said that although his position with White’s office was to deal with liberal groups, he never once dealt with the issue of gay rights.

While gay rights activists are certainly a long way from their ultimate goal of equality, Frank said, “the progress has been enormous.”

After Frank outlined his career in politics and his experiences as a gay man, the lecture turned to the hot topic of gay marriage and the upcoming presidential election.

Frank criticized President George W. Bush for his recent outspoken support of a constitutional ban on gay marriage, calling his actions “unseemly.”

“President Bush embraced anti-gay marriage not to gain votes,” he said, “but to avoid losing them.” Frank said he regrets that the gay marriage issue has become partisan. A politician’s support for a cause like gay marriage should not be dictated by his party affiliation, he said.

Frank predicted that, within his lifetime, the issue of gay marriage will become a nonissue, much like the issue of civil unions. Just three years ago, he said, civil unions were opposed by many groups who now favor civil unions over legalizing gay marriage.

Frank said the gay rights movement has effected “the most fundamental political change for any cause in the last 30 years.” He said he is proud of the progress that has been made and continues to be made in the U.S.

“We have demonstrated to most Americans that they’re not homophobic,” he said. “They just thought they were supposed to be.”

Article by Kevin Tressler, AS ‘04
Photo by Duane Perry

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