Antonin Scalia | Barney Frank | Gay Rights | News | Ross Palombo | Supreme Court

Barney Frank Calls Justice Antonin Scalia a Homophobe

Palombo_frank In a new interview with CBS News' Ross Palombo, Barney Frank pretty much reiterates what he said to Towleroad in January about the legislature's near-term goals on LGBT issues, but he also talks about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage and the dangers of having it head to the U.S. Supreme Court at this point:

Says Frank, frankly: "I wouldn't want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia's got too many votes on this current court."

Scalia Frank's response reminded me of the incident which happened back in 2005 at an NYU Q&A where a student stood up and asked Scalia, "Do you sodomize your wife?" His explanation, which I've posted along with this Barney Frank interview, is still worth reading.


And here is then-NYU student Eric Berndt's public statement in response to why he asked Scalia back in 2005 if he sodomized his wife:

"Debate is useless when one participant denies the full dignity of the other. How am I to docilely engage a man who sarcastically rants about the 'beauty of homosexual relationships' (at the Q&A) and believes that gay school teachers will try to convert children to a homosexual lifestyle (at oral argument for Lawrence)?"

"Justice Scalia has no pity for the millions of gay Americans on whom sodomy laws and official homophobia have such an effect, so it is difficult to sympathize with his brief moment of 'humiliation,' as some have called it."

"Beyond exerting official power against homosexuals, Scalia is an outspoken and high-profile homophobe. After the aforementioned sarcastic remarks about gay people's relationships, can anyone doubt how little respect he has for LGBT Americans? Even if no case touching gay rights ever came before him, his comments from the bench (that employment non-discrimination is some kind of "homosexual agenda," etc.) and within our very walls are unacceptable to any self-respecting gay person or principled opponent of discrimination. The idea that I should have treated a man with such repugnant views with deference because he is a high government official evinces either a dangerously un-American acceptance of authority or insensitivity to the gay community's grievances."

"I am 17 months out of a lifelong closet and have lost too much time to heterosexist hegemony to tolerate those who say, as Dr. King put it, "just wait." If you cannot stomach a breach of decorum when justified outrage erupts then your support is nearly worthless anyway. At least do not allow yourselves to become complicit in discrimination by demanding obedience from its victims."

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  1. ""I am 17 months out of a lifelong closet and have lost too much time to heterosexist hegemony to tolerate those who say, as Dr. King put it, "just wait." If you cannot stomach a breach of decorum when justified outrage erupts then your support is nearly worthless anyway. At least do not allow yourselves to become complicit in discrimination by demanding obedience from its victims."

    Wow Dude, your parents really got their money's worth didn't they?

    I'm a left wing liberal homo and even I am put off by "heterosexist hegemony". LMFAO!

    I'm sure the good folks at California Equality have a corner office just waiting for you.

    Kidding aside, I think this kids heart is in the right place. He's right, when we defer to someone out of respect for their position, age, etc., they must also give back the same respect. If they don't, we need to call them out on it.

    Just please don't ever try to use a phrase like "heterosexist hegemony" again. It sounds SO Sarah Lawrence 1974.

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Mar 22, 2009 1:16:25 PM

  2. Berndt is still right. And eloquent.

    And even though I don't always agree with him, I wonder sometimes what we'd do without Barney Frank...

    Posted by: The Milkman | Mar 22, 2009 1:23:47 PM

  3. "Heterosexist hegemony" just means that he's been formally studying LGBT issues, which is great despite how "1974" it sounds. He's already doing more than most people.

    And overall, great response. Shitheads don't deserve respect, and in fact to not mock them is socially irresponsible.

    This was a while ago wasn't it, I wonder what Berndt is up to these days.

    Posted by: Eshto | Mar 22, 2009 1:41:16 PM

  4. "Heterosexist hegemony" means that in order to make a real difference he better learn how to talk to regular folks.

    I'm not knocking him, I just hope he doesn't fall into the trap of speaking in terms that don't relate to the average person. We all need to communicate our needs as citizens in plain English in order to make a real difference. I'd be interested to know what he's doing now as well. Follow up Andy?

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Mar 22, 2009 1:51:33 PM

  5. Heterosexual sodomy is a method of birth control, sometimes known as Italian birth control. So given Scalia's ancestry it is quite possible he is familiar with it or even practices it. Seems like a fair question to one who is against homosexual sodomy.

    Bravo to college youth on the quest for truth!

    So does he? LOL

    Posted by: jessejames | Mar 22, 2009 3:15:20 PM

  6. @DEREK W,

    to be honest, i wish i would have had the balls to confront such a massive, blustering maw as scalia when i was a kid in college. and eric's defense was apt, even though in 2005 we were in the throes of the shrub's stultifying administration.

    hegemony is a good word. it describes heterosexism and the american "might makes right" philosophy to a tee. if we are to talk down to "regular folk", how are we ever going to elevate discourse?

    Posted by: nic | Mar 22, 2009 3:53:07 PM

  7. ross polombo is a cutie. we have the hunky miguel marquez and dan champion also playing for our team. i assume that jeff ranieri and the guy who often anchors the "early today news" are too. what about david muir? gawd he's handsome.

    Posted by: nic | Mar 22, 2009 4:34:04 PM

  8. Nic: Me too on the balls issue. But, I don't think it's talking "down" to people to use English that everyone can understand. The educated classes (wow, that sounds exactly like what I'm ranting against!) will always know what is being said.

    "Heterosexist hegemony" is exactly the wrong way to get a point across because it stops the person it is being said to dead in theri tracks. While the speaker/writer is going on with their subject, the listener/reader is still back on that phrase either thinking "WTF" or pondering why the person didn't say it another way.

    This is why I compared it to California Equality. I think they exist in a world where phrases like this are commonplace and most people don't live in that world. You need to speak to your target market. While this type of language is groovy for a seminar on LGBT higher studies, it falls flat in the real world.

    Sorry to take up so much space with the subject, but, if we want to advance (which is the point of this very smart young man) we MUST get better at expressing our goals.

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Mar 22, 2009 4:51:16 PM

  9. DEREK W,
    you are right in that regard. bush/cheney, tom delay, rush limbaugh, bill o'liely, sean hannity and others of that ilk ('ilk', the favorite term of right-wingers) didn't get where they got by appealing to people's intelligence.

    still, i can't help being a little sad that this is where we are headed. even our harvard educated, constitutional scholar president has adopted the word "folk". whatever happened to the words "people" and "persons"?

    can you imagine what the declaration of independence would sound like nowadays? "we folk think that folks are the same . our christ and lord, says so...."

    Posted by: nic | Mar 22, 2009 5:44:16 PM

  10. Heterosexist Hegemony? I thought that was a shrub pruning term that Martha Stewart would use. You mean it does not refer to pruning one's hedge row?

    Of course Scalia should be spoken to that way, it's called speaking Truth to Power. More people need to do it more often.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Mar 22, 2009 7:55:46 PM

  11. Scalia is in good company. He sits alongside a black racist that hates blacks

    Posted by: frank | Mar 22, 2009 8:17:34 PM

  12. Vassar '79 here and the guy's prose is perfect—exact words for an exact meaning. this is not something to make a joke out of. being an elitist by demeaning someone's writing is so State School.

    Posted by: casey | Mar 22, 2009 8:33:11 PM

  13. I was looking for Scalia's answer.

    Posted by: David@GentsCanineSociety | Mar 22, 2009 9:55:29 PM

  14. I believe his target audience was the NYU Law community as this response was published on the NYU Law listserv. As an FYI, the NYU Law community is generally not afraid of words like hegemony or heterosexist and likely would not have been distracted by them.

    Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about your comment, as it seems to have distracted at least half the people commenting on this thread (including me!) from the important substance of Berndt's message.

    Apology accepted for taking up so much space on this ironic tangent.

    Posted by: YooHoo | Mar 22, 2009 10:07:10 PM

  15. 1. Heterosexist hegemony? Deconstructionist jargon like that is ruining education. GLBT civil rights are a much different beast than the civil rights struggle in the 1960's. There are more heterosexuals. There always have been and always will be, that gives them hegemony.

    2. Barny Frank needs to take his medication. The man is nuts and NO role model for anyone. Save those who wish to be a crooked politician...even then there are better ones.

    Posted by: Diogenes | Mar 22, 2009 10:38:28 PM


    hegemony has very little to do with numbers and everything to do with power and influence. plus, you ain't no Derrida, darlin'.

    i wish i had a dollar for every jackass who still thinks that telling someone to take their meds is a good put-down.

    Posted by: nic | Mar 22, 2009 11:39:02 PM

  17. Does anyone else find it a little funny that after reading an article about reactions to Scalia and this one man's multi-paragraph discussion of why he attempted to challenge and embarass the USSC justice, a few commenters single out one particular phrase from the entire text ("heterosexist hegemony") and spend their comment time analyzing and critiquing the word choice and use of this one particular term rather than looking at the overall argument or issues in the article... And (here's where it gets funny) suggest they're doing so because they're AGAINST an overly academic and/or deconstructionist approach?

    Think about that for a minute.

    Posted by: Bobbyjoe | Mar 23, 2009 12:09:30 AM

  18. i do find it funny, BOBBYJOE.

    Posted by: nic | Mar 23, 2009 12:29:33 AM

  19. "Apology accepted for taking up so much space on this ironic tangent.

    Posted by: YooHoo | Mar 22, 2009 10:07:10 PM"

    YooHoo: Please perform fellatio on my engorged male sexual member. After which I would expect a humble thank you for my allowing you to perform the act of fellatio as per my request.

    Or in English: Blow me and say thank you when I'm done, Bitch. Jk!

    BOBBYJOE: Ironic, no? lol

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Mar 23, 2009 2:10:15 AM

  20. Thanks BobbyJoe. Honestly. The complaint is that it wasn't dumbed down enough for you? Or that it's outdated, i.e., Sarah Lawrence 1974. Personally I'd be thrilled if there were more gay men running around who sounded more like Eric Berndt than the 7th grade girls they usually emulate. Present company included. Usually I love your comments Derek but I think you missed the boat on this one.

    Posted by: ZnSD | Mar 23, 2009 2:37:42 AM

  21. It's depressing to think that anyone in our community would 'bash' someone for using a term like "heterosexist hegemony". Just as we need to be able to battle for our rights in every-day society, we also need to be able to work within the realm of academic theory.

    The concepts of heterosexist hegemony and heteronormativy are far from "deconstructivist jargon". These concepts are the core theories of the gay civil right movement. Just because you don't understand that academic theories are a vital part of the social world does not mean they aren't valid.

    Posted by: alex | Mar 23, 2009 3:10:56 AM

  22. chers---

    how 'bout "the abuse of healthy straight white wealthy male privilege"? why he(d)ge?



    Posted by: richard kearns | Mar 23, 2009 3:59:47 AM

  23. DEREK W is a smart guy, and he made a valid point in that the kid's statement would likely not play in Peoria. but, from what i gather, the young man made an appropriate statement in the appropriate forum. what pissed me off was the "deconstructionist" b.s. comment.

    i, too, wonder what scalia's response was and what the young guy is up to now.

    Posted by: nic | Mar 23, 2009 4:12:07 AM

  24. The fact that Barney Frank is now all over the news (as he's slowly gained a rather lofty and visible place in Congress) and slagging off Scalia is music to my eyes.

    Posted by: Bruno | Mar 23, 2009 6:54:00 AM

  25. Thanks for posting this. I heard it when he said it, but had forgotten the brilliant eloquence and power of his words.

    Posted by: Craig | Mar 23, 2009 8:45:11 AM

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