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Barney Frank Explains His Criticism of the National Equality March

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Joy Behar asked Barney Frank last night about health care reform and  about his remarks regarding last weekend's National Equality March. Frank told Michelangelo Signorile before the March: "Barack Obama doesn't need any pressure on these things. Secondly, if you do want to pressure Congress, I don't know what standing on the Mall on a weekend when no member of Congress is in town is going to do. All that's going to pressure is the grass."

Says Frank to Behar: "I am afraid that some people will come to Washington and they will march and think they've done it. That's why I said what I did. Marching isn't a negative thing but to the extent that people think that having marched they've done something effective they wouldn't do something that is effective."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Looks like Barney is backing off from his big talk. After seeing the HUGE amount of LGBT folks who came out to support the march that he considered a "waste of time" it looks like someone is trying to pull their foot out of their mouths. Good luck with that, Barney. The grassroots and the newly engergized young generation of activists are the real power in our movement. When you put yourself into a position where Lady Gaga is calling you out in front of a massive multitude of cheering LGBT people on the West Lawn, then you know you stuck your foot deep into it.

    Posted by: Wayne | Oct 15, 2009 7:39:04 AM


  2. He is such an asshole. With friends like this . . .

    Posted by: Shane | Oct 15, 2009 7:40:26 AM


  3. He is extremely annoying. I used to defend him but there's no point now.

    Posted by: KFLO | Oct 15, 2009 7:56:26 AM


  4. Backtrack much?

    Posted by: dan | Oct 15, 2009 8:02:37 AM


  5. Bluh bluh bluh bluh..." It's not gonna work this time Barney.

    Posted by: JT | Oct 15, 2009 8:11:42 AM


  6. Forget it, Barney. With that single comment you invalidated yourself with an entire generation.

    Now they're just waiting for you to reture and die.

    Sorry, but it's true. It's just politics.

    Next politician!

    Posted by: JeffNYC | Oct 15, 2009 8:13:30 AM


  7. I think Barney Frank is right in the end, the march -is- an innefective way to lobby pass the legislations.

    That doesn't mean it's useless, another blogger (I don't remember if it's Dan Savage or Signorile) said his first march changed his life and made him step into the activist world.

    I think that's what this march is all about. Introduce the young generation to the activism world, let them contact other gay people, and "energize them" so they can start doing stuff that is effective to lobby congress.

    Barney Frank is one of the brightest guy in congress, but with that come the fact he is misunderstood. I reacted negatively to his remark when I first heard them but I don't think I see any backpedalling here I see him trying to make his point since his first attempt to tell people marching won't get anything to congress backfired.

    Posted by: Esurnir | Oct 15, 2009 8:21:34 AM


  8. I'm not Frank's biggest fan. Like too many other gay community leaders (hello HRC), he's too interested in being part of the party than in pressuring it.

    That said, the fact is he's right about the relative political value of marching. In a 500 channel universe nobody cares, while the same level of energy and resources, directed on the ground in congressional districts, etc, would exert real, concrete political pressure on soft supporters while taking out the occasional asshole at the ballot box.

    Marching makes people feel uplifted for a day, but it's no substitute for real political action.

    Posted by: Clay | Oct 15, 2009 8:34:39 AM


  9. Congress may be gone, but they all still own TVs and so does everyone else that isn't present in D.C. The fact that this HUGE march was seen by millions says something strong, no matter what Frank blathers later.

    Posted by: johnny | Oct 15, 2009 8:35:36 AM


  10. Barney's problem was his message was lost in the negativity he said it in. I get his point just the act of Marching doesn't get the laws changed. But the way he said it he made it sound like he was condeming the marchers for wasting time.

    The most important thing to realize is while Barney is an ally, he is also a poltitican and not an activist so like HRC, and the presdient he believes in being slow and patience and he doesn't like a bunch of riled up young gay people that may gather learn and put political pressure on him.

    I was never really for the march, but I am hoping that it does energize the community and causes heavy pressure on the politicians.

    Posted by: kujhawker | Oct 15, 2009 8:46:02 AM



  11. Well I was one of those 250,000 marchers that weasted their time. NOT!!!! Barney, Joe Solomonese and others, you all really missed the boat. We are not Cadillac gays but the real gays, the ones who live as gays on a daily basis. We are the new fae of the movement, a new generation of leaders. I am a young idealist? No, I am a 61 year old activist who is with our young GLBT leaders and marchers on this one.

    Posted by: Donna Lee | Oct 15, 2009 9:07:41 AM


  12. Barney is so steeped in his own little world of Congress that he doesn't realize there are other things that are important. It's not JUST about passing laws.

    The march had symbolic value, and when people like John Stewart pick it up it and Lady Gaga speaks it can have a huge impact. Julian Bond's wonderful speech is on youtube now, and that can silence a lot of the opposition.

    Plus people WILL be energized and young people and older folks can listen to fiery speeches and go back home and DO something. Just because not everything passes through Barney's hands or over his desk doesn't mean it's not important. Idiot.

    Wish I had thought fast enough to say this as he passed us in DCA on the way out of DC!

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Oct 15, 2009 9:30:13 AM


  13. I am so proud that we are represented by someone like Barney Frank; NOT! Useless...

    Posted by: RB | Oct 15, 2009 9:37:01 AM


  14. The only time we need to listen to BF is when we're in his office on the Hill. Time for him to take that HUD appointment and step out of the way.

    (BTW Donna Lee -- Joe Solomnese was among the marchers on Sunday... I should know, since I was right beside him.)

    Posted by: Mike in Houston | Oct 15, 2009 9:53:04 AM


  15. I am so sick of all the bullship that you people put out there, when do you stop whining. If you truly want change start working with the people that can make the change happen.
    How much money do you think was spent on YOUR march. Just think what we as a hole could have done with that kind of MONEY. Add it up, if you spent $200 X 250,000 people that comes to $50,000,000 What a waste of money.

    You realy want to make a difference! than it's time to realy COME OUT! HOW MANY OF YOU ARE REALY OUT? to you freinds, family, & co-workers. I you realy what change than is has to start at home.

    By the way I'm 64 year old, nobody wants change more the me.

    Posted by: Rocky Falco | Oct 15, 2009 10:03:32 AM


  16. he is partialy right

    Unless you go in kissing ass, stroking his and dems egos, filling their pockets with cash, or sending a few hookers their way.......they just don't care

    looking back, Nader seems like a prophet as vs coo-coo. 2 corrupt wings of 1 corporatist party that don't give 2 sh@ts about the people. Kabuki theater going on between the 2 wings of 1 single party

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Oct 15, 2009 10:12:51 AM


  17. So everyone knows, the march came in at under $200,000. End of story.

    The purpose of the march was to inspire and train people to go back home and use the tools of governance to OUR benefit, for once.

    So, the march was a success. There was media training, political training, I myself held a Townhall on race, others helped people of faith understand that they CAN love God and be gay, the Trans community was at the table from the start, yup, pretty good if you ask me.

    We are now in talks getting ready to launch the next stage of grassroots activism.

    It's great that Joe S was there. Really. Would he have been there if it had only been 15,000? The big orhgs have to understand that in this new age, we don't need fancy offices or $1,000 suits to influence our represenrarives. We need organization and spirit. Do you REALLY think half the nation are birthers? No, but, they managed to scare their reps into foing what they wanted. They didn't send in the lobbyists, they took to the streets.

    Btw, BF sat on his ass as the country's financial system went down the drain while he partied with bankers. He is a tool.

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Oct 15, 2009 11:13:52 AM


  18. Barney Frank is a gaping wound in the chest of the gay community. I just called his office. They were unable to come up with a single thing Frank has ever done for gay people. Seriously. Call them yourself if you doubt me.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Oct 15, 2009 11:17:30 AM


  19. Landon,
    What's the number?

    Barney "Miss Mona" Frank: Democrats first, gays, well, a little bit after that.

    Posted by: Attmay | Oct 15, 2009 12:10:29 PM


  20. You mean just like the Million Man march under MLK didn't do anything? Marches on Washington HAS worked in the past to get the politicians off their fat asses. But just because we marched doesn't mean that we can just stop the pressure. Barney is right in that we need to call and write our elected officials in DC.

    Posted by: Kyler | Oct 15, 2009 12:41:40 PM


  21. Barney's number is (202) 225-5931.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Oct 15, 2009 12:55:27 PM


  22. Derek your not lessening, how much did is cost each person to get to DC not the cost of the march but what it cost for a hotel, meals, and don’t forget the parts, God knows there where parts and how many day did they spend in DC. So now what was the true cost of the march? I’m not an old fag; I want the same things you want. But I want to be able to retire and see my grandkids be able to make a descent living.

    God help us if we can’t fix what the Republics Fucked up.

    Posted by: Rocky Falco | Oct 15, 2009 1:51:39 PM


  23. It was a bad choice of words, but the sentiment is correct.

    Marching is important, definitely, for visibility and public awareness - but if everyone who marched spent as much time and effort ALSO calling their senators and representatives, the legislative effect would be far greater.

    Posted by: Casey | Oct 15, 2009 1:53:48 PM


  24. i agree with barney. symbolism is not accomplishment. only when all the marchers return home with their pride and enthusiasm and turn it into action will the march be considered successful.

    Posted by: psgoodguy | Oct 15, 2009 1:58:20 PM


  25. Derek, that's NOT the end of the story. You're forgetting about the money spent by the marchers for travel, food, lodging, all of which would have been unnessary if the march weren't held. Maybe the number isn't quite $50,000,000 but its alot more than $200,000. The point that many are making is that there were other things to spend that money on that would have been more impacting. As far as getting the word out - FOX news showed next to nothing about the march. I don't think its the people that watch Jon Stewart that need to hear us. Its the FOX news crowd and others that don't watch any broadcast news.

    Posted by: chrispy | Oct 15, 2009 2:02:54 PM


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