Barney Frank on the National Equality March: Everybody Stay Home, Obama Doesn’t Need the Pressure

Barney Frank was a guest on Michelangelo Signorile's radio show yesterday and spoke about the hate crimes bill (which is still attached to a DoD appropriations bill despite a challenge this week) which should get a vote next week and be along to Obama's desk for signature, ENDA, the DOMA repeal, and the National Equality March.

Barney Of the March, Frank said: "I literally don't understand how this will do anything. People are kidding themselves. I don't want people patting themselves
on the back for doing something that is useless. Barack Obama does not need pressure."

According to Signorile, "He says we should model
ourselves as lobbyists on 'the National Rifle Association.' He says
people should not come to Washington and should stay home and lobby
their members of Congress. 'Nobody in Congress even knows they're
there, he says, and he is not attending the March: He is going to
California to raise money for himself and other Democrats.'"

We won't be taking his advice, and we'll see some of you in D.C.

On that note, Emma Ruby-Sachs in the Huffington Post has written a speech for Obama to give at the HRC dinner, and Jose Antonio Vargas has a wish list in the Huff Post as well.

Also, Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson offers his $.02.

Listen to Signorile's interview with Barney Frank here.


  1. says

    I’m sorry Barney, you are wrong on this one. Obama has made it quite clear that to get our issues to the forefront, we need to work to get them there. Lobbying is part of the picture, but so is making equality a bigger national issue that can’t be ignored.

    It was part of the strategy in 1963 and it should be now too. Obama knows that and so do we. [Oh wait, Frank didn’t think of it himself.]

  2. says

    I’m getting so tired of his crap. It isn’t about “pressure” – the equality march is about coming together and letting the country know our numbers and our values.

  3. antny says

    He only wants to advance gay issues on his terms. In Massachusetts he didn’t want us to pass marriage equality until he thought it was the right time. When will he wake up to the fact that we are sick of waiting. I’m sorry if Obama doesn’t need the pressure, but it comes with the job.

  4. Gregoire says

    Why can’t it be about organizing AND lobbying? Barney, you don’t sound very versatile!

    Besides I highly doubt I’ll ever be a part of something that ‘models’ itself after the National Rifle Association.

  5. Beefandfur says

    I’m just worried that low turn out numbers will be used by the media and others to show that we aren’t a force to deal with. The march will definately get attention, but only after the media and the spin masters process it will we know if it’s a win or a fail.

  6. Jonathan says

    I agree that we need to organize at the local level, but calling the march useless is a total dick move.

    “Barack Obama does not need pressure.” Right, he just needs to be paid off. Just ask Goldman Sachs.

  7. says

    What is with all these ingrained establishment leaders telling the LGBT community when and how to fight for their rights, saying what we can and can’t do?

    I’d also like to hear from Representative Frank how he plans on keeping our youth inspired and our pool of LGBT activist leaders sustainable, which is exactly what an inspiring National Equality March will do. Should we stay home and just have conference calls?

  8. says

    “It would be more effective to act like lobbyists for “the National Rifle Association” and stay home to lobby their representatives”

    So basically he wants us to send them all our money and buy them stuff to get our Equal Rights.

    Blanche has been losing it for awhile.

  9. sparks says

    Uncle Barney has a point, but I don’t agree that marching is “useless” — if nothing else, it helps with community cohesion and gives people motivation and a message to take back to their local representatives. Large events with big crowds also tend to get people involved who normally would be timid about being in the public eye. Yes there’s power in numbers.

    And, honestly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with applying a little extra pressure to Obama, and to let him know that ACTION will be the only way he’ll get our support for reelection. Some of the things he could do for LGBT issues — right now — wouldn’t actually take much of his time. So I believe the “his plate is full” argument is moot.

  10. Kugel says

    If the numbers are low, this will be counter-productive. I work and live in The Castro and I have not even heard one word from anyone about this outside of the blogs. I don’t know anyone going. This thing is all-advised, poorly organized, and counter-productive.

  11. Grimmlok says

    oh suck it Barney, you toothless old hag. You’re too busy giving BJ’s in the capitol hill washrooms to notice that the House Faggot routine has been dumped some time ago.

    The gAyTM is CLOSED till Obama and the quisling Dems DO SOMETHING CONCRETE. Get that through your head.

  12. Z says

    I don’t always agree with Barney, but he’s right about this one. Obama is not the problem, Congress is. A march isn’t going to produce anything. The only thing that matters is changing the minds of people in Congress who are on the fence, or booting them from office if they won’t. The money that’s going to be spent on the march could be put to much better use defending marriage in Maine or lobbying Congress for ENDA.

  13. Komiza says

    While I don’t agree in entirety with his comments, I think Barney makes a valid point, and while I’m encouraging as many people as possible to attend the march this weekend, I hope this march energizes people to continue working and lobbying in their home states. It is important to bring national attention to these important national issues such as Hate Crimes legislation, DADT, ENDA, but why don’t we put Obama to the real test and pressure our local politicians to get this legislation to his desk.

    I just fear some repeat of what I saw during the Prop 8 battle, where people in the Castro District of San Francisco were being asked to vote against Prop 8. Who went to Fresno? Tell me where that huge initiative was?

    Again, I’m all for the march, and I hope it is hugely successful, but I think we need to remember this is only one piece and while I certianly agree there are specific things Obama could be doing (DADT specifically) we also need to work hard locally to move this legislation.

    I’m just tired of listening to people who are pissed at Obama and then can’t tell me who their House Representative is.

    And don’t forget about Washington and Maine!! Nov. 3rd is a big day for our movement!! Get your activism on.

  14. says

    The numbers will mean nothing. Its all aboout showing that we are PISSED OFF, And if the numbers are lkow there will be enough blame to throw at the HRC and other Orhanizatiosn that hemmed and hawed until ver late in the game and did nothing to help.

  15. DR says

    OK, I’m a total cynic of this due to what I see as a lot of poor organization. BUT… Obama does need to feel pressure from our community. Protests need to happen. We can’t just sit home and send money to leaders (like Frank), who seem to be labouring under the continued delusion that simply sending $$$ to them works. It doesn’t.

    Frank is turning into a bigger and bigger tool as this administration goes on.

  16. Derrick from Philly says

    As much as I admire, respect, and agree with Barney Frank– he should have kept his mouth shut on this one. If he can’t support the march then don’t say anything. The President, the Congress, the country need to see that Gay Americans are frustrated. The President also needs to see that Gay Democrats are frustrated with the President’s slow pace on civil rights for gay people.

    Congressman Franks’ comment is like Congressman Adam Clayton Powell saying to Dr King and the civil rights folks in 1963, ” this march is useless; President Kennedy doesn’t need this pressure.”

    I support my President and I don’t like vicious attacks on his character, but the march is a good thing–no gay person should be against it.

  17. JimmyD says

    Grimmlok: Well said. I certainly hope you’ll be a speaker this weekend. You’re a poet.

    Kugel: I’m also in SF. I’ve know about the march for several months. It’s been well publicized. I think a big problem is many people on the west coast simply can’t afford to make the trip. Most of my east coast friends are going. But for them it’s a three or four hour train ride. It can be a day trip.

  18. yeahisaidit says

    …it is CONGRESS, CONGRESS CONGRESS who needs pressure…is no one listening? It doesn’t totally devalue the march, but please understand it as a springboard to pressure and lobby CONGRESS so it won’t be a waste…like mentioned earlier, keep Pres. Obama’s feet to the fire, but CONGRESS needs to feel WHITE HOT HEAT…

    “I’m just tired of listening to people who are pissed at Obama and then can’t tell me who their House Representative is.”

    This statement posted by someone above is what stands out above most all else…C’MON GUYS! (and that includes girls too…GLB&T, everyone…) Go march…but then come home and get vocal local…we need more of that…

  19. says

    I think BARNEY needs some calls. perhaps HE needs some pressure


    2252 Rayburn Building
    Washington, DC 20515
    tel: (202) 225-5931
    fax: (202) 225-0182

  20. 24play says

    If there’s poor turnout—and there will be—it’s all Cleve’s fault. Everyone told him 1) more time was needed to organize a national march and 2) that it had to be truly organized at a grassroots level. Cleve ignored the former and only paid lip service to the latter.

    NEM FAIL = Cleve Jones FAIL

    But, unfortunately, it’s the entire community that will have to pay the price for Cleve’s arrogance and laziness.

  21. JimmyD says

    Wolfie: Excellent.
    Might I suggest: Print out this story, with all the comments and FAX it to Mr Frank. That’s what I’m gonna do.
    Thanks for the phone/FAX numbers!!

  22. says


    Oh you mean instead of the whole community NOW paying and continue to pay because of HRC’s ass kissing, arrogance and laziness? At least with Cleve we take back the power that the HRC has made useless.

  23. Jeff In Boston says

    This is why we in Massachusetts love Barney so much. He’s one of the reasons we’ve gotten as far as we have in this state. Go to the march and then return to your marriage-less, right-wing states all smug in the knowledge you’ve sure shown Barney Frank what real progress is all about. 😉

  24. Christian says

    This man has me so confused. One minute I’m fully behind him; another minute I’m embarrassed by him. Then there are times when he full on misses the point. I wonder if he exhausts himself from all of his responsibilities, then shoots his mouth off when his brain is too tired.

  25. says

    Jeff In Boston thats THE PROBLEM we don;t ALL LIVE in Blue States. And I actually lived in Boston during the whole Gay Marriage episode it could have just as easily gone the other way if it wasn;t for DiMassi stalling and then ;eaning om the Legislature for so long.

  26. JT says

    We need a gay Bill O’Reilly to smack Barney Frank down, again. When Barney’s criticized he does nothing but try to obscure the issues by talk, talk, talking, “Bluh, bluh bluh, bluh..” Anyway, I don’t like personal attacks on Obama, either, but anybody who’s not at this march better have a very good reason not to be– like money or health.

  27. 24play says

    I’m sorry, Wolfie. Was there some portion of my comment in which I praised HRC? Did I inadvertently imply that somewhere?

    To get our rights addressed, we have always needed to have a demanding presence both on the streets and in the halls of power. And, unfortunately, Cleve’s Ego March is about as effective at the former as HRC is at the latter.

  28. says

    All I know is that whatever tack those Tea Baggers take, I want to take one that’s more effective.

    Short of having FOX News in our pocket, I don’t see how we can hope to garner a fraction of the attention those conservative bigots did.

    Frank is wrong… Obama needs the pressure. We’re just applying it the wrong way. This march is useless.

  29. Alex Paris says

    I love me some big purple dinosaur but i have to disagree with him here. I could care less how much pressure Barack has to deal with. Its his job. He has the perfect storm to enact change, real, lasting change in this country and he’s not doing anything. I wish i could give Congressman Frank a piece of my mind.

  30. says

    24Play but at least its a start. And do you see anyone else stepping up to bat? You may not like Cleve but at least he is trying. And no you said nothing about the HRC but that is the counter. You see NOT ONLY Cleve needs to step up. WE ALL DO, We have all been far to content sending money to the HRC because they’ve been feeding us the BS about how close they are and how much work they do. Then we find out they are striking up deals about what will be worked on when and handing out quarter million dollar paychecks.

    First off we need to crate a new lobbying organizatio that the cause is more impotant than a bloated weekly paycheck and nice shiney offices and out our support behind them and basically FIRE the HRC,

    And secondly we all need to fight, we all need to stand up. We need to protest and we do need to lobby ourselves. But e need to yake a page from the other sides playblook. How do you think the Right Wing groups gets things through. They not only put pressure on Dems. They put masive pressure on thier OWN REPUGS and put the fear in them that they don;t make it owrk that they will no longer be supported by money or votes.

    We have been far too easy on everyone for far too long.

  31. john says

    I think Barney’s probably right, but as the vitriol in some of the postings shows here, the gay community loves to shoot itself in the foot, so go ahead.

  32. Lonnie says

    Barney Frank, drop dead. You are irrelevant. And a homphobic fat piece of dog shit.

    I see no difference between Barney Frank and Rick Santorum beyond the rhetoric. Both oppose gay rights.

  33. David B. 2 says

    I loved the marches I attended in the 80s and 90s — it is much more about unity and togetherness in a movement and less about getting progress inside the room in Washington.

    That said, Why not hold Obama’s feet to the fire.. we are watching him and he should know.

  34. Randy says

    Barney is an idiot, trying to cover up for his mismanagement of the country’s economic situation.

  35. anon says

    He’s basically saying that the march will hurt the Democratic parties chances in the midterm elections and their ability to raise money this fall for candidates in close districts. As one of the House leaders in charge of fund raising, he has to say whatever it takes to get the $$ in for the next election. Pity that it involves ignoring gay rights.

  36. says

    Barney Frank is personally threatened anytime the gay establishment is threatened. HE is much more the useless, toothless pawn of the DNC than HRC is. Of course he hates this march. It is not all about him. It is in favor of rights for LGBT people, a cause he is no more enthusiastic about than any other Democrat in Congress.

    Do call Frank’s office and let him know you heard these comments and demand an apology. Demand his presence at the march. Let him know that you’ll remember this.

  37. RJ says

    I agree with Frank and Z. Your money will be well spent elsewhere. How many of you are staying at a Marriot? That’s owned by Mormons, they very people who hate you. This March will produce nothing but a 3 minute news segment. Stay home, don’t waste gas, and money. Do your part locally.

  38. Sargon Bighorn says

    Young Gay Americans don’t vote, but they sure as shit like a big party! This March is a waste all around. Time, money, effort, people, energy, visibility, Everything. And what’s worse is I bet MOST attendees don’t know who their members of the Senate or Congress are that represent them as citizens. Of it’s all fine and dandy to get hot and bothered and stamp your feet and scream and march, but if you don’t talk to your law maker you’re just killing time and wasting energy. Reality Check!

  39. says

    Sargon Bighorn and who’s fault is that. The HRC should be teahing them and whipping them up into a lobbying frenzy.

    You know the reason Barney doesn;t want us to come. The same reason he won’t be there. MONEY. He himnself is turning his back on the gay community to go and fundraise. He doesn;t want us to march because he’s afraid the money will not be given to him, the Dems, and Obama. Or the HRC who will in turn donate to them. And you know what. My money won’t be sent to them. Years of promises and donations. And in 2008 the BIG ONES and none have come to pass. I voted and gave money for shit to be done in the 2008 election. My money and my vote is not automatic. You need to GIVE ME SOMETHING SUBSTANTIAL if you want it to continue.

  40. Garry in Boston says

    There’s a reason things don’t move in Congress. It’s because we haven’t proven we can win statewide battles like in Maine. Win that one, follow it up with more wins, and that inertia in Congress will start to crumble.

    If we lose in Maine, expect to be strung along some more.

  41. allnighter says

    It’s not important how many people ACTUALLY turn out, only how many people are REPORTED to turn out – witness the 9/12 rally, where an estimated 10,000 – 20,000 people turned into “millions” thanks to the right wing blogosphere.

  42. Attmay says

    Bawney Fwank is the gay establishment. And that’s part of why the gay establishment needs to go.

    Obama and Congress are both the problem. The feet of all 535 members of the United States Congress and the President need to be held to the fire until our rights are guaranteed.

    When we get our rights, it will be because of gay people, and only gay people, fighting like warriors (not namby-pamby activists) for what is ours under the laws of the United States of America.

  43. says

    I don’t agree with disparaging the march because I think there is such a thing as a two-pronged approach. I’m not going, but I’m not hoping it’s a disaster and calling it futile. But I think his NRA example is very savvy. Imagine if we had the weight of influence of the NRA??? That, I guess, is what HRC has been attempting to do. But I feel HRC is too often off the mark and needs more fangs. Maybe a march will encourage that.

    It would be silly to turn on Barney, though. He’s on our side.

  44. indypol says

    Barney Frank has been bought and paid for. He’s a company man now, the reigning queen of Obama, Inc. When Frank secured his committee chair position, he went into another closet.

    Slam the door behind him and march.

  45. Brandon says

    If many of us feel so strongly about the march and the positive aspects it will accomplish, why is there so much negativity surrounding those who don’t? Any time there is a desire to improve any situation, focusing on those who disagree is a misuse of energy that is better used on your cause. If Barney Frank doesn’t show and this march is important to you, shout, march, and protest harder. The issue isn’t whether or not “the establishment” will be there. It’s about making the cause heard and vetted by the people.

  46. David says

    I agree with Barney Frank. Although I do not agree with or support the NRA, it has been surprisingly effective in getting its self-serving legislation passed. Any other group would be smart to at least look at how they lobby for their ridiculous causes. With regard to the “pressure” on President Obama, he is saying that Obama does not need to be pressured on the subject because he already agrees with us.

    Marching is fine, but ultimately, Frank is suggesting we more wisely invest our dollars and effort into organizing and lobbying…unfortunately, it’s the way things are done in Washington.

  47. Kelly in Atantic City says

    The congressman from MA is really starting to piss me off. He should not discourage anyone from pressuring the president on gay rights. The president himself said that we should continue to keep the pressure on!

  48. silverkjk says

    It is difficult for me to read Frank’s comments without thinking of his statement a few weeks back that he wants to be appointed to Obama’s Cabinet. Obviously, in order for that to happen, he has to have shown Obama that he is a “good soldier” and that he will support Obama over the interest of his own community. It is in that context that I read his statement that Obama “does not need pressure”, despite Obama’s own statements that he does.

  49. says

    “Young Gay Americans don’t vote, but they sure as shit like a big party! . . . And what’s worse is I bet MOST attendees don’t know who their members of the Senate or Congress are that represent them as citizens.”

    Oh, the assumptions, Sargon. I’m not particularly young, I do vote, I’m not going to DC for the party, and I know my VT reps quite well (and they’re all equality supporters). I doubt I’m atypical aside from the VT part.

    Maybe the march won’t be effective, maybe it will, but what definitely isn’t effective are the presumptions made about those who are trying–in various ways–to make a difference. I admire Barney and his outspokenness, but I don’t think many are kidding themselves or patting themselves on the back for one weekend of activism–it’s part of the process and one way to push but hardly the only thing we can and are doing to keep the pressure on Obama and Congress.

    The real waste of energy is constant naysaying.

  50. Jeff In Boston says

    @ Wolfie ” And I actually lived in Boston during the whole Gay Marriage episode it could have just as easily gone the other way if it wasn;t for DiMassi stalling and then ;eaning om the Legislature for so long.”

    Yes, Wolfie, because before Sal DiMasi, NOTHING happened here in the last 35 years leading up to that point, did it?

  51. Z says

    I just sent “No on 1 – Protect Maine Equality” a donation for an amount equivalent to what I would have spent on a plane ticket and hotel. I urge everyone to do the same. Here’s a thought: what if, instead of cancelling one performance, the producers of “Hair” had donated the proceeds from one performance (over $100K I believe) to No on 1? Which do people think would have done more good for our movement?

  52. QL Dallas says

    We are expecting 500,000 Marchers. No thanks to Barney. 1 million gays live within a 2 hour drive – many of them are coming. Obama needs to be embarrassed into keeping his promises. This is one very big embarrassment for him.

  53. 24play says

    Oh, QL. So delusional.

    500,000 expected? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    March organizers only ordered enough porta-potties for 50,00 to 150,000. And I’d say that was hugely optimistic of them.

  54. Michele says

    I’m showing up – and I’m a straight suburban breeder. Freedom isn’t free – and I am down to the marrow bone weary of waiting for civil rights for my friends & family.

  55. javier says

    Meanwhile, critical votes in Maine and Washington are about to occur, and where is the grassroots, nationwide devotion to these referenda amongst progressives and gays? How many everyday gay people have given money to the Maine and Washington causes? How many people have volunteered to retain the equality laws in those states? Why isn’t the gay community in SOS Galvanization mode before these votes, instead of getting angry that we lost yet another popular vote AFTER the vote?

  56. Jeff In Boston says

    “Freedom isn’t free”

    Oh, jeez. Have you copyrighted that one?

    No, it isn’t free, but it also is not going to change if we waste our time, talent and money on meaningless shows of (semi) force that haven’t even done any good when we filled with bodies the space between the U.S. Capitol and Washington Monument. Which sure as hell ain’t going to happen this time.

  57. says

    On this past Thursday we from Nevada took Cleve Jones, Lt. Dan Choi, Robin McGehee and several other leaders of the National Equality March and sat and had a great talk with Harry Reid for almost an hour in his private office.

    Barney, don’t tell me that nobody even knows we’re there. Nobody will know where you are after the next election.

  58. Juan says

    I’m going to have to agree with Rep. Frank. How many of those that are marching will give equal time and money to ensure our elected leaders represent us.