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Barney Frank Defends Assertion That Gay Republican Role Model is 'Uncle Tom'

In a recent interview with Michelangelo Signorile at the DNC, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) caused a stir with remarks about the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans.

B_frankSaid Frank: "For 20 years now I’ve heard how the Log Cabins are going to make Republicans better, but they’ve only gotten worse. I now understand why they call themselves Log Cabin: their role model is Uncle Tom."

The remarks caused leaders at various LGBT groups like HRC and NGLTF to distance themselves from Frank and inspired a fierce response from LCR Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper which you can read HERE.

Today, Frank sent out a statement explaining and doubling down on his remarks.

Frank's statement, follows in full:

I am not surprised that members of the Log Cabin Republicans are offended by my comparing them to Uncle Tom.  They are no more offended than I am by their campaigning in the name of LGBT rights to elect the candidate and party who diametrically oppose our rights against a President who has forcefully and effectively supported our rights.
 
That is the first reason for my admittedly very harsh criticism.  This election is clearly one in which there is an extremely stark contrast between the two parties on LGBT rights.  The Democratic President and platform fully embrace all of the legal issues we are seeking to resolve in favor of equality.  The Republican candidate for President and the platform on which he runs vehemently oppose us in all cases.  On the face of this, for a group of largely LGBT people to work for our strong opponent against our greatest ally is a betrayal of any supposed commitment to our legal equality.
 
But my use of “Uncle Tom” was based not simply on this awful fact that they have chosen to be actively on the wrong side of an election that will have an enormous impact on our right to equality, both in fact and in the public perception of the popularity of that cause.  If the Log Cabin Republicans – or their even more outlandish cousins, the oddly-named GOProud –were honestly to acknowledge that they let their own economic interests, or their opposition to strong environmental policies, or their belief that we need to be spending far more on the military or some other reason ahead of any commitment to LGBT equality, and on that ground have decided to prefer the anti-LGBT candidate to the supportive one, I would disagree with the values expressed, but would have no complaint about their logic.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

The damaging aspect of the Log Cabin argument, to repeat the most important point, is that they may mislead people who do not share their view that tax cuts for the wealthy are more important than LGBT rights into thinking that they are somehow helping the latter by supporting Mitt Romney and his Rick Santorum platform.
 
It is a good thing for Republicans to try to influence other Republicans to be supportive of LGBT rights.  The problem is when they pretend to be successful when they haven’t been, and urge people to join them in rewarding the Republicans when they have in fact continued their anti-LGBT stance.  I have been hearing the Log Cabin Republicans proclaim for years that they were improving the view of that party towards our legal equality.  In fact, over the past 20 years, things have gotten worse, not better.  Most recently, on DOMA, when the House Republicans offered an amendment to reaffirm it, they voted 98% in favor of it, while Democrats voted more than 90% against the amendment.  And it is not surprising that they have not been successful.  Giving strong political support to people who are maintaining their anti-LGBT stance is hardly an effective strategy for getting them to change it.
 
The argument Mr. Cooper and the others in the Log Cabin Republicans have put forward in their defense is that they have succeeded in getting the Republicans to reduce the extent to which they denounce us, and, in Mr. Cooper’s phrase, the fact that Paul Ryan is “willing to engage” with gay Republicans.  That is where Uncle Tom comes to mind.  They are urging people to vote for the anti-LGBT candidate over the most supportive LGBT candidate and platform imaginable because the “antis” are calling us fewer names and are willing to talk to some of us.  It is this willingness to acquiesce in a subordinate status as long as the masters are kinder in tone, although in substance, that emulates Uncle Tom.
 
I note Mr. Cooper points to a couple of Republicans as reasons for supporting that party and helping advance its anti-LGBT crusade.  As to Representative Ryan, in addition to his “willingness to engage with them,” Mr. Cooper cites his vote for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.  In fact, Paul Ryan has an overwhelmingly anti-LGBT voting record, including opposition to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and a transgender-inclusive hate crimes bill, and support for a constitutional amendment not just to ban future same-sex marriages but to dissolve existing ones.  It is true that on one occasion he voted for ENDA, but he did so only after voting minutes before for a Republican procedural maneuver – a motion to recommit the bill – which falsely invoked the specter that passage of ENDA would compel same-sex marriage and which, if it had passed, would have killed the bill.  In other words, Paul Ryan has always voted against us, except for one occasion when he voted for us only after first trying to make the bill he theoretically supported inoperative.
 
Mr. Cooper also cites Susan Collins.  She was very good on the question of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  But the argument that supporting Susan Collins advances LGBT rights ignores the fact that Senator Collins has twice defeated Democrats who were far more supportive of our issues than she was.  And an example of that is the current referendum in the state of Maine on marriage.  We have a very good chance of winning in Maine, and winning a referendum is important both for the substantive rights of the people in Maine and for the political point that it demonstrates.  Unlike the two Democratic Representatives from Maine, Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, Susan Collins has been stubbornly silent.  That is, in a state where marriage is on the ballot, and in a year in which she is not up for reelection, Senator Collins is withholding her support from us, unlike any Democrat who would have run against her.  And remember, these are the best that the Log Cabin Republicans can cite.
 
Some have complained that in comparing the Log Cabin Republicans to Uncle Tom, I was ignoring the fact that they are nice.  I accept the fact that many of them are nice – so was Uncle Tom – but in both cases, they’ve been nice to the wrong people.

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Comments

  1. BAZINGA!
    +1000 for Barney Frank.

    I love this:
    "That is where Uncle Tom comes to mind. They are urging people to vote for the anti-LGBT candidate over the most supportive LGBT candidate and platform imaginable because the “antis” are calling us fewer names and are willing to talk to some of us. It is this willingness to acquiesce in a subordinate status as long as the masters are kinder in tone, although not in substance, that emulates Uncle Tom."

    Posted by: Strepsi | Sep 11, 2012 5:59:30 PM


  2. Bravo, Mr. Frank!

    Posted by: Daniel | Sep 11, 2012 6:08:28 PM


  3. Bravo. In a time when someone makes a statement that provokes strongly negative responses, then returns a day or so later to say the original was a "mis-statement" or "mis-spoken", Barney Frank sticks with what he said and goes farther into his reasons for saying it.

    That's refreshing.

    Posted by: gregory brown | Sep 11, 2012 6:10:11 PM


  4. Now if only people would stop refering to me as LGBT... all I hear is "colored" when people say that

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Sep 11, 2012 6:13:15 PM


  5. Barney Frank is absolutely right and another great gay role model for the gay community. I have never understood why any gay person would sign on with the Republican party. I feel the same way about Republican African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and all other minorities. To me why on earth would anyone ever support a group of people who would deny you the same equal rights that they themselves demand?

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Sep 11, 2012 6:17:54 PM


  6. as a 52yr old OUT Gay man since 1980...Im F'n TIRED of MY Life, My Very Existance being Cannon Fodder for the RightWing assholes......Brarnie Frank is ABSO-FRIGGIN-LUTELY RIGHT!

    Posted by: disgusted american | Sep 11, 2012 6:22:50 PM


  7. I think Barney was quite mild in his criticism. It's not like he said they were too stupid to know better.

    Posted by: i could go on, but I won't | Sep 11, 2012 6:25:46 PM


  8. Maybe they'll admit it, Barney, when you acknowledge that your party is the one that caused them to do so by presuming it knows best for everyone and everything.

    Perhaps if the Democrats cared about freedom (and lets be clear here, the Republicans don't care about freedom either) in ALL regards rather than just LGBT equality, then no gay would ever feel the need to leave the party.

    But the fact is that Frank also sets up straw men. It sounds really nice to say "oh you let your economic interests outweigh your interests in equality," but to paint it as something that simple is outright absurd, disingenuous, and full of fallacy. The government has been on the warpath taking freedom from the people. Does that affect my economic interests? Sure it does. But it's not ABOUT my economic interests. It's about the natural right of every person to live their life as they see fit with minimal government interference. Right now, we're headed down the path of US having the ask the government if we're allowed to do something, rather than the government having to ask US. That should be a scary thought to any liberty-loving individual. And we'll continue down that path if either a D or R is elected.

    Posted by: Jack | Sep 11, 2012 6:36:58 PM


  9. The Democratic party assumes they have the gay vote. The Republican party assumed they don't have the gay vote.

    Why should either one work to pander to our community?

    Posted by: Inside | Sep 11, 2012 7:01:49 PM


  10. Jack, what people who espouse the beliefs you espouse call "interference" is often referred to as "protection of civil rights" by the rest of us. If you are not interested in living in a society, then by all means, leave. I hear that Somalia, for example, has very little in the way of government interference. You can have complete enjoyment, such as it is, of your natural rights there. I, on the other hand, prefer civil rights which is what one receives from consenting to live in a functioning state. If you'd like a list of other failed states, where you can be "free", here's a link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Failed_States_Index#Political

    Also, here's a link to Expedia where you can book your flight to your chosen free/failed state (assuming it has an operating airport):
    http://www.expedia.com/

    Bon voyage!

    Posted by: RyanInWyo (formerly RyanInSacto) | Sep 11, 2012 7:02:16 PM


  11. Inside: The Republican party works to assure that it will never get the gay vote. Stop pretending they are the victims of something out of their control. For example, see the post above this one:

    Ann Romney Booked to Speak at Family Research Council's 'Values Voter Summit'

    Did the gays make her accept that invite?

    Posted by: RyanInWyo (formerly RyanInSacto) | Sep 11, 2012 7:05:40 PM


  12. Gay republicans are such hopeless self-loathing miscreants,
    Barney let them off easy. Gruesome to watch Log Cabin tools
    lick the feet of Karl Rove and others who have made a career
    out of demonizing gay people.

    When I hear the words "gay republican" that's when I reach for my
    revolver.

    Posted by: Mike in nyc | Sep 11, 2012 7:10:19 PM


  13. Gay republicans are such hopeless self-loathing miscreants,
    Barney let them off easy. Gruesome to watch Log Cabin tools
    lick the feet of Karl Rove and others who have made a career
    out of demonizing gay people.

    When I hear the words "gay republican" that's when I reach for my
    revolver.

    Posted by: Mike in nyc | Sep 11, 2012 7:10:21 PM


  14. Barney Frank is an embarrassment to us all, beginning with his public persona--a bellicose blowhard and buffoon--and continuing with the hustler boyfriend/roommate scandal(a Republican would have been driven from office for a similar adventure), but most importantly for his role in the Fannie Mae debacle. The more gay Republicans the better, the more gay men and women in all influential and powerful positions the better.

    Posted by: Patrick | Sep 11, 2012 7:14:56 PM


  15. Glad that Deomocrats are showing some backbone where they know they are right- I don't know what misinformed wonk sold them on the idea that wimpy was going to earn votes when Republicans get lauded for courage when they're lying through their teeth.

    I was also glad to hear the number of people voting "No" at the convention to add God to the party platform. Interesting that it's the supposed "free to live your life" party that demands worship of a Judeo-Christian god to the exclusion of all others

    Posted by: MaddM@ | Sep 11, 2012 7:29:26 PM


  16. I am Black and know Black history. I am an activist and strongly believe that our struggle is the New Civil Rights movement. Barney Frank is correct, LCR are nothing but a bunch of Uncle Toms. May I also add in that they are also a bunch of Kapos?

    Derek Washington
    Stonewall Democrats in Nevada

    Posted by: thevegastyleguy | Sep 11, 2012 7:34:59 PM


  17. I am Black and know Black history. I am an activist and strongly believe that our struggle is the New Civil Rights movement. Barney Frank is correct, LCR are nothing but a bunch of Uncle Toms. May I also add in that they are also a bunch of Kapos?

    Derek Washington
    Stonewall Democrats in Nevada

    Posted by: thevegastyleguy | Sep 11, 2012 7:35:01 PM


  18. "Jack, what people who espouse the beliefs you espouse call "interference" is often referred to as "protection of civil rights""

    Really? So you think the 'interferences' created through the War on Terror constitute civil rights protections?


    "If you are not interested in living in a society, then by all means, leave. I hear that Somalia, for example, has very little in the way of government interference."

    Completely disingenuous. The United States is a democracy. People are fully entitled to use democracy - a means - to pursue their desired ends.

    Incidentally, Somalia has a great deal of government interference. Only it tends to be punctuated and violent in its effect on Somalians.

    I agree with the substance of Frank's analysis of the LCR, but I also think both parties promulgate detrimental policies on American citizens, and unduly abrogate their basic rights to individual liberty.


    Posted by: Nat | Sep 11, 2012 7:37:59 PM


  19. "Jack, what people who espouse the beliefs you espouse call "interference" is often referred to as "protection of civil rights""

    Really? So you think the 'interferences' created through the War on Terror constitute civil rights protections?


    "If you are not interested in living in a society, then by all means, leave. I hear that Somalia, for example, has very little in the way of government interference."

    Completely disingenuous. The United States is a democracy. People are fully entitled to use democracy - a means - to pursue their desired ends.

    Incidentally, Somalia has a great deal of government interference. Only it tends to be punctuated and violent in its effect on Somalians.

    I agree with the substance of Frank's analysis of the LCR, but I also think both parties promulgate detrimental policies on American citizens, and unduly abrogate their basic rights to individual liberty.


    Posted by: Nat | Sep 11, 2012 7:38:01 PM


  20. I love you
    You love me
    We're best friends like friends should be
    With a great big hug and
    A kiss from me to you
    Won't you say you love me too?

    We all play on the same team.
    Friends can agree to disagree.

    Posted by: M. Scott Hernandez | Sep 11, 2012 7:52:37 PM


  21. 100% correct, Barney. Don't let up on the traitors.

    Posted by: SoLeftImRight | Sep 11, 2012 7:57:00 PM


  22. I'm with Barney. There was no need for him to explain and I am glad he didn't apologize.

    The idiot right wing gays have pushed our rights back for years. THEY are the reason we are so far behind the rest of the western world with our human rights. They hate themselves so they have done their best to ruin our lives too !

    They are HORRIBLE, STUPID & SELFISH morons. They are too stupid to be given a vote.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Sep 11, 2012 8:04:00 PM


  23. I'm with Barney. There was no need for him to explain and I am glad he didn't apologize.

    The idiot right wing gays have pushed our rights back for years. THEY are the reason we are so far behind the rest of the western world with our human rights. They hate themselves so they have done their best to ruin our lives too !

    They are HORRIBLE, STUPID & SELFISH morons. They are too stupid to be given a vote.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Sep 11, 2012 8:04:05 PM


  24. Wow the fact that any gay person would vote Republican is sickening. I'm in the 1% and like many gays would never vote for the GOP, who demonize and fight every gay rights issue/person. Is someone saying that Obama who made it possible for gays to serve in the military and now has openly called for the ability for gays to marry at the convention and Democratic platform is somehow not doing enough. It's historic and any gay person voting for Romney in this election is sub-human.

    Posted by: Chad | Sep 11, 2012 8:18:15 PM


  25. Barney Frank is a real hero. We need more Democrats like him!!!

    Posted by: Progressive Oasis | Sep 11, 2012 8:47:10 PM


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