We deserve better than Barney Frank

by Isaiah Webster III

I have used this blog previously to both criticize and defend Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). On the one hand, Congressman Frank is a gay hero; he was the first to serve openly in Congress and he is a pioneer in so many other ways for our community. On the other hand, at times he can be a bitter old queen, content with the status quo and hell bent on having things go only his way.

Rep. Frank is not supporting this weekend’s National Equality March. Yesterday he went so far as to call the march “useless.” To add injury to that insult, Frank said he will spend this weekend in California fundraising while we are marching for equality on the National Mall.

To be fair, there has been a considerable amount of back and forth as to whether this march will have any effect on policy. From the very beginning some activists have said that we should lobby our local officials as opposed to marching in Washington while the Congress will be out of town. A reasonable person could argue that the march, in and of itself, is not enough to bring about change. But to call the march “useless,” is short-sighted and it’s beneath someone with the stature of Barney Frank. If you can’t be supportive of the march, then just shut up! There is no need to publicly speak ill of it.

The Obama administration and this Congress is moving too slowly on our priorities. As of this blog entry, there is still no ENDA. No repeal of DOMA. No repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” No hate crimes protection. No marriage equality.

And it was Barney Frank himself, with the help of HRC, who tried to exclude transgender people from the 2007 effort to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Fortunately, that effort failed.

It is never useless for Americans to petition their government for a redress of grievances. In fact, there is nothing more American than that. It is not useless for human beings to demand to be treated with dignity and equal rights!

Barney Frank should be ashamed of himself.

While it’s never useless for people to fight to be free, it’s entirely useless to have leaders who lack vision. It’s entirely useless to have an openly gay Congressman stomping on the spirit of activists who don’t have the privilege or luxury to spend a weekend leisurely fundraising in California! And most of all, it’s absolutely useless to have a Democratic president and Democratic Congress pay us nothing but lip-service instead of delivering change.

Though Barney Frank isn’t useless, he is a deep disappointment. Our community deserves better from its leaders. Barney Frank may not be ashamed of himself, but I’m sure as hell ashamed of him.