POLITICS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Barney Frank Urges Gay Activists To Lobby Congress

Openly gay Congressman Barney Frank told the Associated Press that gay rights activists should lobby Congress rather than march in Washington, calling Sunday's National Equality March a "waste of time."

"The only thing they're going to be putting pressure on is the grass," he told the AP Friday.

Frank said the march, which attracted thousands of protesters, would probably have little impact on lawmakers because many of them were in their states or districts for the long Columbus Day weekend.

He instead urged gay activists to follow examples set by other [powerful lobbying groups such as the AARP or the NRA.

"Call or write your representative or senator, and then have your friends call and write their representatives or senator," Frank said. March organizers said they were lobbying too.

Organizers say the march is only part of a broader effort that includes the kind of lobbying Frank is urging.

"We hear Congressman Frank when he says this is about getting back into your district and doing the work there," said Kip Williams, co-director of the march. But he said the march in Washington "is about building community and building a network who will go back and do the work."

Franks comments demonstrate a striking divide in the LGBT community on how to best influence lawmakers. On Saturday, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT advocacy group, hosted a black tie gala at which President Obama promised to end the controversial Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.

The New York Times reported that HRC president Joe Solmonese wrote a letter asking supporters to take the president at his word.

"It's not January 19, 2017," he wrote, referring to what would be the last day of Mr. Obama's presidency if he were to win a second term.