Chris Matthews and Rep. Barney Frank clashed over the Democratic party's stance on gay marriage on Wednesday, when the MSNBC host pressed Frank on whether the party's platform would support a federal law legalizing gay marriage.
The drafting committee has said that it will include same-sex marriage in the party platform. Matthews wondered if it would support leaving the issue up to the states or creating a federal law to allow same-sex marriage.
He asked Frank, a member of the committee, if the Democratic party's platform would support such a law.
"I literally don't understand what that means," Frank answered. "There is a fundamental confusion here. There has never been a practical law saying that's what marriage is."
He say that Democrats' stance on gay marriage was already clear, especially in the recent vote on the Defense of Marriage Act. Frank went on to argue that even after the Civil Rights Act, there was never a federal law passed to allow interracial marriage.
"There are other precedents," Matthews argued. He said that the Civil Rights Act was a federal law that mandated access to public accommodations.
"It says nothing about marriage, Christopher!" Frank shouted. "You are wrong, you are wrong, Christopher!"
"I'm wrong about what?" Matthews asked. He said that Frank had said that there was no precedent for the federal government declaring something a right.
"No, Chris, please, don't distort what i said," Frank said. "I said there is no precedent for a law defining marriage."
Later, Frank took issue with Matthews' focus on the party platform. He said that he was "baffled by the media," because President Obama and Democratic lawmakers have already made their support for gay marriage clear.
Matthews said it would be the first time a political party officially came out in favor of same-sex marriage.