WASHINGTON -- Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) says he's not surprised that Log Cabin Republicans were offended when he compared them to Uncle Tom last week. But, oh well, he's not taking it back.
In a more than 1,000-word tirade, Frank on Tuesday spelled out exactly why he thinks Log Cabin Republicans, a group that represents gay and lesbian Republicans, are the worst of kind of traitor to the LGBT community.
"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," said Frank, who is one of four openly gay members of Congress.
The longtime Massachusetts Democrat, who is retiring this year, said he knows it's "very harsh" to compare the group to Uncle Tom, a derogatory term for someone who participates in oppressing their own people. But when it comes to members of the LGBT community actively supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Frank said their betrayal doesn't just lie in backing the wrong candidate but in misleading others into thinking the LGBT community would be better off under Romney.
"I have been hearing the Log Cabin Republicans proclaim for years that they were improving the view of that party towards our legal equality," said Frank, adding that things have only gotten worse. "Most recently, on [the Defense of Marriage Act], when the House Republicans offered an amendment to reaffirm it, they voted 98 percent in favor of it, while Democrats voted more than 90 percent against the amendment."
Frank took direct aim at Log Cabin Republicans executive director R. Clarke Cooper, who last week dismissed Frank as "a partisan hack" after his Uncle Tom comments. Cooper made the case that Log Cabin Republicans have been successful over the years in reducing the extent to which Republicans like GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan denounce the LGBT community. But Frank said the fact that the group supports people like Ryan, who "are calling us fewer names and are willing to talk to some of us," is precisely why the Uncle Tom term comes to mind.
"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," he said.
The Democratic lawmaker went on to list all the anti-LGBT votes Ryan has taken in the House, and responded to Log Cabin Republicans who complained that he was "ignoring the fact that they are nice." He said he wasn't ignoring that part at all.
"I accept the fact that many of them are nice. So was Uncle Tom," Frank said. "But in both cases, they’ve been nice to the wrong people."
Cooper called it "sad but unsurprising" that Frank would criticize Log Cabin Republicans for not making progress.
"Frank, of all people, should understand the importance of perseverance when working within a party to achieve change," Cooper said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "After all, it was not so long ago his party was indifferent at best when it came to respecting gay families."
He also signaled he's ready for Frank to leave Congress.
"It is time for him to pass on the baton to leaders better suited to a world where equality is not a partisan issue," Cooper said.
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