No longer a member of Congress, Barney Frank is still weighing in with his well-known blunt positions, but "relaxing" while doing so. Responding to Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) last week becoming the third GOP senator to support marriage equality, the recently-retired Massacusetts Democratic congressman dismissed any notion that it represented GOP progress on the issue. In the process Frank also slammed Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who came out for marriage equality three months ago while noting that his son is gay, saying Portman’s evolution doesn’t “count” or get him “a lot of points.” And, in an opinion that will surely anger some LGBT activists, Frank urged President Obama not to sign an executive order barring anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors, switching his position of last year in which he urged the president to sign the order.
“Forty-two to 3? No, not yet,” Frank responded in an interview on my SiriusXM radio program when asked if Murkowski’s evolution showed the GOP moving on the issue. “And I don’t count Rob Portman -- I mean, being nice to your son, you don’t get a lot of points. There are only two Republicans in the House who support marriage [equality]. It’s sadly still a very partisan issue.” (Listen to the full interview below)
Frank spoke while walking the exhibition hall June 21 at Netroots Nation, the annual progressive activist convention, this year held in San Jose. He described the experience of being at the conference for the first time not as a politician as “very relaxing."
“I don’t have to be monitoring my phone calls to see if there’s a crisis in the district I represented,” he said. “I can be focused on the event. I don’t have to be worried about being called by some federal official about a bank crisis or some other things.”
Regarding the executive order which LGBT activists have been pressuring President Obama to sign which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity among federal contractors, Frank appeared to have flipped on his position, having signed a letter in April of last year from members of the House urging the president to sign the order.
“I would have him not sign it yet,” Frank said. “There’s a lot of attack on him for exceeding executive power and doing things by executive order. And he’s in a major fight over that about to come now, where he’s about to issue an executive order restricting emissions from power plants. And there’s even a danger that this right-wing [Supreme] Court would overturn that as too far. I would say this: push to take back the House from the right-wing, and if that happens, then we should push for it to be legislated, because if it’s legislated, then it’s for everybody. If we don’t take the House back, then before he goes out of office, he should do it. But I would ask him to -- I would want him to hold off now and give us a chance to do this legislatively. But that will depend on the next election.”Listen to the full interview here: