blame game

Barney Frank: Gay Inc.’s Failed Lobbying Effort Is Why Legislation Never Moves Forward

[stream provider=sound flv=x:/ 3.mp3 img=x:/ embed=true share=true width=350 height=200 dock=true controlbar=over skin=dangdang.swf bandwidth=med autostart=false /]

Saying that Rep. Barney Frank got cranky with an interviewer is no longer a Queerty-approved way of introducing a post. So how about saying Frank is pissed off at whiny gays who aren’t doing enough to lobby their lawmakers and how they need to lay off the president? Oh, that’s cliche too?

“The president is leading,” Frank insists to Michelangelo Signorile. “You don’t wait for the president to go out and lobby. The NRA doesn’t wait for the president to go out and lobby. … You think the president has a magic wand? [Waiting for the president to force a vote] is exactly why we’re going to lose.”

[stream provider=sound flv=x:/ 5.mp3 img=x:/ embed=true share=true width=350 height=200 dock=true controlbar=over skin=dangdang.swf bandwidth=med autostart=false /]

This is an angry man! Or, says Frank, “frustrated.” Funny, because so are citizens!

“The community does less lobbying than any other group … and sits around and whines because other people aren’t delivering it for us.” Which is as much an attack on Gay Inc. groups like the Human Rights Campaign than, say, commenters on this website wondering whether lawmakers’ heads are indeed irrevocably shoved up their asses. But it is, also, the truth.

So there’s that.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #barneyfrank #don'taskdon'ttell(dadt) #enda(employmentnon-discriminationact) stories and more


  • Bill Perdue

    Frank, the Clintons and Obama are four good reasons to abandon the Democrats and strike out on our own. We should encourage independent political action by our community is as an example for larger, more powerful groups who are also buried up to their necks in the quagmire and quicksand of the Democrat Party.

    Many of the more militant unions already sponsor a Labor Party but the AFL-CIO misleadership keeps it muzzled. But as the Obama administration confirms its status as a lapdog of Wall Street and busts unions and as Democrats vote down pro-labor legislation that will change. There is increasing sentiment for political independence in minority communities.

    The second reason we might want to form our own Party in some areas is to injure the Democrat Party by winning offices given the fact that the Democrat Party is our proven enemy.

    As American society continues to splinter and polarize under the impact of economic and environmental collapse, endless wars and attempts to create a racist, misogynist antiLGBT theocracy the two main political parties will also polarize and splinter with both Democrats and Republicans careening towards the right and the far right, as we’ve seen.

    Now is the time to begin to build a mass alternative to them with a leftist program of fundamental change. Abstaining from the effort to destroy the power of the Democrats and Republicans will insure our defeat.

  • Ed

    I’m sorry, but I agree with Barney to some extent. At the mere whisper of legislation which they don’t like, the right, especially Conservatives, strike immediately and blanket DC with phones calls, faxes, emails as well as ads, etc. The gay community often seems to wait until the last moment and tries to effect change when it appears things look the bleakest. How many people regularly contact their elected representatives and tell them their concerns and how they would like their reps to vote on certain issues? How many send an email or other form of contact and don’t bother to follow up? As much as I despise the Consertive Republican movement, I will say that they have a well-functioning base which goes after the issues they want to force.

  • Sam

    Yeah, Barney’s NOT talking about LGBT groups there. He’s talking about LGBT PEOPLE – including commenters on this blog – who spend plenty of time bitching about how nothing is being delivered but precious little time calling their legislators and organizing other members of the community to do the same. They’re not going to just give us our rights. We have to stand up and demand them. Over and over and over.

  • ycktr

    Ummm…Barney is right…


  • Pete

    Queerty, you are again WRONG with bashing “Queer, Inc.”. Barney Frank is not saying that HRC, Task Force, and the rest are not doing a good job, He is saying that gays and lesbians in EVERY congressional district need to do a better job at contacting their congressional representatives and senators. Come on, you guys know that this is what he meant.

  • Justin

    Um, people rarely spontaneously call/email/meet with their representatives. Organizations like the NRA call, prod, push them over and over to do that. What does HRC ask of us? Attend our fundraising dinner.

  • MickW

    Barney is right, the truth hurts sometimes.

  • RomanHans

    No, he’s not right. This is absolute bullshit.

    > The NRA doesn’t wait for the president to go out and lobby.

    No: they fork over the cold, hard cash their right-wing members give them and they BUY themselves some goddamned politicians. That’s the way it works. I don’t think one single politician truly cares what their constituents think. America is waaay beyond that. Bush II espoused the view of most politicians when half a million New Yorkers took part in a protest march, saying (paraphrasing) “I’m not going to let a few extremists sway me from what my heart says is right.”

  • wondermann

    Barney is right, nuff said

  • chango

    Reminds me of this line from Angels in America:

    Roy Cohen:

    “A homosexual is somebody who, in 15 years of trying cannot get a pissant anit-discrimination bill through the city council.”

  • ksu499

    If you ever met Gay, Inc.’s lobbyists, you’d know why we can’t get anywhere. While most successful operations employ lobbyists who have a track record, a Rolodex with the right phone numbers, nice suits and some gravitas, Gay Inc. has 20-somethings who whine a lot.

  • Steve

    Gay people have been lobbying, writing letters, making phone calls, and giving money, steadily for 40 years. The problem has always been that politicians don’t just read the letters and listen to the phone calls. They also count the letters, the calls, and the money. The numbers are the problem.

    The number of bigots greatly exceeds the number of gays, and the are at least as well organized as the gays. The bigots who call themselves “Christian” have a meeting once a week. They call it “Church”. The club has been meeting every week for a very long time, and has grown very large indeed. When the leader asks them to sign letters to their congressmen, in the lobby on the way out, they do. And then they take some home for their neighbors to sign.

    Gays just started trying to organize their own church a little over 40 years ago. Their church is very small, in comparison to the other churches. When their leader asks them to sign letters to their congressmen, the leader receives a letter the next week threatening to revoke the tax exemption, or a visit from the fire-inspector or the code-enforcement inspector, or some other kind of official harassment. Other gay organizations also have membership totals that are a small fraction of their straight counterparts.

    Because of the numbers, gays are politically powerless in every traditional sense. And, because of the numbers, that isn’t going to change any time soon. The only power we might have is to swing a percent or two of the money and votes away from the party that thinks we are part of its “base”.

  • Ryan

    Um Barnet can try to fling that crap all he wants but as we have seen with Health Care calling your Congressman does NOT ONE BIT OF GOOD. They do what THEY want. Not what you want.

  • Landon Bryce

    Barney Frank is a destructive asshole. Period. Gay rights in the United States would be much further along had he never been born.

    This is a guy who discourages gay people from protesting. This is the guy who taught Washington that gay people could not be trusted not to live with prostitutes. This is a Congressman as embroiled in anyone else in the deregulation of the financial industry and the destruction of the American economy. This is the guy whose immediate reaction to Scott Brown’s election was to try to kill health care reform by announcing it dead. This is an openly gay Congressman who had to be beaten up publicly before he was willing to insist that transgendered people be included in ENDA. This is, frankly, someone who has done nothing to advance equality for gay people and a great deal to hold it back.

  • JJ

    @RomanHans – you prove Barney’s point in your post. The fact is that lobbying combined with contributions shifts politicians. Same goes for @Ryan – healthcare isn’t passing because healthcare providers (insurance companies and hospitals) are funding the opposition. The republicans feed on greed – whoever gives them the most money and helps them get reelected, wins.

    The problem comes in when lobbying doesn’t follow the dollars. The politicians have to be reminded why they got the money for us and what will happen if they don’t support us. Then we need to start threatening some incumbents with some truly supportive candidates (er, appreciative of our $$).

    I like Obama but he only mentioned DADT in the state of the union to try and secure us as a voting block. What if the community suddenly started targeting this hubris towards another candidate for 2012?

  • AlwaysGay

    @Ed: 100% correct.

  • missanthrope

    When it goes wrong on GLBT legislation Barney will always blame the community, always had in the past I’m sure he will continue to do so in the future. Saint Barney is one of the most slimiest creatures in Congress.

  • Brian NYC

    Barney is right. We haven’t made enough calls, sent enough letters or pressed the send button enough. It’s our fault.

    Everyone knows politicians add up the number of calls, letters and emails before voting. It’s that simple. Maybe we should just take the $50 million HRC receives each year and hire some Kelly Temps to call, write and email politicians. I figured if we spent half the HRC money on that we could make 75 million calls, send 50 million letters and 1.2 billion emails. WE WOULD WIN.

    That’s the secret – hire temps.

  • missanthrope

    Sorry for the double post, but I think it well to remind people here that over a 1/3rd of the house of representatives, 2/3rd of the Senate and 5 seats on the Supreme Court are held by people who range from indifferent to outright haters of LGBT people.

    For example, when I lobby my representatives I get nowhere because one is Dean Heller (Bushite) and John Ensign (old line republican) and Harry Reid (outright useless and chickenshit). And for most people in Red States lobbying won’t do a damn bit of difference either way.

    So I don’t know why Barney thinks we can get anything with his grand lobbying schemes in Congress. You see what’s happened to DADT, the Prop 8 case will go down in the Supreme Court and ENDA won’t be passed for another ten-twenty years at this rate.

    Thanks to the Congressional “all or nothing” strategy most of us will never be equal citizens for another twenty years or so. Better to do the hard work in the states, that’s where you find victory as we’ve seen with gay marriage and anti-discrimination laws. Lobbying on the federal level, for the most part, is a waste of resources and money.

  • Brian NYC

    It’s the number of calls, letters and emails that will determine our future. How did we miss this? I’m writing software to send thousands of emails every hour. We are going to win. Who would have thought that software would have created our equality?

  • Mark

    Can we send text messages? I’m really good at that and i want equality, too.

  • Lukas P.

    We can march and protest and send letters. Essential? Yes.
    Sufficient? No.

    It’s the extended family who will get the attention. When cousin Elroy and his wife Lolita from no-name town in a flyover state make calls, when Pastor Carlos and his congregation send NON-identical stamped letters and when the CFO of a Fortune 1000 company takes the time to fax his/her Rep —THAT’s when we get noticed. When people in who appear to have no vested interest in “gay rights” start hollering, the pols start to figure out that WE aren’t the only ones who give a damn about equality.

    p.s. @Brian NYC: Wow, all I can say to you is YES.

  • Mark

    I am going to send 3,000 emails to night. I am going to create our equality.

  • James

    Barney Frank is absolutely correct. If gays spent as much time and money on political action – organizing, campaigning, door to door, anything – as they do on partying, we would have had our rights long ago. Ever been to a circuit party? 5000 people are there who spent hundred of dollars for the pleasure of being around great looking sexy people. Do they spend this kind of money on political action? No. Do you ever see any of these guys at a political rally? If you do, they’re always looking for the cute people there.

    Here in New York, it’s always the same bunch of people, year after year, who break their backs to do the political heavy lifting. They are understaffed and overworked. And gay people seem unable to put aside their differences and move forward as one unit dedicated to one cause, unlike conservative Christians, who unite and campaign alongside people they would never want to have dinner with.

    Yes, there are more bigots out there than gay people. But gays have the better argument, they’re smarter, they’re more articulate – and they much lower in numbers, simply because they don’t work at it. Andrew Sullivan, Wayne Besen, Christine Quinn, Larry Kramer and all the rest can’t do everything for us.

    Is there a gay lobbying firm with the power of the NRA? Nope. But there could be if every gay in America got behind it. I also blame closeted small town Americans, who are not out to their families and co-workers. They’re too afraid. I feel their pain, but it’s time to grow up.

  • Mike in Asheville, nee "in Brooklyn"

    @Landon Bryce:

    Landon, you missed the one that pisses me off the most: BARNEY FRANK WAS AGAINST SUPPORTING MARRIAGE-EQUALITY IN MASSACHUSETTS!!!!!

    When the Mass Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of marriage-equality, Frank moaned that “now” (or “then” in the moment) was not the right time; we hadn’t earned it yet. When it looked as though the wingnuts were near success in gaining enough votes in the Legislature to place a Constitutional Amendment to ban marriage-equality, Frank refused to use his influence among his fence-sitting fellow Democrats in the Legislature to squash the effort. Thankfully, his support and influence were unnecessary; but much harm was created as middle-of-the-roaders were left dumbfounded that the well known gay Congressman wasn’t a marriage-equity advocate.

    Frank is a fraud.

  • Mark

    There must be 5 million gays in the US. If we all sent 100 emails a day, that would total more than 1.5 trillion emails a year. We would win.

    I put all my politicians in one address book and I only have to press “send” once a day. I think we will have our equality in one year if everyone does this.

  • Mark

    @Mark: Wait, I’m sorry that would only be 182 billion emails a year.

    Does anyone know if that’s enough?

    If it needs to be 1 trillion emails we’ll have to send more every day.

  • Landon Bryce

    @Mark Maybe we should ask how many emails we have to send.

    I’ll add that question to the email I am sending!

  • Mark

    @Landon Bryce: Maybe each politician needs a different number of emails. If we find out what the biggest number is, we should use that.

    I never knew it would be this easy. We should have been doing this 20 years ago. Did we have email 20 years ago? Oh, they could have made calls and just kept hitting “redial.”

    No wonder our movement hasn’t worked. We should be using technology.

  • Markie-Mark

    @Bill Perdue: I’m with you, Bill! You are exactly correct,

  • Bill Perdue

    @Markie-Mark: Thanks, Bud.

    The jokes on us.

  • Mark

    I sent more than 1,000 emails today. I am going to check the news tomorrow and see Barney Frank change his mind. If we all send emails and make calls we will have our equality handed to us. They just need to count the emails.

  • Michael

    How about Frank not doing enough himself to lobby the President on LGBT issues. Frank, one of the most powerful congressmen, had an opportunity to influence the President on the health care bill just signed and he squandered it. There was a provision in the House version of the bill to provide Tax Equality so that gay and lesbian don’t have to pay taxes on their domestic partners healh benefits and this provision did not make it to hthe final health care bill.

    See for yourself. This was printed on the first page of the New York Times on Sunday March 21:
    “On Jan. 21, Representative Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat and a powerful committee chairman, headed to the White House for a banking industry announcement. He had been openly skeptical about the prospects for the health measure. Mr. Obama pulled him aside. “He said, ‘I have to talk to you,’ ” the congressman recalled. “He was very passionate about it, and he convinced me that we could put some fixes in.”

    Why didn’t Frank right there say Mr. President, I’ll support you but I need you to put these LGBT Tax Equality fixes in too, that were passed in the House version of the bill but not in the Senate’s.

Comments are closed.