It was just yesterday Rep. Barney Frank was slamming Barack Obama‘s Department of Justice DOMA brief that relegated same-sex couples to the land of incest and called gay marriages bad for the economy. “I think the administration made a big mistake,” the Boston Herald quoted Frank saying. “The wording they used was inappropriate. … I’ve been in touch with the White House and I’m hoping the president will make clear these were not his views.” But in a shocking about-face, Frank now says the brief’s wording was just fine.
In a just-published, shall we say, “clarification,” Frank finds himself suddenly backing the White House. Sounds like someone got a talking to on Wednesday during one of his two trips to 1600 Pennsylvania.
When I was called by a newspaper reporter for reaction to the administration’s brief defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, I made the mistake of relying on other people’s oral descriptions to me of what had been in the brief, rather than reading it first. It is a lesson to me that I should not give in to press insistence that I comment before I have had a chance fully to inform myself on the subject at hand.
Now that I have read the brief, I believe that the administration made a conscientious and largely successful effort to avoid inappropriate rhetoric. There are some cases where I wish they had been more explicit in disavowing their view that certain arguments were correct, and to make it clear that they were talking not about their own views of these issues, but rather what was appropriate in a constitutional case with a rational basis standard – which is the one that now prevails in the federal courts, although I think it should be upgraded.”
And then he adds: “I think it is unwise for liberals like myself, who were consistently critical of President Bush’s refusal to abide by the law in cases where he disagreed with it to now object when President Obama refuses to follow the Bush example. It is the President’s job to try to change the law, but it is also his obligation to uphold and defend it when it has been enacted by appropriate processes. It would not be wise, in my judgment, for those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or who sympathize with the fight for our rights, to argue for a precedent that says that executives who disagreed politically with the purpose of the law should have the option of refusing to defend it in a constitutional case.”
That’s right: The most senior openly gay elected official just defended Obama’s move because, had the president not defending DOMA, he would’ve been doing something unethical — even though plenty of legal experts have confirmed Obama was not required in the least to defend DOMA, especially in such a vile manner. Meanwhile, this is not a “political” issue; it is a civil rights issue. Would Frank’s stance be the same if, say, there were a law on the books saying gays couldn’t vote? Or blacks couldn’t marry? And Obama had defended those laws because, well, they were simply written down in the rulebook?
Frank, meanwhile, is still supporting next week’s DNC fundraiser for the gays, saying anyone who boycotts the gala harms the only party supposedly focused on gay rights. Sadly, Frank just added his name to the list of Obama apologists. The one guy we thought we could count on just branded himself a turncoat.
Speaking of those types: HRC president Joe Solmonese, joined Obama and Reps. Frank, Tammy Baldwin, and Jared Polis in the Oval Office yesterday to sign the “gay rights” memorandum. Solmonese, who just got done taking the White House to task for its dismal gay rights record, now “commend[s] President Obama and his administration for taking this beginning step to level the playing field but we look forward to working with him to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, overturn ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and guarantee the entire American workforce is free from discrimination.” Ooh, how forceful, Joe. Right back in to the establishment’s fold.