CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The last caucus of LGBT delegates and guests at the Democratic National Convention was held early Thursday afternoon and comments about gay Republicans from outgoing Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank stirred controversy.
Frank, honored by the caucus for his long-standing service to the Democratic Party and to LGBT constituents, called out Republicans for their lack of LGBT support and gay Republicans for their “nonsensical” loyalty to the party.
“Gerald Ford was better on LGBT issues than any Republican president or nominee since,” Frank said. “I’m beginning to think that maybe they’re called the Log Cabin club because their role model is Uncle Tom.”
Log Cabin Republicans called Frank a “cowardly bully” in a statement this afternoon.
“Frank calls us ‘Uncle Toms’ and pretends that Log Cabin hasn’t been on the front lines of the fight for equality,” added Log Cabin Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper. “The truth is, by speaking conservative to conservative about gay rights, Log Cabin Republicans are doing some of the hardest work in the movement, work that liberals like Barney are unwilling to do and couldn’t do if they tried.”
Stonewall Democrats also responded, calling Frank a “distinguished and honorable public servant.
“He has faced nearly 40 years of unspeakable hatred and persecution for being the most prominent and outspoken openly gay elected official in the country,” Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis said in a release. “The true bullies are the hate-mongers in the GOP who want to strip us of our rights and shove us back into the closet. And ‘cowardly’? Cowardly is making pathetic excuses for the backward and misguided anti-LGBT policies of your Party. The Log Cabin Republicans are the most weak-kneed, sycophantic apologists I’ve ever encountered. After their dismal performance at the RNC convention driving the GOP platform even farther to the right, they should give back all the money they’ve fleeced from their donors and close the doors.”
Despite the evening controversy, the energy among LGBT delegates at the afternoon caucus was palpable, as both official convention participants and members of the public gathered to hear remarks from Frank as well as Dr. Jill Biden, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
“We’ve got to make sure that we keep moving forward on gay rights to continue the progress we’ve made,” Biden said in short remarks.
Booker, known for his outspoken support of marriage equality, was adamant his state would soon expand marriage rights for same-sex couples.
“It’s not a matter of if we’re going to win marriage in New Jersey,” he said. “It is amatter of when. I will not only be there when that bill gets signed, I might even have a very good seat.”
Booker also said it was time for Americans to recognize that “hatred is hatred” and “bigotry is bigotry.” Every person, he said, “should have equal citizenship rights.”
— James Nichols contributed to this report.