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Frank explains why he called Scalia a homophobe

March 25, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Representative Barney Frank yesterday defended his use of the term "homophobe" to describe Antonin Scalia, the conservative Supreme Court justice who has ruled in favor of limiting legal protections for gays.

"What a 'homophobe' means is someone who has prejudice about gay people," Frank told WBZ radio, arguing that Scalia's judicial writing "makes it very clear that he's angry, frankly, about the existence of gay people."

A Supreme Court spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from Scalia.

In particular, Frank cited Scalia's opinion in the 2003 case in which the Supreme Court struck down state laws barring consensual acts of sodomy.

In his dissent, Scalia wrote that the 6-to-3 vote served to ratify an "agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct."

Explaining the characterization of Scalia he made in an interview with a gay news website, Frank argued that Justice Clarence Thomas, who joined Scalia's dissent, had a "very reasonable" opposition to the ruling. "While I support same-sex marriage, I don't think if you're against it you're homophobic," Frank said on WBZ. "I don't think Clarence Thomas is homophobic."

SASHA ISSENBERG

Third choice confirmed for commerce secretary
WASHINGTON - The Senate confirmed former Washington governor Gary Locke as commerce secretary yesterday, handing President Obama an easy victory after his first two nominees for the post withdrew.

Locke, 59, the nation's first Chinese-American governor, was approved by a voice vote and has promised to focus on job creation and to closely oversee the 2010 census.

Obama nominated Locke for the Commerce post last month, after his first two nominees withdrew. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson faced questions about the awarding of state contracts and Republican Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire changed his mind about working for the Democratic president.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Obama appeals for help around world on recession
President Obama called for global cooperation to stem the recession in an op-ed piece published yesterday in 31 newspapers around the world.

"We are living through a time of global economic challenges that cannot be met by half measures or the isolated efforts of any nation," Obama wrote in advance of the G-20 economic summit next month in London.

Obama said the "United States is ready to lead," but also acknowledged the central role of the US financial crisis in causing the economic woes cascading around the world.

"I know that America bears our share of responsibility for the mess that we all face. But I also know that we need not choose between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy," he wrote.

GLOBE STAFF

Australian prime minister welcomed to White House
In the strange way that politics sometimes echoes around the globe, President Obama welcomed to the White House yesterday a comrade in arms: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Like Obama, Rudd replaced an older, more conservative leader, defeating John Howard, one of former president George W. Bush's closest allies, in a landslide.

And as in Obama's case, Rudd's opposition to the Iraq war helped define him.

After their Oval Office meeting, Rudd and Obama pledged closer cooperation in the Afghanistan war, with both saying that the country cannot become a safe haven for terrorists. "It's important to remind ourselves why we're there, and that is never to forget those who lost their lives on September 11th, never forget those who have been killed in terrorist attacks since," Rudd said.

But they sidestepped whether Australia, the largest contributor of forces outside NATO, would be asked to send more troops.

Obama, who is sending 17,000 more US troops to Afghanistan this spring, is expected to unveil a new strategic plan for the war as early as this week.

GLOBE STAFF

AND ASSOCIATED PRESS

Obama stresses green in chat with astronauts
President Obama managed to take his pitch for green energy to space yesterday, talking to orbiting astronauts about solar panels.

"We're investing back here on the ground [in] a whole array of solar and other renewable energy projects and so to find out that you're doing this up at the space station is particularly exciting," Obama said during a half-hour call with the space shuttle Discovery as it was linked with the international space station.

The president invited middle school students to take part, and when one asked the astronauts what they ate, he managed to sneak in a cultural reference to an orange-flavored drink they almost certainly had no clue about.

"You guys still drink Tang up there?" Obama asked with a laugh.

GLOBE STAFF

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