Barney Frank: Congress Has Closeted Gay Members

Former Massachusetts representative says those with anti-gay voting records lose the right to privacy

Former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank says it’s okay for gay members of Congress to remain in the closet, with one big exception.
Former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank says it’s okay for gay members of Congress to remain in the closet, with one big exception. –The Boston Globe/Louie Palu

Former Rep. Barney Frank says there remain closeted gay members of Congress and that they should not be outed, unless they oppose gay rights.

Frank said in an interview with CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that a closeted member of Congress deserves privacy “as long as he or she is supportive of legal protections.’’

Frank himself came out in a 1987 Boston Globe interview. Asked if he was gay, Frank replied, “Yeah. So what.’’

“The issue where they lose me is hypocrisy,’’said the former Democratic representative from Massachusetts’ 4th district. “What I think is unacceptable is to vote a certain set of rules as an elected official and then to violate them yourself.’’


“But if you are a Democrat, Republican, whatever, and you vote to allow people to do what you do, than I have no demand that you become public,’’ he said.

In a separate interview Friday, Frank also commented on speculation that Rep. Aaron Schock, who recently announced he will resign, is gay. Gawker and other outlets have joked about Schock’s sexuality. Frank told ABC News if Schock is indeed gay, he has no right to keep it secret because of Republican’s anti-gay voting record.

“Anyone who is gay and votes in an anti-gay fashion has, it seems to me, lost their right to privacy, because it’s been converted to a right to hypocrisy,’’ said Frank. Schock, 33, has denied that he is gay.

This isn’t the first time Frank has challenged other member of Congress on what he sees as hypocrisy.

In 2007, Frank criticized Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, after the Republican was arrested for lewd conduct in a men’s public restroom at a Minnesota airport. Craig later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct.

“This is the hypocrisy — it’s to deny legal equality to gay people, but then to engage in gay behavior,’’ Frank said, even though he did not think Craig should resign.


Craig had a history of voting against gay rights and, as a member of the House Ethics Committee, unsuccessfully led efforts to censure Frank in 1990 for using his office to improperly help a male prostitute.

Frank retired in 2012 after 16 terms in the House. He has given several interviews lately to promote his new autobiography, which is aptly titled “Frank.’’

Asked on CNN on Sunday if members of Congress thought he was gay before he came out, Frank said he did not think so.

“I did not conform to the gay stereotype,’’ he said. “Let’s be honest, I was much too badly dressed.’’

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