Barney Frank chastises conservative reporter on ‘don’t ask’ repeal

By David Edwards
Thursday, December 23, 2010 9:34 EDT
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Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) turned the tables on a conservative reporter asking the scariest question he could think of now that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is repealed.

In an interview published by CNS News Wednesday, reporter Nicholas Ballasy tried to trap Frank by asking him about the dangers of gays and straights showering together.

“I have a question for you about the working group that Secretary Gates put into effect,” Ballasy began. “They recommended that straight military personnel will have to shower with homosexuals.”

“Showering with homosexuals!” Frank gasped sarcastically.

“What do you think happens in gyms all over America?” he asked the reporter. “What do you think happens in the House of Representatives. Of course people shower with homosexuals. What a silly issue. What do you think goes wrong when people shower with homosexuals? Do you think the spray makes it catching?”

“I mean, people shower with homosexuals in college dormitories, in gyms where people play sports, in gyms elsewhere. It is a complete non issue,” Frank added.

“So, that recommendation, you think is a non-issue?” Ballasy pressed.

“To accept the principle that homosexuals can’t shower with other people is a degree of discrimination that goes far beyond ['don't ask, don't tell']. We don’t get ourselves dry cleaned. We tend to take showers when we go to the gym, when we play sports. The notion that there’s somehow anything new, in the first place, about showering with homosexuals — remember under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ by the way, the policy was that you would be showering with homosexuals, you just weren’t supposed to know which was which so there was no change in that. The notion that knowing someone is gay or lesbian as opposed to knowing there are gay and lesbian people there but you don’t know who they are, that that somehow makes a difference is pretty silly,” Frank said.

Ballasy wasn’t giving up his line of questioning. “And do you think if that is the case and they are — they must shower with each other, what do you think about female military personnel and male personnel, should they be able to?” he asked.

“Shower together? No. That would disrupt people,” Frank replied.

Then the Massachusetts congressman turned things around on the young reporter.

“Do you think that gyms should have separate showers for gay and straight people? I’m asking you the question because that’s the logic of what you’re telling me. You seem to think there’s something extraordinary about gay men showering together. Do you think that gyms should have separate showers for gay and straight people?” he asked.

“I’m just quoting the recommendation. I’m just quoting the recommendation,” Ballasy said defensively.

“Don’t be disingenuous. You’re quoting those that you think may cause some problems. You’re entitled to do that. But you shouldn’t hide behind your views. Rather talk about the difficulties. And I’m asking you, in response to that, do you think that there ought to be separate showers in gyms,” Frank said.

“If people don’t want to shower with gay people then they better not play sports, they better not belong to gyms, they better not go to colleges where not everybody has their own bathroom,” the congressman concluded.

While CNS News posted the entire interview, they spun their headline so Ballasey seemed to get the best of Frank. “Barney Frank: Straight Soldiers Must Shower With Gays, But Not Women With Men,” was their take.

Gawker saw it another way. “It really is amazing to watch the fearless and witty Frank completely dismantle an opponent,” they wrote. “The only thing that’s missing is him snapping his fingers and saying, ‘You got served!’”

This video is from CNS News, broadcast Dec. 22, 2010.

Watch this video on iPhone/iPad

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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