Rep. Barkey Frank (D-MA) gave a very candid interview on the Michelangelo Signorile radio show as he prepares to retire from Congress after 16 terms, reported the Huffington Post.
The openly gay congressman reflected on marijuana legalization, Justice Antonin Scalia, same-sex marriage, and prostitution.
On recent ballot initiatives that legalized the possession of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, Frank said he was “very happy to see that.” Frank himself has sponsored legislation allowing medical marijuana and removing penalties for possessing the drug.
On the issue of gay and lesbian rights, Frank recalled that in 1980, when he was a state legislator in Massachusetts, he almost came out of he closet. But he postponed the decision when he had the opportunity to run for a seat in the U.S. House, as he knew his chances would be obliterated were he to come out publicly. He finally did so in 1987 after U.S. Rep. Stewart McKinney (R-CT), a closet bisexual who had AIDS, died. “He was a wonderful congressman,” Frank said.
Later, after recounting a controversy over an attempt by a male prostitute to blackmail him, he said, “I always have thought prostitution should be legal” and said that ultimately women were “worse off” without legalized prostitution.
Frank also believes that those who vote against gay and lesbian rights but who are in the closet deserve to be outed, explaining, “Yes, I believe the policy should be that people have a right to privacy but not to hypocrisy.”
Frank discussed recent comments made by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia when asked by a Princeton student about his writing on same-sex marriage and gay and lesbian issues. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?” Scalia told the student.
“I was glad that he made clear what’s been obvious, that he’s just a flat out bigot,” said Frank, going on to call the explanation “quite stupid.”
He’s also optimistic about the future of gay and lesbian rights and same-sex marriage, arguing that if it is not found unconstitutional, the Defense of Marriage Act will be repealed the next time the President, House, and Senate are controlled by Democrats. He also believes the country will soon protect transgender individuals from employment discrimination.
[Image: Courtesy U.S. House of Representatives]