Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, the first openly gay member of Congress, retired from Capitol Hill two years ago but is still making headlines for his wry political commentary and analysis.
In an interview with Reuters, Frank predicts the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in favor of same-sex marriage in 2015. He also acknowledges his amazement at how LGBT equality has moved so quickly.
From the interview:
Q: Has the velocity of change gay rights surprised you?
A: It’s astonishing. I filed the first gay rights bill in Massachusetts history in 1972. And at any time these past 40 years, if you’d asked me to say, “Where’s it going to be three years later?” I’d have been wrong.
Q: Is that speed a function of the progressivity of the American people?
A: Absolutely. If it hadn’t been for gender equity and race, we wouldn’t have gotten started. But once we did, the reason [for progress] is simple: We’re much less different. Almost every straight person has gay and lesbian friends, relatives, etc. When we all started saying who we were, people realized it didn’t make any difference. Reality beat the prejudice.
Q: Will the U.S. Supreme Court rule on same-sex marriage?
A: Yes, next year. Of course they’ll say yes. Unless [Justice] Ruth Ginsburg dies. But then they’ll still say yes because it will be a 4-to-4 tie. Based on his prior votes [in other gay rights case], I’m sure [Justice Anthony] Kennedy is going to vote to uphold same-sex marriage.
Q: So, you predict 5-to-4?
A: Yes. Potentially 6-to-3, if [Chief Justice John] Roberts joins, but I doubt it. I was struck by what they did recently—their refusal to act. [Without comment, the Court let stand lower-court rulings that upheld a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.] There’s a perfect sports analogy. They gave same-sex marriage an intentional walk. They weren’t going to let us hit a home run, but they weren’t going to try and get us out.
Frank also discusses his support of Hillary Clinton for president in 2016—and urges others not to run against her—while also talking about the nation’s financial crisis, the dismal voter turnout in this year’s Midterm Elections, as well as taking a shot at Jon Stewart for his anti-government stances. It’s a great interview.
In October, the documentary “Compared To What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank,” screened at Atlanta’s Out on Film fest and Frank talked to the GA Voice in another great interview about politics, married life, and what’s missing from the LGBT movement.