By Ben Adler
Charlotte, N.C. — In a speech to the LGBT Caucus meeting at the Democratic National Convention Thursday afternoon, Rep. Barney Frank lambasted Republicans who oppose gay rights as “bigots,” and compared the Log Cabin Republicans to Uncle Tom.
Frank, who retires at the end of the year, said gay Republicans are too eager to accept even the slightest sign of moderation in their party. When Mitt Romney chose Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, the Log Cabin Republicans applauded, praising the Wisconsin law, maker as a "fair-minded policymaker." Frank noted that Ryan only voted for a measure to ban employers from discriminating against gays after he had voted for a motion to recommit the bill, which would have killed it.
“My father would have called that ‘a guy who gives you ice in the winter,’” said Frank, meaning that he considers the vote a symbolic gesture that's not helpful.
As for the Log Cabin Republicans, the most prominent group of gay GOPers, Frank, the first openly gay member of Congress, was even more dismissive. "They’re called the Log Cabin Republicans because their role model is Uncle Tom,” he said to raucous applause, including from the few African-American audience members.
Elsewhere, Frank offered an equally hard-edged, partisan message. “Right now, until and unless we get Democratic control of all three branches [of government], we’ll make no progress,” he said.
“We’re on the verge of winning substantially,” Frank continued. “But the fact that we are winning faster than I thought possible is the opposite of a reason to slack off. A good general knows to keep pressing when the enemy is on defense.”
But Frank's famously gruff demeanor did soften at one point, when he was presented with an award for service to the gay and lesbian community.
“Emotionally, spiritually, this is one of the nicest things that’s ever happened to me,” he said.