Openly gay Massachusetts Representative
Barney Frank has come out swinging at supporters of the military's
“don't ask, don't tell” policy that bans open gay service.
On Friday, Frank appeared on the
Signorile radio talk show to discuss the issue.
The policy has come under close
scrutiny since President Obama called for an end to the law during
his first State of the Union address. On Tuesday, the Pentagon's top
brass – Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates – told a key Senate panel
considering the issue that the military should end the policy. The
testimony – in particular Mullen's support – has stirred new
debates on the issue.
Frank took offense at Gates'
announcement that the military would conduct a year-long study on how
best to implement repeal should Congress repeal the law.
“These include potential revisions to
policies on benefits, base housing, fraternization and misconduct,
separations and discharges, and many others,” Gates said in his
“I was actually troubled by some of
Gates' approach,” Frank said in the radio interview. “I have no
idea what he plans to study when he talked about housing.”
Frank and other lawmakers, including
Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, are
backing a plan that calls for including repeal legislation in the
military's annual reauthorization in the fall.
“As quickly as we can do this, it
will be toward the end of the year. So Gates has plenty of time to
study whatever the hell he wants to study,” Frank added.
Opponents of the policy have sounded
“You're a gay service member today
taking a shower, and when the law will change, you'll be a gay
service member taking a shower tomorrow,” Aaron Tax, legal director
of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a gay group that lobbies
for repeal, told National Public Radio. “We're not incorporating a
new element here. Gay people have been serving the military since
the beginning of time.”
Frank also took aim at Arizona Senator
John McCain, who appears to be taking the helm for Republicans
opposed to repeal.
McCain, a ranking member of the Senate
committee, declared himself “deeply disappointed” in Gates'
“At this moment of immense hardship
for our armed services, we should not be seeking to overturn the
'don't ask,don't tell' policy,” McCain said.
“And that John McCain … I think the
last vestiges that John McCain is an independent guy ready to resist
the right wing should be buried,” Frank said referring to McCain's
2008 presidential campaign that touted his maverick credentials.
In a separate statement released by the
representative's office, Frank disagreed with repeal opponents who
say the timing is wrong.
“The argument that we should not
repeal 'don't ask, don't tell' because we are in the midst of two
wars is badly flawed. Ironically, the religious fundamentalist
terrorists we are fighting generally agree with the defenders of this
discriminatory policy in their opposition to the principle that gay
men and lesbians should be treated fairly.”
And Frank thanked Mullen for his
“As a gay man, I want to pay
particular tribute to the decency, integrity, and courage of Admiral
Mullen, who so clearly stated his opposition to a policy that has
been deeply unfair to many men and women with whom he himself has
served. I regret that Republican Members of the Committee saw fit to
use this example of Admiral Mullen’s courage as a basis for unfair