After being subjected to anti-gay
slurs, Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank has called a
weekend Tea Party protest “mass hysteria.”
Protesters swarmed the Capitol on
Saturday to launch an 11th hour campaign against a health
care reform bill narrowly approved by House lawmakers on Sunday.
Representative Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, and actor
Jon Voight, addressed the crowd at a morning rally before members
proceeded on their own to lobby lawmakers.
Both on Saturday and Sunday, Frank, who
is openly gay, was taunted by protesters.
During one incident, reported by
Points Memo, a protester yelled “Barney, you faggot” as the
69-year-old lawmaker rounded a corner to leave the Longworth House
Office Building. A surrounding crowd erupted in laughter.
Frank also confirmed reports that other
protesters shouted “homo communist” at him and another told him
to “go homo to Massachusetts.”
“I'm disappointed at an unwillingness
to be just civil,” Frank told TPM.
“Obviously there are perfectly
reasonable people that are against this, but the people out there
today on the whole – many of them were hateful and abusive.”
Frank added, “Michele Bachmann's
rhetoric is inflammatory as well as wholly baseless.”
“If this was my cause, and I saw this
angry group yelling and shouting and being so abusive to people, I
would ask them to please stop it. I think they do more harm than
Other sources reported that
African-American Democratic lawmakers were also insulted.
Representatives Andre Carson from
Indiana and John Lewis from Georgia told The
Hill that they were subjected to racial epithets from protesters
as they walked outside the Capitol.
“I've heard this before in the 60's,”
Lewis, considered a leader of the civil rights movement, said. “A
lot of this is just downright hate.”
While several Republican leaders,
including party boss Michael Steele, denounced the racial and
anti-gay slurs, others justified the protester's actions.
“When you use totalitarian tactics,
people, you know, begin to act crazy,” Representative Devin Nunes,
a California Republican, said on CSPAN. “I think that people have
every right to say what they want. If they want to smear someone,
they can do it.”