Rep. Frank Calls Justice Scalia a ‘Homophobe’
The Massachusetts Democrat told a gay online news agency that he hoped the Supreme Court won’t ever get to hear a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act while Justice Scalia is on the bench.
By Lee Ross
Masscahusetts Rep. Barney Frank called Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a “homophobe” in an interview released Monday on a gay online news site, and said he hoped a challenge to a federal law widely disliked in the gay community will not be heard before the high court until new justices are seated on the bench.
Frank, who is gay, made the remark in responding to a question about legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act. The 1996 law says the federal government and states have no obligation to recognize same-sex marriages even if other states allow them.
“At some point, [the Defense of Marriage Act] is going to have to go to the United States Supreme Court,” the congressman, a Democrat, said. “I wouldn’t want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has got too many votes on this current court.”
Last month a controversial judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared the 12-year-old law unconstitutional. That’s the second time a judge from the notably liberal court has made such a ruling.
But both rulings were administrative in nature and offered no precedent, thus making it unlikely they would be appealed to the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, a judicial marker has been set that has clearly drawn the interest of the gay community.
Scalia is no stranger to personal attacks and is a favorite target for gays because of his dissent in a 2003 case that overturned the nation’s consensual sodomy laws.
In that case Scalia held the majority’s ruling represented “a massive disruption of the current social order.”
He went on to conclude that “the Texas statute undeniably seeks to further the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are immoral and unacceptable, the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality and obscenity.”
A representative for Scalia was not immediately available for comment.
Frank explains why he called Scalia a homophobe
March 25, 2009 (Boston Globe.com)
WASHINGTON – Representative Barney Frank yesterday defended his use of the term “homophobe” to describe Antonin Scalia, the conservative Supreme Court justice who has ruled in favor of limiting legal protections for gays.
“What a ‘homophobe’ means is someone who has prejudice about gay people,” Frank told WBZ radio, arguing that Scalia’s judicial writing “makes it very clear that he’s angry, frankly, about the existence of gay people.”
A Supreme Court spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from Scalia.
In particular, Frank cited Scalia’s opinion in the 2003 case in which the Supreme Court struck down state laws barring consensual acts of sodomy.
In his dissent, Scalia wrote that the 6-to-3 vote served to ratify an “agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.”
Explaining the characterization of Scalia he made in an interview with a gay news website, Frank argued that Justice Clarence Thomas, who joined Scalia’s dissent, had a “very reasonable” opposition to the ruling. “While I support same-sex marriage, I don’t think if you’re against it you’re homophobic,” Frank said on WBZ. “I don’t think Clarence Thomas is homophobic.”