As we prepare for Rep. Barney Frank to leave Congress (he is still No. 21 on Out's Power List), we've wondered what his next step will be--other than marrying his longtime partner James Ready in July. Although he's implied that he's going to retire to a pastoral life of teaching in academia, we doubt that. And think we saw a glimpse of what is to come on the recent episode of Hardball when he faced off against Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.
Seems Chris Matthews got quite a bit more debate than Perkins usually allows on the show when Frank announced: "The notion that Dick and Lynne Cheney parented in an inferior way to Mr. Perkins is just one more absurdity." Noting that the couple have a daughter who is a lesbian, Frank continued: "No, I don't think the Cheneys' failures in some way to teach their daughter how to interact properly led to her being a lesbian. I know of no such evidence."
Frank pointed out that it seemed Perkins was ignoring claims he'd just made: that it's the job of parents to "protect" their children from turning gay and from the "environmental factors" he claims exist that cause homosexuality.
Hardball host Chris Matthews then asked: "Are you saying that if you were Barney's father he wouldn't be gay?" When he didn't get an answer, Matthews followed up with: "What do you do to make sure that you would doubt that your kid would be gay? That is an enormous power you have."
For his part, Perkins attributed his power to biblical teaching. When Perkins claimed the purpose of marriage is to have children, Matthews countered with: "A marriage is not just spawning."
As Lucas Grindley reports at The Advocate: Matthews has been confronted several times recently at book signings by activists who want Perkins kept off air. He is often called upon as a guest to represent the views of evangelicals in politics, which they say adds credibility to his antigay views, which especially troubles them because the Family Research Council is listed as an antigay "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Do we see a future as a TV host for Frank? Yes, indeed. That's exactly what we're predicting coule be in the cards for him rather than staying in the classroom.