CNBC News Transcripts July 15, 2004 Thursday
SHOW: Capital Report (7:00 PM ET) - CNBC
July 15, 2004 Thursday
HEADLINE: Congressman Barney Frank and director Bart Everly discuss gay marriage in politics and the film "Let's Get Frank"
ANCHORS: ALAN MURRAY
ALAN MURRAY, co-host:
Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts announced that he was gay back in 1987. He joins us now on CAPITAL REPORT to react to this outing controversy on Capitol Hill and also to discuss a new behind-the-scenes film about the congressman called "Let's Get Frank." We're also joined by Bart Everly, who is the director of that film.
Thank you both for being with me. And, Congressman, we're going to get to the film in just a minute. But I want to talk to you about this outing story, which is getting a lot of attention here in the capital. Is it a good idea to be outing Republican staffers who are gay?
Representative BARNEY FRANK (Democrat, Massachusetts): On a case-by-case basis, I support some outing, not just of Republicans, by the way, because while the Democratic Party has been much more supportive of fair treatment for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people than the Republicans, that's no uniformly the case. Here's the principle, and it really is something deeper here than just kind of gossip.
John Locke was the philosopher who really set forward all the principles that, in the 17th century, found their way into our Constitution. And what he said was, 'It's very important in a democratic society that the people who make the rules be subject to the rules they make.' When you have a situation in which people can make rules for other people and not be bound by them themselves, then you're likely to get unfair rules. And to the extent that there are gay people who participate in the formulation of anti-gay policies and lead to difficulties for gay people and then themselves kind of exempt themselves from that by some kind of slight of hand, then I think it's legitimate to make public who they are.
MURRAY: But, Congressman, isn't it perfectly possible for someone to be gay and to think that gay marriage is a bad idea or a bad norm for society?
Rep. FRANK: It's theoretically possible. It's highly unlikely. There's a certain amount of self-hate there, but it's not just that. Would they also think that people should be fired because they're gay, that we should have hate crime statutes so that if you beat up someone who is...
MURRAY: That's not what the debate this week is about. It was about...
Rep. FRANK: No, it should be, so please stop interrupting. I am not talking only about today. That may be your time horizon. It's not mine. You asked me a question, not about what's happening today but in general. In the case of Senator Inhofe, he has a very, very strong gay agenda. As he said-I'm listening to your program. He said he wouldn't hire any gay people because it might-openly gay people if there might be a conflict in the agenda. The agenda isn't simply marriage. He's talking about any job discrimination. Now I said it's a case-by-case situation.
MURRAY: In the case of the federal marriage amendment, do you think it's a good idea to be outing Republican staffers?
Rep. FRANK: If someone was otherwise supportive of gay rights and it was only the marriage amendment, no. But that's not the case that I've seen so far. We're talking about people who have a consistent position that says gay and lesbian people should be second-class citizens, they could be fired, they could be assaulted without there being a special protection as there is elsewhere. In those cases, I do...
Rep. FRANK: ...think it is hypocritical to live a lifestyle and then penalize others for it.
MURRAY: Well, let's get to your movie, bring in Bart Everly here. Tell us why you made this movie.
Mr. BART EVERLY (Director, "Let's Get Frank"): Well, I thought it was a great opportunity. Hopefully, the impeachment hearings don't come around too often, so when Barney asked me to do it, I jumped at the chance.
MURRAY: All right. Well, Congressman, let's take a look at a clip from the movie, which looks at how it explores the conflicts that come up between your professional life and your personal life, particularly during impeachment. Take a look.
(Excerpt from "Let's Get Frank")
MURRAY: Pretty personal stuff, Congressman. Tell us why you agreed to do the movie.
Rep. FRANK: Because I think, frankly, this impeachment was very, very important. I thought so at the time. Bart and I discussed doing this really just about six years ago, in August of '98. And I thought this was going to be a very important historical moment. And to be honest, I was also struck myself. I was a great fan of something called "Point Of Order," which was a series of what I think were called kinescopes then in the early days of television of the Army-McCarthy hearings. And I always thought that was a not only extremely interesting thing, but one where people learned a lot.
Rep. FRANK: You may remember when Joe Welch said to McCarthy, 'Have you no shame at long last or no sense of decency?' I really thought this was an important chance for people to see what really happens. I mean, I think you people in the media do the best possible job you can within a limited time frame, but I thought a longer sequence of this would be very useful for people to literally see how this was working.
MURRAY: Bart Everly, you had the benefit of having a very funny subject for your film. You caught some pretty good lines there, didn't you?
Mr. EVERLY: Yeah. I mean, he's great. And I think the one thing about the film is that it's entertaining. And I wanted kids to see it. Again, like Barney said, I think it's very important that people see this. And you have to entertain people, so hopefully, you know, that's what I did. And Barney's a great spokesperson and entertainer, I think. So...
MURRAY: All right. Thank you very much, Bart Everly, director of the new film, "Let's Get Frank," and Democratic Congressman Barney Frank, the subject of that film. Thank you both for being with us.
Mr. EVERLY: Thank you.
Rep. FRANK: Thank you.
GLORIA BORGER (Co-host): And coming up, Howard Dean's presidential bid looked unstoppable until voters went to the polls. Former campaign manager Joe Trippi on how the Dean machine changed politics. That's next.
MURRAY: And Chicago Bears legend Mike Ditka decides to sit on the sidelines during this year's election. We're all disappointment. We'll explain later.