Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013, September 14, 1984, Page 21, Image 21

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    by Gene Males
In 1982, Representative Barney Frank was
a freshman Democrat from the state of Mas­
sachusetts when the congressional districts
were redrawn. Forced into a tough race
against veteran Republican Margaret Heckler,
Frank initially protested the new redistricting
and was hesitant about running. He com­
mented at the time, "There are certain limits
to what you put up with in an effort here. I’m
not gonna act out a speaking role in my own
mugging." The statement was only another
example of the congressman’s quick, irre­
pressible wit In what was to be one of the
most expensive congressional races ever, he
eventually decided on more than just a
speaking part Not for the sake of his own
mugging, however. Instead, in a new district
heavily favoring the eight term Heckler, he
won the race resoundingly by capturing 60%
of the vote.
In a time when some freshmen congress­
men experience difficulty with the hometown
newspapers spelling their names correctly,
Barney Frank seemed to have little trouble in
getting the blew York Times and the Wash­
ington Post to cover his redistricting trou­
bles. An ardent supporter of social programs
and civil rights, Frank has proven he has
more than firm ideological convictions to of­
fer. He has also the intelligence and force of
personality to become a well heeled spokes­
man for his concerns. One of the few consis­
tent liberals in Congress, he has long played a
strategic role at the national level in the fight
for gay and lesbian rights.
Prior to his election to Congress, Frank sat
for eight years in the Massachusetts state
legislature. He soon impressed many as a
smart and aggressive politician. Very man­
agement oriented, he learned quickly that
you don't provide the programs you want to
provide by throwing money down the drain. A
natural politican, he became an outspoken
and unapologetic backer of liberal issues of
all kinds. He first entered national politics in
1980, winning an open congressional seat
created by a papal order barring priests from
elective politics.
The 1980 order by Pope John Paul II was
widely assumed to be targeted for Repre­
sentative Father Robert F. Drinan of the 4th
congressional district of Massachusetts. Dri­
nan had occupied his seat since 1970, initially
winning it on the basis of his opposition to the
Viet Nam War. Drinan was also an outspoken
advocate of human rights, particularly in
Central and South America, and believed
abortion was best looked upon as a political
issue. When Barney Frank decided to run for
the vacant seat Drinan and his supporters
quickly coalesced around him. Though op­
position surfaced to Frank’s candidacy, parti­
cularly from the local Catholic church, he
ultimately won the election.
Two years later Frank was up against
Margaret Heckler in the newly redrawn 4th
congressional district Seventy percent of the
constituency had been hers the previous 16
years and it was suspected that the redistrict­
ing plan had purposely favored Heckler. Ed
King, then Democratic Governor of Massa­
chusetts, was apparently afraid he'd have to
face Heckler himself in the next governor’s
race if she lost her district He went so far as to
say he’d be surprised if the new plan did not
favor Heckler, pointing out he had "... a
certain amount of say in that and I won’t let it
The new district was composed of large,
middle to upper income liberal Jewish popu­
lations, a few rich Republican strongholds
that are "pure preppyness," several old New
England towns of mixed ethnic backgrounds,
and a large group of working class suburbs
consisting of young families with children.
This last group casts over a third of the votes
and had heavily supported Heckler in the
past Barney Frank, on the other hand, had
only represented 26% of the new district
Just Out. Seotember M
Rep. Barney Frank
Representative Barney Frank, of Massa­
chusetts, will be the Keynote Speaker of the
1984 Lucille Hart Dinner, principal fund-raiser
of Oregon's Right To Privacy Political Action
Committee. The Portland Gay Men’s Choir
will open the event, to be held at the Portland
Westin-Benson, at 7:30 pm on Saturday,
September 29, 1984. Local gay rights sup­
porter and former State Representative
Gretchen Kafoury will serve as Master of
Ceremonies for the evening.
The Right to Privacy, PAC is an outgrowth
of the now defunct Portland Town Council
and currently in its third year of existence. A
large, active group of lesbians and gay men,
its goal is the well-being of the gay commun­
ity through the political process. The PAC’s
annual fund-raising dinner honors Lucille
Hart, the only Oregonian mentioned in Gay
American History. Hart was a lesbian physi­
cian who practiced in Oregon during the
early 1900s.
In the May 15 primary elections, Right to
Privacy donated almost $6,000 to Oregon
candidates. Approximately 500 supporters
are expected to attend this year’s dinner, in­
cluding over 35 elected officials, and the PAC
has targeted $16,000 from the evening for
several critical election campaigns this fall.
Tickets are still available for the occasion,
your support of which can ensure you a per­
sonal voice in your own political future. For
more information on the 1984 Lucille Hart
Dinner, call 224-4369.
Margaret Heckler’s eight terms in Congress
made her the senior woman Representative
in the nation and the White House considered
the race a “must win” for her. Though she
Gretchen Kafoury standing next to Geraldine Ferraro at the Westin-Benson
likes to style herself as a liberal, Heckler had
trouble distancing herself during the election
from the policies of the Reagan administra­
tion. Also, some of the campaign tactics she
used might have had Joe McCarthy standing
up and applauding from his grave.
Heckler ran television ads which presented
"facts" in such a way as to suggest conclu­
sions opposite from the truth. In one such ad,
Heckler suggested Frank was trying to pro­
mote prostitution and pimping everywhere.
Frank, at the request of the Boston commis­
sioner of police, had introduced a bill which
would allow communities to restrict "adult
entertainment" to specific zones (as in a simi­
lar proposal, though not entirely the same,
made here recently by Portland’s City Club).
The race, in which Heckler also attacked
Frank for his support of gay rights, soon
became one of the most bitterly fought con­
gressional races of the year.
Frank said during the campaign, “Just to
get things straight. I’m the one who did not
kiss Ronald Reagan on the night of the State
of the Union address”; he stood firmly on his
record of liberal support for human rights and
social issues. Virtually all of the women's
groups in the state, angry at Heckler s anti­
abortion stance, joined together in support of
Frank. He eventually won by a solid majority.
He faces reelection in November, but is likely
to be a representative from the 4th congres­
sional district throughout the 80s.
The son of a Bayonne, New Jersey, truck
stop owner, Barney Frank s quick wit and
rapid-fire delivery were nurtured early. Sec­
ond oldest of four, his family subscribed to
seven daily newspapers. They were read and
discussed nightly at the dinner table. Frank
grew up among average working class people
and this has always been a part of his orienta­
tion. A natural politician, he loves the give and
take, the cajoling, and the browbeating of the
legislative process.
As a cigar-chewing, heavy set 24 year old
Harvard graduate working in Mississipi dur­
ing the '60s civil rights movement, Frank
seemed every bit the traditional "pol." Known
in the past for his rumpled appearance, he
once used the campain slogan, "Neatness
isn’t everything." He has recently shed 50
pounds, however, and his appreciation of a
trimmer self is evident in a new, less dishev­
eled image.
Barney Frank has consistently been an ar­
dent supporter of lesbian and gay rights. He
has worked closely with the national lobbying
effort, always helping to organize strategy
and instrumental in getting co-sponsors on
important gay rights legislation. He is a
staunch opponent of the McDonald Amend­
ment, which specifically bars lesbians and
gay men from obtaining legal defense funds
available to other minorities through the
Legal Services Corporation.
Frank’s very popular nationally as a liberal
activist; his wit can indeed be very sharp and
to the point He has said of the New Right’s
opposition to both abortion and child-feeding
programs, "Sure, they’re pro-life. They be­
lieve that life begins at conception and ends
at birth." He remains an avowed liberal, never
tiring of"... trying to alleviate the misery
that's been inflicted on a lot of innocent
people through no fault of their own."
Barney Frank is a politician who cares
deeply. His personal relationships are
molded around his political beliefs and tend
exclusively to be political exchanges. Though
he does not yet have any major committee
posts, his political savvy alone make* him one
of the most formidable Democrats in tne
house. Lesbian and gay communities across
the country should consider themselves
fortunate that his personal beliefs and con­
cerns have led to an integral role on the na­
tional level in the continuing fight for our civil
rights. Oregon should be particularly honored
he has chosen to continue his efforts by deliv­
ering the keynote address at the 1984 Lucille
Hart Dinner. September 29, at the Westin-
Benson Hotel.