Wake up and smell the coffee, Frank

11 Oct

In an AP interview with Republican Barney Frank, the openly gay member of Congress believes that gay rights advocates should lobby elected officials rather than protest. In fact, he calls the National Equality March (a National Day of Action/ demonstrations) “a waste of time at best.”

Such remarks makes one wonder if elected politicians think themselves too highly; and whether they understood the premise of democratic politics. Certainly, the effectiveness of marches, if only understood as immediate change of policy, is an extremely limited view of its purpose.

National Day of Actions or mass protests show governments that they should respect (if not, at least, be sensitive) to the aspirations of its people. It tells them that they should be wary of making any future policies that would be a setback for the rights of minority groups. In a public display of numbers, strength, conviction, anger and passion manifests itself. That is what keeps politics alive and meaningful.

In a world (including western democracies) where elected representatives overstate their importance in the democratic process (and think too highly of themselves), public protests gives them a good grounding not to get too up themselves.

As Mark Reed points out in Equality Across Marriage blog, ‘

… The elders of the gay movement, like Barney Frank, are calling this weekend march a waste of money or worse; “useless” is the term Frank uses to describe it.

But a new generation of energetic younger gay-marriage leaders don’t care. They are pushing lawsuits in Texas, Louisiana, California and elsewhere against the advice of their elders. They organized this March and are pushing Obama to make overturning DOMA huge priority. They have no clue what the rest of America thinks and frankly they do not really care…

… The younger generation of leaders is just practicing what the older generation preaches: Equality demands gay marriage; opposition to gay marriage is bigotry. You don’t compromise with bigots. These relentlessly principled young people are the people who are going to be in charge of what gay marriage will mean, too.’

Wake up Frank and smell the coffee.

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