It took former Rep. Barney Frank 32 years to come out as gay.
But now, as rumors swirl alleging that resigning-Rep. Aaron Schock is gay, Frank said the Illinois Republican should be “exposed” if the gossip about his sexual orientation is true because of his voting record on gay issues.
“When you are in public office and you vote opposite to the way you live your life, no I don’t think you have privacy,” Frank said. “Anyone who is gay and votes in an anti-gay fashion has, it seems to me, lost their right to privacy, because it’s been converted to a right to hypocrisy.”
Schock has not publically responded to the recent claims about his sexual orientation, but his father Richard Schock told ABC station WLS that “he’s not gay.”
When Frank sat down with “Power Players” to discuss his new autobiography, “Frank: A life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage,” the Massachusetts Democrat defended a joke he made about rumors over Schock’s sexual orientation. "If they're not true, he spent entirely too much time in the gym for a straight man," Frank told Business Insider earlier this week.
Asked about the comment, Frank responded that it was “a perfectly valid thing to joke about” and that any controversy sparked by his remark “is a reflection of the notion that it’s a terrible thing to be gay.”
“I don’t think it’s a terrible thing, and now that I’m not in public office, I feel free to make jokes,” Frank said. “It’s a joke … making fun of gay men who obsess about being in the gym, and it did seem to me that it was an unusual thing. I don’t know many straight guys who spend that much time in the gym and pose with their shirts off all the time.”
And while he admitted that his joke could perpetuate a stereotype about gay men, he said it could also serve to diminish it--making the case that there is an element of truth in his humor.
“What determines your worry about how good you look is not whether you're gay or straight but whether you're trying to appeal to men or women,” Frank said. ”Historically … women, because they were economically dependent, couldn't be as choosy about their partners, so straight men got away with not having to worry about themselves. Gay men and women are both trying to appeal to men and obsess, so yeah, it's true.”
In his book, Frank has nothing but praise for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, writing that they were early allies in the effort to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and also about his efforts to bolster her bid to fill John Kerry’s old seat in the Senate.
But when asked about the possibility of a presidential bid, Frank’s admiration of Warren pales in comparison to his allegiance to the presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“She is very bright and very well informed and they cannot discredit her,” Frank said of Warren. “I don't think she has any chance to win right now. If Hillary Clinton decided not to run that would be a different story. But at this point if anyone were to beat Hillary Clinton, I don't think they would or should, it would be out to a very vicious battle in which unfair ideological arguments would be made.”
While Frank said he believes President Obama has been a strong liberal president – and praised his work on healthcare and gay-rights issues – Frank is not without his criticism of the 44th president.
“What I said in the book was, when he said he was going to be post-partisan, he gave me post-partisan depression,” Frank said. “I am a little bit disappointed; now he's moving in the right direction on the military but not far enough and I agree with those who say we should tighten up the language about going back into Iraq.”
Frank's strongest rebuke of Obama is that he promised the American people that anyone who liked their healthcare plan prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act would be able to keep it. That promise proved to be untrue. “He shouldn't have said that, you don't mislead people,” Frank said.
For more of the interview with Frank, including his take on what the Democratic Party needs to do to do to define itself going forward, check out this episode of “Power Players.”
ABC News’ Ali Dukakis, Gary Westphalen, Brian Haefeli and Barry Haywood contributed to this episode.