Compromise-seeker blasted

June 11, 1993|By Boston Globe

WASHINGTON -- After suggesting a compromise a couple of weeks ago over the role of gays in the military, Rep. Barney Frank was ridiculed by Queer Nation and rebuked by Sen. Sam Nunn.

By taking the middle ground in the controversy, the Massachusetts congressman found himself under fire from two opposing positions.

Mr. Frank suggested a variation of Mr. Nunn's proposal for a "don't ask, don't tell" policy in which military officials would not try to determine sexual orientation while gay men and women in the service would keep their preferences a secret.

Mr. Frank proposed that gays could suppress their homosexuality while on duty but "be allowed without fear of any penalty or punishment to express their individuality" when away from their base.

The compromise was quickly rejected by Mr. Nunn, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as leaders of the gay community.

Queer Nation, a radical gay group, staged a protest outside Mr. Frank's office.

A spokesman for the organization, Michael Petrelis, called him "Uncle Barney -- because he is like Uncle Tom."

Mr. Frank has accused Mr. Nunn of conducting "an antigay witch hunt" and said in an earlier interview with the Boston Globe that Mr. Nunn was "obsessing about what goes on in other people's bedrooms."

Mr. Nunn retaliated by saying that he was "not in Barney's league" when it came to obsession with sex.

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