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Text of Barney Frank's speech

Hello. (APPLAUSE) Thank you. Thank you. But if you clap later, it doesn't come out of my time.

I want to begin, on behalf of the National Stonewall Democrats, the gay, lesbian, transgender bisexual wing of the Democratic Party, with an apology. I am sorry that the thought of two women who are in love seeking in Florida to solemnize that love in a marriage so disorganized my Republican colleagues that they decided to put aside the business of America, that they decided, a couple of weeks ago, that we couldn't deal with homeland security or a highway bill or education or health care. And they had to try to knock a big hole in the U.S. Constitution.

I guess I want to try to calm them down, so I'm going to come clean. You hear them talk about the gay agenda, and I'm going to be honest with you now, the fact is, we who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, we do have an agenda, and here it is: We think we should be able to fight for our country, like John Kerry, and serve in the military. We believe, revolutionary as it may sound to Rick Santorum and Jerry Falwell, we believe people ought to be hired for a job and be judged solely on how well they do the work and not at what somebody else thinks about who they are. We go so far as to believe that a 15 year old who is different in a lot of ways sexually from others ought to be able to go to high school without getting beaten up. I admit it. We believe that. And we even believe, and it's true, that when two people are in love and they are willing to be morally and legally committed to each other and financially responsible to each other that if they are prepared to get married, it's a good thing for the stability of society. We believe that.

Now, that's not all we believe. We also think that the marvelous health care that's been developed in America ought to be accessible to everybody, regardless of income. We're proud that America is the strongest nation in the world militarily and economically, but we think that strength is enhanced, not diminished, when we cooperate with others. We think a strong environmental policy is good for our society and doesn't detract. And we believe that as we prosper and generate more wealth, if we share it in a fairer manner, if we do not simply let the rich get richer, but worry about working people's ability to support themselves, America will benefit. Now, some of those things we believe because particularly we are gay and lesbian. To be honest with you, we don't know why we are; we just are. But we do know why we are Democrats. We know we are Democrats because it is the Democratic Party, as opposed to our very right-wing Republican opponents, who support that agenda of allowing us to fight, of allowing us to marry, of allowing us to go forward as human beings with the rights of everyone else.

And it is the Republican party that opposes them. And I add one last thing: With the differences between the two political parties on issues important to us as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people so important, when Ralph Nader tells us that there is no significant difference between the parties, he trivializes our lives. Among the differences between the parties, of overpowering significance are the differences that exist on the right of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered to be treated fairly with the same rights as every other American. And so, for these reasons, I am proud, on behalf of the National Federation of Stonewall Democrats, to tell people how proudly we will vote in November or John Kerry and John Edwards. Thank you. 

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