Masscahusetts Rep. Barney Frank called Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a "homophobe" in an interview released Monday on a gay online news site, and said he hoped a challenge to a federal law widely disliked in the gay community will not be heard before the high court until new justices are seated on the bench.
Frank, who is gay, made the remark in responding to a question about legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act. The 1996 law says the federal government and states have no obligation to recognize same-sex marriages even if other states allow them.
"At some point, [the Defense of Marriage Act] is going to have to go to the United States Supreme Court," the congressman, a Democrat, said. "I wouldn't want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has got too many votes on this current court."
Last month a controversial judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared the 12-year-old law unconstitutional. That's the second time a judge from the notably liberal court has made such a ruling.
But both rulings were administrative in nature and offered no precedent, thus making it unlikely they would be appealed to the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, a judicial marker has been set that has clearly drawn the interest of the gay community.
Scalia is no stranger to personal attacks and is a favorite target for gays because of his dissent in a 2003 case that overturned the nation's consensual sodomy laws.
In that case Scalia held the majority's ruling represented "a massive disruption of the current social order."
He went on to conclude that "the Texas statute undeniably seeks to further the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are immoral and unacceptable, the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality and obscenity."
Justice Scalia was not immediately available for comment.