Sanders demands Democrats sack gay rights pioneer Barney Frank

Bernie Sanders has launched an attack on out congressman Barney Frank – calling for him to be dropped from the Democratic Convention’s rules committee.

Mr Frank came out as gay in 1987, and served as a Democratic lawmaker in Congress for 32 years.

The lawmaker was the first ever congressman to open up about his sexuality and keep serving, sitting in the House of Representatives for decades before his retirement in 2013.

The lawmaker is considered an early gay rights pioneer for his work in Congress – but he is under attack from Democratic Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, with whom he has a long-standing feud.

Sanders, who is massively trailing frontrunner Hillary Clinton in delegate count, sent a legal threat to the Democrats last week demanding they drop Frank from his party role ahead of next month’s Convention.

The pair were frequent adversaries in Congress – but in the letter to the DNC, Sanders claims that Frank is incapable of remaining neutral due to a “deep professional, political and personal hostility toward the senator and his campaign”.

The legal threat claims: “Mr Frank’s animosity toward Senator Sanders dates back decades… and Mr. Frank’s invective against Senator Sanders has only intensified.”

It continues: “The Campaign has justifiable significant doubts, in light of his past and present comments, about whether Mr. Frank is capable of respecting Sanders supporters, and what he has called their ‘dumb’ and ‘unrealistic’ viewpoints.

“An individual so harshly dismissive of views held by 45 percent of the Party’s constituency is not qualified to serve as an even-handed or effective leader at the Convention.

“[Frank] cannot be relied upon to perform their Convention duties fairly and capably while laboring under such deeply held bias.”

However, the DNC rejected the demand – which also targeted Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy.

The response said: “Both Governor Malloy and Representative Frank were elected by the Executive Committee of the DNC on January 22, 2016, pursuant to the Call for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

“Your challenge does not allege that there was any violation of the provisions of the Call in the conduct of their elections, or otherwise assert that there was any other cognizable violation of the Call, the Delegate Deletion Rules, or any other rules or regulation.

“Having carefully reviewed your challenge, we find that it fails to meet the criteria for the foregoing reasons and pursuant to the Regulations and Bylaws Committee for the 2016 Democratic National Convention… we are compelled to dismiss it.”

The demands add to speculation that Sanders will attempt some sort of protest at the Convention, even though Hillary Clinton is set to win outright on delegates.