FORMER MASSACHUSETTS Congressman Barney Frank gave a scathing speech at the Democratic National Convention's LGBT Caucus on Tuesday afternoon, aimed at "Bernie or Bust"-ers who vowed to not vote for Hillary Clinton.
Frank, who was one of the first openly gay people in Congress, said he believed it was his and other Democrats' "special mission" to persuade Sanders supporters to vote for Clinton, adding that Sanders loyalists were willing to do harm to the LGBT community for their own "superior moral political position."
Frank urged Sanders supporters to think about the empty Supreme Court seat after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. Scalia's replacement will likely be appointed by the next sitting president.
"[Donald Trump] will appoint a justice like Antonin Scalia. And let's be clear about Antonin Scalia. There has never been a more highly placed militant homophobe in the history of the United States," said Frank. "And citing him as a model is as direct a threat to us as can be."
Frank then blasted Sanders supporters, who then proceeded to walk out during the final moments of his speech.
"I tell you I have a personal issue with some of the people who are Sanders supporters - not for having been Sanders supporters - but for telling us today they will not vote for Hillary Clinton because of these other issues," he said. "Please do not tell me that you are dedicated to relieving America from prejudice and unfairness and people getting treated unequally, but ignore the important issues of fairness for African Americans and protecting the legal rights of LGBT people."
The retired congressman was flanked by Sanders delegates afterward, including Cristobal Villegas from Utah, whom told Frank that his speech was divisive and insulting.
"What you made other Bernie delegates feel is that you're putting us against Hillary delegates," Villegas said to Frank.
"I'm not in charge of what you feel," Frank said back. He reiterated, "People who do not vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in November are betraying our cause."
Other LGBT Bernie delegates, such as David Weeda from Maine, said Frank's speech was representative of the Democratic National Committee's treatment toward Sanders delegates as a whole.
"I can't separate this particular isolated moment at this convention from everything that's going on in the whole sphere," he said. "As a Bernie delegate, the convention has not been pulled off very effectively to bring unity."
Nearly 1 in 8 delegates at this year's convention is a member of the LGBT community - the largest total number of LGBT delegates ever represented. During the caucus Tuesday, at the Convention Center, 28 transgender delegates were honored.
Other speakers at the caucus included New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, California Congressman Mike Honda, who spoke about his transgender granddaughter, and Jason Collins, who was the first openly gay basketball player in the NBA.