Rep. Barney Frank Breaks Down the Same-Sex Marriage Barrier in Congress


In 1981, as the booming gay culture was being hit with the AIDS epidemic and a rising conservative culture in Washington, Barney Frank, a young Democrat from Massachusetts, entered Congress. Six years later, he became the first elected official on the Hill to voluntarily tell the public about his homosexuality. His statement shook the Moral Majority at the time and laid the path for more Representatives to announce that they would work on behalf of the American people and out of the closet.

But yesterday, Frank commandeered another major victory for Congressional gay politics: in Newton, Massachusetts – the first state in the nation to allow homosexual couples to grow old with each other – the now 72-year-old elected official became the first member of the legislative chambers to enter into a same-sex marriage with his long-term partner and Massachusetts shop-owner, Jim Ready.
In a close-knit ceremony, officiated by Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick, the bridegrooms tied the knot on their 7-year-long relationship, which started back in 2005, when Frank met Ready at a political fundraiser. Although it was small, the attendees were federally star-studded: House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Represenatative Dennis Kucinich and Senators John Kerry and Steny H. Hoyer were all in attendance.
Although Barney is out of Congress in November due to his decision to not seek re-election after being in there for over 25 years, the gay rights achievement signifies a same-sex marriage domino effect across Washington that will not end at Congress’s doorstep.

The wedding of Frank and Ready rides off the back of the news that Obama’s Department of Justice is demanding that the Supreme Court, when it returns to session in a few months, overturns the laughable Defense of Marriage Act passed years ago under the Clinton Administration and whole-heartedly endorsed by the Bush crew (that seems like light years ago now). And that news rides off the back of the President’s newly-grounded support for same-sex marriage. And, for New Yorkers, we reported yesterday that the courts are not even thinking of overturning the state’s same-sex marriage law. Follow the dominoes.

With a person involved in a same-sex marriage inside Congress, it will be interesting to see how this affects the discussion outside of Congress. (For now, we’re good: as Louis Peltzman of Gawker writes, “No word yet on how Frank’s same-sex marriage will undermine or destroy the marriages of his fellow members in Congress.”)

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 8, 2012

But, regardless of politics, the vows between Ready and Frank sum it up beautifully: the couple agreed to remain in love “on MSNBC or on Fox” and “in Congress or retirement.” And, with that, we give our congrats.

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