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Popular Topics in The Arts
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Topics In the News
 
Barney Frank Will Not Seek Re-Election
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 11/28/11
Last updated on: 12/04/11
 
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Barney Frank.
On November 28, 2011, Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank announced that he will not stand for re-election in 2012. The first Congressman to voluntarily confirm his homosexuality, Frank has served in the House of Representatives for 30 years. He is known for his intelligence, his quick and acerbic wit, and his spirited defense of his social and political beliefs. He has been a leader not only in the cause of equal rights, but also on such issues as fair housing, consumer rights, banking, and immigration.

In announcing his decision not to stand for re-election, Frank said that after his district was recently redrawn, it became clear that he would have to campaign harder than he wanted for re-election. Although he had intended to serve one more term, he changed his mind after seeing his redrawn district, which would give him more than 300,000 new constituents and would not include some areas that have supported him most strongly.

Frank said a potentially tough re-election battle would have distracted him from his policy priorities, such as pushing for federal deficit reduction to include cuts in military spending and continuing to advocate for changes in the financial industry.

Observing that he has "the longest uncompleted Ph.D. thesis in Harvard history haunting" him, he said that he hoped to teach and write in the coming years.

Upon learning of Frank's decision not to seek re-election, President Obama issued this statement: "This country has never had a Congressman like Barney Frank, and the House of Representatives will not be the same without him. For over 30 years, Barney has been a fierce advocate for the people of Massachusetts and Americans everywhere who needed a voice. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of families and businesses and helped make housing more affordable. He has stood up for the rights of LGBT Americans and fought to end discrimination against them. And it is only thanks to his leadership that we were able to pass the most sweeping financial reform in history designed to protect consumers and prevent the kind of excessive risk-taking that led to the financial crisis from ever happening again. Barney's passion and his quick wit will be missed in the halls of Congress, and Michelle and I join the people of the Bay State in thanking him for his years of service."

In 1987, Frank became the first U.S. Congressman to voluntarily come out as gay when, in response to a question posed by a Boston Globe reporter, he acknowledged his homosexuality. The acknowledgment was met with overwhelming support from his constituents, who re-elected him with 70% of the vote.

He survived a scandal in 1989 when Stephen Gobie, a hustler and convicted felon, who had worked as Frank's housekeeper and driver for two years beginning in 1985, claimed that Frank knew that he had been running a prostitution ring out of his townhouse, a charge that Frank vehemently denied.

As a result of an investigation into the Gobie affair, in 1990 Frank was reprimanded by the House of Representatives, but survived votes calling for his expulsion and his censure.

In another incident that made the news, Frank was slandered by House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who referred to him as "Barney Fag."

But Frank was known for giving as good as he got. When asked if he wanted an apology from Armey, he quipped, "I'm trying to think of what I would be less interested in than an apology from Dick Armey--maybe the lyrics to the national anthem of Bhutan."

He recently described Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who has denied being a lobbyist, as "both a lobbyist and a liar."

After the passage of the bill that led to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Frank responded to social conservatives who accused him of pushing a "radical homosexual agenda." Here is his explanation of the "radical homosexual agenda":

During his retirement announcement Frank could not resist taking a swipe at Newt Gingrich and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA):

 
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