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social sciences

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Frank, Barney (b. 1940)  
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Frank is known for his intelligence, integrity, and work ethic. Called a "political theorist and pit bull at the same time" and "one of the most colorful and quotable figures in Congress" because of his quick and often biting wit and his rapid-fire style of speech, the congressman is a force to be reckoned with in debate and is also an engaging public speaker.

Frank calls political engagement and participation the most effective course for glbtq people. "Marches and demonstrations may be fun, but they don't affect politicians," he stated. Those who wish to bring about change should, he said, "vote and let [their] elected officials know [they]'re there."

Sponsor Message.

On November 28, 2011, Frank announced that he would retire from the Congress at the conclusion of his term in 2013.

On July 7, 2012, Frank became the first sitting Congressman to enter into a same-sex marriage. He and James Ready married in what was described as a "low-key ceremony on the banks of the Charles River" in Newton, Massachusetts.

During the brief ceremony, which was officiated by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, the couple promised, according to the Washington Post, "to love each other and be each other's best friend, / In sickness and in health, / In Congress or in retirement, / Whether the surf is up or the surf's flat, / For richer or for poorer, / Under the Democrats or the Republicans, / Whether the slopes are powdery or icy, / Whether the book reviews are good or bad, / For better or for worse, / On MSNBC or on Fox, / For as long as you both shall live." They then exchanged wedding bands that were designed by Ready.

Frank and Ready, a carpenter and welder who owns a small shop, Jim of Most Trades, in Ogunquit, Maine, met in 2005 at a local fundraiser that he attended with his former partner, Robert Palmer, who had served as an advisor to former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

At the time, Palmer was suffering from a terminal illness. Frank was impressed by Ready's devotion to his partner. The two men kept in touch during Palmer's illness. When he died in January 2007, Frank flew to Maine to comfort his distraught friend.

Their platonic friendship gradually developed into a romantic relationship, as their dinners turned into dates. They began alternating weekends in Maine and Washington, D.C.

Among the guests at the wedding were Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, Senator John Kerry, Representatives Dennis J. Kucinich, Steny H. Hoyer, and Niki Tsongas.

At the reception following the ceremony, Pelosi said that it was appropriate that a landmark same-sex wedding take place around the Fourth of July. "It's about expanding freedom," she said. "This opportunity was a long time coming."

Linda Rapp

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social sciences >> Overview:  Elected Officials

In the United States, glbtq candidates have achieved some significant successes at the ballot box in the last three decades, running for and winning local, state, and national elections.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gay Rights Movement, U. S.

The U.S. gay rights movement has made significant progress toward achieving equality for glbtq Americans, and in the process has become more inclusive and diverse, but much remains to be done.

social sciences >> Overview:  Outing

First used by homophobes and then by glbtq activists, outing is the public revelation of a person's sexuality without the consent of that person.

social sciences >> Cicilline, David

U. S. Representative David Cicilline, who made history as the first openly gay mayor of a state capital, has a long record of public service.

social sciences >> Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) authorizes states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships or civil unions and it requires that federal bureaus and agencies recognize only opposite-sex marriages.

social sciences >> Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, in effect from 1993 until 2011, was a compromise intended to end discrimination against gay men and lesbians in the U. S. military, but it failed to halt discharges based solely on sexual orientation.

social sciences >> GetEqual

The direct action group GetEqual has gained attention by its bold action, including civil disobedience, on behalf of equal rights for glbtq people.

arts >> Kulp, Nancy

Accomplished character actress Nany Kulp, who specialized in playing prim, straight-laced spinsters, publicly acknowledged her lesbianism only towards the end of her life.

social sciences >> Maloney, Sean Patrick

Long a champion of glbtq and progressive causes, Sean Patrick Maloney was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2012 to become the first openly gay U.S. Representative from New York state.

social sciences >> Michaud, Michael H. ("Mike")

Michael H. Michaud, who has served in both houses of the Maine legislature as well as in the U.S. House of Representatives, came out publicly in 2013 during his campaign for the governorship of Maine.

social sciences >> Murray, Edward B. ("Ed") 

After a long career in the legislature of the state of Washington, Ed Murray was elected mayor of Seattle in November of 2013.

social sciences >> Noble, Elaine

A dedicated lesbian activist in the early years of the gay liberation movement, Elaine Noble made history as the first openly gay candidate elected to a state-level office when she won a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1974.

social sciences >> Polis, Jared

Businessman and philanthropist Jared Polis became one of only three openly gay members in Congress, and the first openly gay man elected to Congress as a freshman, when he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008.

social sciences >> Robinson, Svend

Svend Robinson, the first openly gay Canadian Member of Parliament, has championed human rights throughout his long political career.

social sciences >> Sinema, Kyrsten 

After serving several terms in the Arizona state legislature, Kyrsten Sinema ran successfully for the United States House of Representatives in 2012, becoming the first openly bisexual person elected to that body.

social sciences >> Takano, Mark

In 2012, Mark Takano, a Japanese American from Riverside, California, became the first openly gay person of color to be elected to the United States House of Representatives.


"Barney Fag." The New Republic 212 (February 20, 1995): 9.

Bull, Chris. "Frank and Outspoken." The Advocate (February 5, 2002): 26-31.

"Congressman Barney Frank--Representing the 4th District of Massachusetts."

Dreifus, Claudia. "Being Frank." Mother Jones 20 (May/June 1995): 70.

"Frank, Barney." Current Biography Yearbook. Judith Graham, ed. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1995. 181-86.

Frisby, Michael K. "House Votes Reprimand for Frank; GOP's Calls for Harsher Sanctions Fail after 4 Hours." The Boston Globe (July 27, 1990): 1.

Greenhouse, Linda. "Washington Talk: Public Man, Private Life; Why a Congressman Told of His Homosexuality." New York Times (June 3, 1987): A24.

Heller, Michele. "A Frank Tenure, Previewed." American Banker 167 (June 28, 2002): 1.

Vilela, Marcelo. "Out in Congress."


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Frank, Barney  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated September 5, 2012  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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