The first US Congressman to come out voluntarily as gay has confirmed he plans to marry his partner of five years.
Barney Frank, considered the most prominent gay politician in the US, has sat in the House of Representatives in Washington DC for over thirty years, political blog The Hill reported yesterday.
His office confirmed the wedding between Frank and parter Jim Ready, 42, will take place in Massachusetts, Frank’s home state.
Frank, 71, first stood for national office in 1980 after the incumbent priest resigned following Pope John Paul II’s instruction that priests should not hold political office. His campaign slogan was “Neatness Isn’t Everything”.
He previously worked as an aide to Boston’s mayor and, at the state level, as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Ready has a small crafts business in Maine making custom awnings, among other products.
Frank came out in 1987. He told the Washington Post the decision to make his sexuality public had been prompted by the death of Stewart McKinney, a bisexual Republican representative.
He said there had been “an unfortunate debate about ‘Was he or wasn’t he? Didn’t he or did he?’ I said to myself, I don’t want that to happen to me.”
Gerry Studds was the first Congressman to be publicly known to be gay; he had been forced to come out as part of a 1983 investigation into a relationship with a 17 year old congressional page. Frank was the first US Congressman to come out voluntarily.
He admitted using private income to pay a male prostitute, Steve Gobie, who went on to live in his Capitol Hill home in the 1980s.
When the relationship was made public by Gobie in 1989, Frank asked to be investigated by the House Ethic Committee and was reprimanded for fixing Gobie’s parking tickets.
Frank and Ready met in 2005 but reportedly began seeing each other romantically in 2007. A date for the wedding has not been set, but if it were to occur before Frank’s term ends in 2013, he would be the first sitting member of Congress to enter into a gay marriage.