Retiring congressman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) has announced that he plans to marry his long-term partner Jim Ready.
A spokesperson for Frank confirmed on Thursday that he would marry Ready, a small business owner and photographer from Maine who is just under 30 years Frank’s junior. The wedding will be in Frank’s own Massachusetts, it is reported, though no set date has been issued.
Frank, who currently represents Massachusetts’ 4th congressional district, announced last fall that he would not run for re-election after his 16th term in Congress ends this year.
Frank has said that following his retirement he is looking forward to spending time with Ready, declaring in his usual straightforward manner during an appearance on PBS’ The Charlie Rose Show “I’m in love for the first time in my life.”
But Frank’s marriage will still be a political affair because, of course, he and his partner will be subject to the Defense of Marriage Act’s restrictions.
This is something that LGBT rights groups have noted in celebrating Frank’s news.
“It is, of course, somewhat ironic that because of DOMA and because Barney is a federal employee, Jim won’t be eligible for any of the benefits that any other spouse would be able to get,” said Lee Swislow, executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Boston legal rights organization that brought the case that led to Massachusetts becoming the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage.
“I think it’s always positive when public figures are role models in these critical societal institutions,” Swislow added.
DOMA bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions and denies recipricocity of marriage rights across the states, so, for instance, a same-sex marriage carried out in Massachussettes need not be recognized by the state of Arizona. Crucially however, and a point of contention in several lawsuits, DOMA actually overeaches and bars the states that do recognize same-sex marriage from granting full equality in how they treat same-sex spouses.
Frank, who is 71 and won his seat in the U.S. House in 1980, has in the past testified repeatedly on issues regarding LGBT rights, including the federal Employment Non Discrimination Act, and has repeatedly advocated for same-sex marriage rights both in his home state and at the federal level.
Care2 wishes Frank and his partner the very best of happiness for their coming married life together.