After 30 years of service, House Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2012. Frank, who is among the nation’s most influential gay elected officials, entered the House in 1981 and has continued to support equality throughout his career. In 1990, Frank reformed immigration laws to be more inclusive of the LGBT community and, most recently, he promoted fairness in the military and saw the overturn of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ At age 71, the quick-witted representative told the New York Times, “It’s been a privilege to fight for the quality of people’s lives, but I’m ready to put a little more quality into my own life.” His work as an LGBT equality advocate and pioneer has certainly improved the lives of countless Americans.
“Mr. Frank…said that he wanted to spend more time with his partner, Jim Ready, and that he would no longer keep a residence in Washington after retiring. Mr. Ready neatened Mr. Frank’s hair just before his news conference, took pictures throughout and sat nearby during the interview,” writes Abby Goodnough from the New York Times.
The Washington Post highlighted Frank’s long legacy promoting gay visibility and inclusion, “First elected in 1980, Frank became, in 1987, the first sitting member of Congress to publicly reveal he was gay. Since then he has become the leading lawmaker for the gay rights movement, with the most recent achievement coming a year ago with the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gay service members serving openly.”
“Over the decades, Frank was a prominent supporter of several gay-rights issues, including a bill to allow same-sex partners of federal employees the same benefits as spouses,” the Associated Press recounted. “When Republicans sought passage of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in 2006, he said, ‘I think this is motivated, frankly, by a dislike of those of us who are gay and lesbian,’ and he objected to ‘people taking batting practice with my life.’”
In a public statement, President Obama praised Frank on his dedicated service, “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 stood up for the rights of LGBT Americans and fought to end discrimination against them…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.”
Over his long career, Frank has made a positive impact on politics and the lives of everyday Americans. His political career may be coming to an end, but Frank promises he won’t ignore party conversations altogether. He assured the Washington Post today that “he would not drop out of the political debate. ‘I‘m not retiring from advocacy of public policy.’” GLAAD thanks Frank for his efforts to promote equality and we look forward to Frank’s continued involvement with the LGBT community.