It was by choice that Rep. Barney Frank came out of the closet 25 years ago — not the first gay congressman, but the first to announce voluntarily that he was gay.
On Saturday, he took another deliberate first step: By exchanging vows in Massachusetts with his longtime boyfriend Jim Ready of Ogunquit, Maine, six months before his planned retirement, Frank will spend the rest of his time in office as the nation’s first congressman in a same-sex marriage.
“I think it’s important,” he told New York magazine in April, “that my colleagues interact with a married gay man.”
About 300 friends and relatives gathered at the Boston Marriott hotel in Newton, Mass. (in Frank’s district), to see the veteran Democratic lawmaker, 72 — who has represented that district since 1981 — wed Ready, 42, the owner of a carpentry/welding/custom awnings shop and an avid outdoorsman. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, an early champion of the state’s first-in-the-nation legalization of gay marriage, was the officiant for the private (no media), short (less than five minutes) and rather personalized ceremony, according to the congressman’s office:
Do you promise 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.
The couple (wearing matching Joseph Abboud tuxedos and colorful bow ties) exchanged rings selected by Ready — black diamonds set in tungsten, a welding metal. The dozen groomsmen wore Abboud suits (a gift from Frank and Ready because the company is based in Massachusetts).
Then Patrick offered a prayer — “Heavenly Father, thank you for this day and this joy. Grant Barney and Jim long life, good health, wisdom, patience, kindness, understanding, laughter, and loving family and friends” — and pronounced them married.
Otherwise, sounds like it was just your average Beltway power-broker wedding: After the outdoor ceremony, guests had cocktails on the banks of the Charles River, then went inside for a seated dinner and dancing. No first dance for the grooms, but they were hoisted in chairs during the hora, we’ve heard, and Nancy Pelosi cut a rug on the dance floor to some swing tunes. Other guests included Sen. John Kerry; Reps. Dennis Kucinich, Steny Hoyer, Bill Keating, Rosa DeLauro, Anna Eshoo, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Jim McGovern; and D.C. strategist types Hilary Rosen, Robert Raben, Steve Elmendorf and Frank’s sister Ann Lewis.
Frank did not invite President Barack Obama because he did not want the presidential security team to disrupt the small town, he told C-Span in May: “I don’t want to be accused of having shut down the entire region for a five-mile radius on a holiday weekend. I don’t want my guests going through a magnetometer … not to my party.”
The newlyweds met at a fundraiser in Ready’s home state of Maine in 2005 and struck up a friendship; after Ready’s long-term partner died in 2007, he and Frank began dating.
Frank announced last fall that he would not seek reelection this year, citing the rigors of the job and his desire to devote more time to his personal life. “I have a partner now,” he told Charlie Rose earlier this year. “I’m in love for the first time in my life.”
Befitting a politician’s wedding, guests received a campaign button, of sorts, in their gift bags: “Barney and Jim for Congress” — with “Forever” stamped across the word “Congress.”