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Barney Frank is the first U.S. Congressman to voluntarily announce his homosexuality. He is also known for his work on the 2008 American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act.
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Barney Frank was born on March 31, 1940 in Bayonne, New Jersey. The Massachusetts Democrat became a U.S. Congressman in 1980, and publicly revealed his homosexuality in 1987. Frank worked at length on the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act, which was passed in 2008. He married his longtime boyfriend Jim Ready in July 2012.
"I'm used to being in the minority. I'm a left-handed gay Jew. I've never felt, automatically, a member of any majority."
Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, a Democrat, is considered the most prominent gay politician in the United States, but he came from humble Jewish roots. He was born Barnett Frank in Bayonne, New Jersey on March 31, 1940, to Elsie and Samuel Frank. His father ran a Jersey City truck stop and was later jailed for one year for refusing to testify against his brother, who was involved in a kickback scheme. Despite the incident, Frank's parents instilled in him and his three siblings "a belief in the power of the government to do good," according to a January 2009 article in The New Yorker.
Frank graduated from Harvard College in 1962, and later pursued graduate studies there, working toward a Doctor of Philosophy degree in government and teaching undergraduate classes. He went on to become the chief assistant to Boston Mayor Kevin White, and later worked for Massachusetts Congressman Michael Harrington. In 1972, Frank was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He served in that capacity for the following eight years, all the while attending Harvard Law School. Frank was admitted to the bar in Massachusetts in 1979.
During his time in state government, Frank taught part time at his alma mater and several other universities, including Boston University. He also published articles on public affairs and politics.
By the late 1970s, Frank had decided to pursue higher office. In 1980, he ran for and won the U.S. House of Representatives 4th Congressional District seat, which he continued to win every election thereafter. He announced in November 2011 that he would not seek re-election in 2012.
Frank began revealing his homosexuality to friends in his personal life before he ran for Congress, but concealed his sexual preference from the public until May 30, 1987. Frank, the first congressman to ever publicly announce his homosexuality, said that one of his reasons for doing so was that he did not want to end up like closeted bisexual Republican Connecticut Congressman Stewart McKinney: After McKinney's death, on May 7, 1987, media speculation arose regarding whether or not he was gay. "I don't want that to happen to me," Frank told the Washington Post. According to Edge Boston magazine, another catalyst for Frank's revelation was increased media interest in his private life after former Republican Maryland Congressman Bob Bauman was ousted from his seat following an arrest for soliciting an underage male prostitute.
In his 32-year career as a member of the U.S. Congress, Frank proved himself to be an industrious and accomplished lawmaker.
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