Openly gay congressman announced his retirement Nov. 28.
Openly gay congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) announced Monday, Nov. 28 he has no plans to run for re-election next year.
"I began to think about retirement last year, as we were completing passage of the financial reform bill," Frank said in a written statement. "I have enjoyed -- indeed been enormously honored -- by the chance to represent others in Congress and the State Legislature, but there are other things I hope to do before my career ends. Specifically, I have for several years been thinking about writing, and while there are people who are able to combine serious writing with full-time jobs, my susceptibility to distraction when faced with a blank screen makes that impossible."
Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank held a press conference in Newton announcing his departure.
"Our politics has evolved in a way that makes it harder to get anything done at the federal level," Frank said. "I believe that I have been effective as a Member of Congress working inside the process to influence public policy in the ways that I think are important. But I now believe that there is more to be done trying to change things from outside than by working within. I am announcing today my retirement from elected office after 40 years but not my retirement from public policy advocacy and given the nature of our current situation, in some ways I believe I may have more impact speaking, writing and in other ways advocating for the changes that I think are necessary than trying to bring them about inside our constricting political process."
Saying he had to make a choice "between fulfilling my obligation as a ranking member of the Financial Services Committee on behalf of financial reform and my responsibility to continue to be a full representative of the people who voted for me in 2010, and on the other hand to engage in a full-fledged Congressional campaign in a district which is very different than the current one," Frank announced his retirement.
Several politicians and LGBT advocacy groups responded by lauding Frank’s commitment and work, and wishing the congressman well.
"A generation of Bay State residents have known Barney Frank for his wisdom, wit and passion for service," said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. "Barney’s leadership, on issues ranging from civil liberties to financial system restraint, will be sorely missed. He has earned the good wishes of the people of the Commonwealth."
"This country has never had a Congressman like Barney Frank, and the House of Representatives will not be the same without him," President Barack Obama said in a press statement. "For over 30 years, Barney has been a fierce advocate for the people of Massachusetts and Americans everywhere who needed a voice. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of families and businesses and helped make housing more affordable. He has stood up for the rights of LGBT Americans and fought to end discrimination against them. And it is only thanks to his leadership that we were able to pass the most sweeping financial reform in history designed to protect consumers and prevent the kind of excessive risk-taking that led to the financial crisis from ever happening again. 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."
"Barney Frank is one of kind. He has brought his own brand of brashness, boldness, unmatched wit, discipline and skill to Capitol Hill, at times ingratiating and infuriating friend and foe alike," Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBT Task Force, said. "We thank him for his years of service. As an openly gay member of Congress for nearly a quarter century, Barney Frank has made his mark on history. Yet his legacy is much more than that -- for 30 years, he has dedicated himself to bettering the lives of the people he serves, and the country he serves. His voice -- often loud and uncompromising -- will be missed by many, including me."
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) echoed Carey’s fondness for Frank’s singular political style. "No one’s ever doubted for a minute what Barney Frank thinks or where he stands, and if you weren’t sure, trust me, he’d tell you," Kerry said in a statement to Bay Windows. "That’s the special quality that has made Barney not just beloved and quotable, but unbelievably effective as an advocate and a legislator. He’s brave, he’s bold, and he’s ridiculously smart. People have marveled for years about what a quick and witty debater Barney can be, but many overlooked his secret: he has a core. ...Barney is who he is, no matter the issue. His voice will be deeply missed in the Congress and in our delegation, but true to his word he’ll be taking his perspective to a new arena where his impact will continue to be felt just as deeply."
Frank’s political career began in 1967 with the position of Executive Assistant to former Boston Mayor Kevin White. After serving as Administrative Assistant to Congressman Michael Harrington, Frank was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1972, and held the seat for eight years. In 1980 he succeeded Father Robert Drinan as Representative of the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts, a position held for more than three decades, which found its conclusion with today’s announcement.
"Congressman Barney Frank is a national leader and his decision to retire, while understandable, will be a tremendous loss not just for residents of the Commonwealth, but for the country," Kara Suffredini, Executive Director of MassEquality, said in a statement to Bay Windows. "Congressman Frank’s contributions span the important issues of the day, and his leadership on LGBT causes has been particularly critical. During the fight to repeal ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ Frank was instrumental in working to ensure that the House voted to lift the ban on openly gay servicemembers. During the fight for marriage equality in Massachusetts, Frank lobbied local lawmakers to vote to protect the Goodridge decision. And he showed the same leadership on the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick just last week. His leadership and commitment to justice will be sorely missed."
"The LGBT community in Massachusetts knows Barney well and fondly as a passionate and effective advocate for equality," said Lee Swislow, Executive Director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). "He was an early and important supporter of GLAD’s strategy in challenging the odious Defense of Marriage Act. We will miss him in Congress, but know that his unique voice will continue to be heard on the issues that he cares so much about. We wish him only the best."
Hannah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.