In a low-key yet historic ceremony, veteran Democratic representative Barney Frank married his partner Jim Ready in the first same-sex wedding involving a sitting member of Congress.
The ceremony took place at a Marriot hotel on the banks of the Charles River in Newton, Massachusetts on Saturday. In attendance were House Minority Nancy Pelosi as well as Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Steny Hoyer, both Democrats. President Barack Obama, who Rep. Frank famously said he would not invite, was not present.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, also a Democrat, officiated the five-minute ceremony.
Frank, 72, and Ready, 42, penned their own vows, pledging to love each other “on MSNBC or on Fox,” and “in Congress or in retirement,” something they’ll have plenty of time to get used to as Frank has announced he will not seek another term in Congress. The two men met at a political fundraiser in 2005.
“I told him that I had a crush on him for 20 years,” Ready said, adding that he was inspired by the congressman’s courageous 1987 announcement that he was gay. Frank was the first sitting member of Congress to come out, no easy feat a quarter century ago.
At the time, Ready, a welder and a carpenter, was in a relationship with another man. But that man, Robert Palmer, knew Frank from his days as an adviser to former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis and figured that the congressman would be a good match for Ready after he died.
After Palmer passed away in January 2007, Frank phoned a “distraught” Ready and the two men began seeing each other– first as friends.
“I was really just drawn to him,” Ready told the New York Times. “It was platonic, but I didn’t want it to be.”
It wasn’t platonic for long. Frank’s hectic congressional career strained relations at times, but the pair persevered and love blossomed. Ready had a softening influence on the famously cantankerous Frank; even his Republican counterparts in Congress noticed the change.
It wasn’t long before the couple was discussing marriage, which has been legal between two men or women in Massachusetts since 2004. Ready was concerned about public scrutiny, but he remembered how Frank’s coming-out inspired him and a whole generation of gay youth.
“The kids that are going to see us, and feel strong enough to be able to come out and be who they are,” he told the New York Times. “That gives me more encouragement that I’m doing the right thing.”